by Lisa Bicknell, CVT Editor
Our two oldest grand-kiddos were at my house the other day while their momma was at work.
I try to keep them off “screens” as much as possible, but that’s a lane they continually want to drift into.
We had made breakfast, eaten breakfast, and read a storybook on the front porch swing. They were getting a bit antsy, so I jotted down a list of clues for them to look for in our front yard.
We called it a scavenger hunt. They didn’t really have to bring me anything (except five empty cicada shells apiece); they just had to look for things. Notice them. Really see them.
Clay and Oaklee really enjoyed this simple activity, and I did too. It was fun to watch them, to see the cogs turning in their head, to watch them notice things they maybe hadn’t before. It was fun for me to discover the things they had noticed that I didn’t think they had.
They sped through my list, so I made a second one on the back side of the paper.
Thinking about this activity later on made me wonder how much we miss as we go through our daily routines.
How much richer would our lives be if we paid more attention?
Did you see that gorgeous full moon rising on Tuesday evening? Or the streaks of bright color in the evening sky the following night as the sun sank out of sight after the rain clouds dissipated?
Have you noticed the scent of wild roses and honeysuckle when you are outside?
How about your last meal? Did you really taste it, savor it? Did you consider how it would nourish your body and contribute to your health? (Or not?)
What we appreciate, our kids tend to appreciate, so there’s that to consider as well.
Summer break is a great time to practice mindfulness. That’s the trendy word, but what it really means is to practice paying attention.
And what better place to do that than outdoors?
One mom of five kids has started a “1000 Hours Outside” movement. The idea behind it is to encourage children to match screen time with outdoor time.
According to 1000hoursoutside.com, kids spend an average of 1,200 hours a year staring at screens—their phones, computers and televisions.
The website has dozens of ideas for ways to spend more time outside, and there are some handy printable tracking sheets that make it easy and fun to keep up with outdoor time.
On the website, there’s also a blogpost that gives “100 reasons to spend 1,000 hours outdoors.”
Among them? Being outdoors results in many benefits to our physical health, including an increase in immunity, fewer allergies, stronger bones (from the vitamin D our bodies produce when we are out in the sun), even better digestion. Children who spend a lot of time outdoors are sick less often.
Spending time outdoors also improves our mental health and reduces bullying behaviors in children. It calms us and reduces stress. It helps us focus better and reduces anxiety and depression. It gives us a feeling of peace.
Want to raise a smarter kid? According to this website, children who participate in outdoor science programs improve science scores by 27 percent. They are said to score better on standardized tests, are better developed emotionally, and have better cognitive development overall.
There are many more good reasons to be outdoors, but I can testify to the fact that time outdoors refreshes, calms and restores me better than just about anything else.
Besides all that, a nature hike or a wade in a creek are all inexpensive fun—much cheaper than a movie and popcorn!
Have a great week, folks.
See you outside!