Monday, 21 October 2013

Why Don't You Just Switch Off Your Television Set and Go and Do Something Less Boring Instead?

Rainy Day Walks and Connecting with Nature.

collecting acorns

It really is time to get children to turn off the TV set and get outside this autumn. Last week the RSPB published findings from their three year research project which showed an alarming disconnect between children and nature. This has implications for both childhood and for the future of nature. I love to get outdoors with my children, but really I have my husband to thank for that. As a child I didn't have many opportunities to connect with nature and explore the great outdoors, it's something I've grown to enjoy as an adult through a love of running, cycling and walking. If I'm honest I'm still a bit risk averse and would rather be the parent at the bottom of the tree that half way up it, but I love our outdoor adventures and I love that my children do too.

Autumn is here, the weather is cooler and wetter and so begins the switch from days out to days in. But actually there's no more exciting time to tog up and get outdoors especially as colder months can be an expensive time with children. I'm all for an afternoon at a museum, swimming pool or soft play but why not explore what's on your doorstep for free? A few years ago on a winter walk my daughter said to me  'I always think I don't want to go for a walk when we're at home, but once we're out I love it'. So now I never doubt that they'll enjoy it even if there's a grumble or two before we leave the house. 

take a spotter's guide to identify trees, insects, birds and flowers
 As parents it is us that need to encourage children to spend time outdoors and the easiest way is to enjoy it with them.  Project Wild Thing, a campaign to get children off their sofas and out in 'the wild', has some great ideas if you're stuck for inspiration. It has activities that last from just 30 minutes to ones that will last a whole day and The British Heart Foundation  has a list of tips for getting active and keeping healthy through play too. Apart from the obvious benefits of adopting a healthier lifestyle and raising awareness of our natural environment, enjoying the great outdoors can have a positive impact on your family life and relationships. At a time when parents find it increasingly hard to engage in play at home, with all the many distractions of technology and the pressures of modern living, getting outdoors can be an opportunity to enjoy time together. It enables conversation and shared experiences and it could be a great way to get together with grandparents and friends and a good way to make happy childhood memories along the way.

tree's for mums and dads too!

Here are my easy tips for enjoying the great outdoors this Autumn

'There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing'.
Sir Ranulph Fiennes
  • Wear the right clothes for the weather, then you can get wet and muddy and still have fun.
  • Take a drink, kid's camelbaks are great or take a flask of hot chocolate for you all to share.
  • Use a bucket or container to collect fallen conkers, leaves and acorns etc.
  • Print a map or draw a simple map for younger children and let them lead a walk. 
  • Make a sheet of things to spot, or take a spotter's guide from Usborne Books.
  • Take photographs of insects and plants and put them in a scrap book instead of picking them. 
  • Respect the countryside and others by following The Countryside Code.
  • Consider a back carrier, that way little legs can rest when the need to and you can stay out longer.
  • Take paper and crayons if it's dry for bark and leaf rubbings and drawings.
  • Be inspired and enjoy autumn craft activities and nature boxes at home.
  • Create a home for nature, follow tips from the RSPB.
  • Rainy day? Don't stay in, put your wellies on and splash in puddles and sing rainy day songs.
  • Keep children safe especially near water and carry a basic first aid kit.
  • If you're struggling to get children away from the gadgets take a GPS or try Geocaching.

happiest a muddy puddle!

Follow my blog for our half term crafts inspired by our autumn adventures.

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