In this fast paced life we lead with timetables, schedules, routines and rules it’s important to take a break every once in a while to recharge the batteries. I firmly believe in the notion that a change is as good as a holiday and that it’s important to take a break from the everyday every once in a while.
This weekend I felt that we had all been cooped up inside a little too long and the time had come to get out and about as a family. We packed up the children, the car and the picnic lunch and headed out of town. Mostly I just wanted to involve everyone in a family activity that got us out of the house, away from electronic devices and housework and into the sunshine. I had thoughts of exercise, vitamin D and experiencing the wonder of nature. We did get all of those things but I was surprised and delighted with the unexpected outcomes of the day.
We were able to get away from the routine conversations about homework, piano practice and who left the towels on the floor of the bathroom. We talked about plants, flowers, insects on the path and even the types of rock that made up the waterway. The conversation flowed freely based on whatever we happened to be looking at at the time. There was none of that parents asking questions and children grunting answers stuff that frequently happens in the house.
The children thought themselves very clever and brave at climbing on rocks, jumping streams and hiking along bush tracks by themselves. They were able to test their abilities in a safe environment with just a tiny amount of risk. I noticed problem solving, independent decision making and creativity as an integral part of their play. I was pleasantly surprised at how a scraped hand barely got a mention sincentive it was acquired while trying to be the first to the top of a rock and was never mentioned again. Was the outdoor experience encouraging resilience too by any chance?
It was great to watch as they helped younger children they met to climb and jump, assisting and encouraging them. Practising social skills without the structures of school, clubs, teachers and parents is important and given that we have a small family and live on a quiet street, the opportunities my children have for socialising outside of organised activities is limited. It was great to see them getting along so well with others they had just met.
They took great interest in the environment around them, closely observing the birds and animals that seemed to appear out of nowhere. It’s amazing how quiet a child can be when a bird lands on the branch above their head and there is no guarantee it will hang around long enough to be looked at closely. That bird somehow becomes so much more interesting than one in a cage which cannot move away.
As soon as we got out of the car, the squabbling, niggling and arguing seemed to evaporate and that was just between the adults. Everyone seemed to enjoy each other’s company and no one had to be asked to ‘play nicely’ or ‘give your sister some space’. I don’t know if it was the physical activity, the wide open spaces, the fresh air or something else entirely but whatever it was, I want to help it happen more often.
We came to the end of the day with the realisation that we had been missing out on something rather special by not doing these types of things together more often. When the 13 year old minecraft lover says ‘We should do this every week!’ you know you’re on to a winner.
Grab your free copy of the “Timewrangling Technique Workbook” to see how you can make more time in your life for these types of experiences.
If you are looking for some gorgeous images to inspire you to get out and explore your little piece of the world, check out this beautiful coffee table book by National Geographic.