We Moms sat around the picnic table with coats wrapped tight and chatted between taking photos of our teens/tweens at the WVU Adventure Challenge Course. Our offspring scaled a tower and rappelled down while peers belayed them. Down in the lowlands it was a comfortable sixty-something while up in the highlands it was bone-achy cold and yet such an enjoyable day just being outdoors. (Okay, I moaned a few times about needing a hot espresso, but other than that….)
We Moms compared notes about our early outdoor experiences. We all had the common denominator of spending multiple hours outdoors (at our parents’ insistence). It was a building block of our childhood. We spoke of building pine needle forts, climbing trees while watching younger siblings, playing in the creek, eating lunch in an ancient graveyard. And the lists continued for hours. I picked their brains for this month’s focus on Positive Adoption- PLAY.
“Many members of my generation grew into adulthood taking nature’s gift for granted; we assumed (when we thought of it at all) that generations to come would also receive these gifts. But something has changed. Now we see the emergence of what I have come to call nature deficit disorder.”- Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods
Today, I want us Moms to chew on these questions: Why go outside when all the electrical outlets are inside? Why should moms play outside? Nature deficit disorder is not just for children, it affects us moms too!
“In the space of a century, the American experience of nature has gone from direct utilitarianism to romantic attachment to electronic detachment.”- Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods
We live in a new era where yards are smaller, green space more limited in suburban and metropolitan areas. We have everything at our finger tips. YouTube and Animal Planet provide plenty of the footage of the wild world. Servants like dishwashers and clothes dryers do our dirty work. No need to pound the rugs outside with a rug beater when Mr. Dyson will do the work, we just have to plug him in and give him a little push. We can chat for hours with friends on our Ipads without ever stepping out the door.
During my childhood years, my parents took us kids on five- and six-week vacations across the nation, from the east coast to the west in a VW van, camping in a tent most nights with an occasional hotel night. There were no electronics available. The places we went you couldn’t view online (there was no online, only real life). You had to go there. We threw snowballs in July in the Grand Tetons, stretched our bodies over New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado in the Four Corners, swam in frigid waters with pebbly beaches, watched Old Faithful erupt and stood face to rock face with George Washington,Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, at Mount Rushmore. From the Redwood Forest to the beaches of Virginia, Maryland and the Carolinas, my family experienced it all.
When we arrived home with Grandma in tow (we picked her up in Arizona), we aired out the tent and the sleeping bags,unpacked and got back to the outdoors, weeding the garden, moving, and my younger siblings’ favorite, catching crawdads in the creek. Then there was apple picking! My older brother climbed the tree while we girls held a sheet below. He shook the branches and apples rained down on us.
Fast Forward to my early Mommy years. I was home alone, with a baby in a townhouse, suffering from postpartum depression (though I didn’t know it at the time). I didn’t see the necessity of going outdoors. I had my childhood memories tucked safely away to pull out at will, but I didn’t really think about the message my parents taught me: Go outdoors, often. Unplug. I worked indoors with my servants and caught up on Brady Bunch reruns. Then one day, a wise, more mature Mama told me I needed to get outdoors to lift my mood and restore my sanity.
Outdoors I went, with kits, cats, sacks, baby and blankets to sit and enjoy nature. Jerry or I strapped Audrey on our backs while we hiked up back country roads. My mood improved. My house left behind, I enjoyed fresh air and gained a new outlook. Sticky floors didn’t bother me while I played outdoors. They were in another time and place indoors. And I started back down the road of my childhood, trading four walls for an expanse of sky, trees, birds and the gift of NATURE.
As I write this, I am sitting on my back deck, birds are chirping, my laundry drying in the sun and I don’t want to go back inside. Nature is my medicine. It calms me. It is my playground. Why do I go outside? To restore. Renew.
I logged fifteen miles of walking outside last week. It is my necessity, not my luxury. Nature sedates parts of me that need sedating and invigorates the parts of me that need invigorating. And the play in my flower garden, clipping a bouquet, pulling out weeds, eases the tension and brings my world back into perspective.
I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.-e.e.cumings
Why do you go outside? What do you consider play outside?
Tomorrow, we will be giving away a free copy of:
So join us for Totally Broke Tuesday and leave a comment to enter in the drawing! We will draw a name Tuesday at 3:00pm!