Today I went for a walk through a quaint little town, exploring it and the surroundings. As I walked, I noticed a beautiful feather on the ground and picked it up. Immediately it reminded me of walking with my young children some years ago.
We regularly went walking whether it was around our property (we lived in a rural area), around town, at the beach or in the bush. As we walked, I always seemed to have a ‘Collector’ with me….. at least one of my children would be in a collecting mode, and I learnt to always carry a small basket or bag for their collections. Sometimes it was leaves, other times it was shells, and sometimes it was stones – from pebbles to rocks! The child would decide if the speciman was ‘worth’ collecting….. maybe based on the colour, the size, the shape, some patterns on it, or just because they liked it! As they collected, they would be describing to me, what was special about it.
We’d see so many beautiful things – the clouds, the flowers, an ant walking with a load.
We’d hear the crickets chirping, the cows moo-ing in the next field, and the cars is the distance.
We’d feel the sun on our backs or the breeze in our faces, and feel annoyed when the flies buzzed around us, and excited when we saw a beautiful butterfly.
At the end of the walk they could decide which 3 items they could take home, and that involved some serious conversation about the merits of one rock/ shell or leaf over another.
Spending time like this – with your children in nature – has so many benefits. You are getting to know more about your child through the conversations you have with them as you walk, through noticing the way they move – both physically and also their delight and excitement about the ‘little things’ in life – the ‘wow factor’ over a rainbow, or a pretty flower, or a b-i-g rock. Children are so open about their emotional state.
You are also getting some fresh air and exercise. We receive health messages from the media as well as medical professionals, that we are all sitting too much and not moving enough. Going for walks with your child is one way to help both of you move towards good health.
Being attentive to your child’s needs is so important, and being away from the busy-ness of the home environment allows us to do this better. We aren’t distracted by the need to start cooking dinner or to weed the garden, and so we can just focus on the child.
When we are walking with our child we are also giving their little brains a break from all the screen and technology time in the house. Computers and ipads have given us so much information and also some fun activities, but, they are very passive and involve lots of ‘head space’. Going for a walk involves being active, and also stimulates all the senses (in a completely different way to a device). On a walk you use your eyes, your hearing, your sense of smell, as well as language, and thought processes.
As well, the parent also benefits because having children allows us to effectively have a second childhood – to delight along-side your child in the magic of nature – the sparkles of raindrops on a flower petal and the awe of a rainbow, to enjoying jumping from rock to rock on a crossing or to lay on the grass and watch the clouds roll by.
Take your child on a walk this week, and notice how much fun they have, and how great you feel after a little ‘time-out’ from the everyday routine!
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