This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared their stories and tips for playing outside with kids. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
I grew up in New Hampshire, surrounded by trees and wildlife, with summers filled with grand adventures in the woods or at the lake shore, so when I dreamed of having a child I thought she would have a similar experience. But here I am as a new mama, and my life has taken a different path, at least for now. We live in a city, and though there are trees, there's also a lot of concrete. And while I appreciate museums and public transportation, I'm not sure my baby feels the same. Personally, I feel that grass-between-the-toes is a developmentally necessary experience...so what's an urban mama to do?
Step 1: go outside
Step 2: get creative!!
Forest Preserves seem to be well-guarded secrets around here (that, or they are just so big, I hardly see anyone when we voyage out to one!) At least twice a month, Ella and I take a day trip to walk through the woods, touch leaves, smell moss, and listen to the birds. We forage for wild mushrooms and berries. We sing so loud we can hear our own echos. We play on rocks.
But sometimes it's cold or too hot out, or we are feeling bored and cranky, and we need to get out of the house NOW. It's amazing all that can be accomplished in an eight-by-three foot space (otherwise known as our porch!) In the winter I watched Ella mesmerized by snowflakes, marveling at how snow seemed to disappear each time I placed a bit into her hand. In the summer we have moved the baby tub out from the bathroom as a makeshift deck pool for a new found skill (splashing!)
The best part about outdoor fun is that it's also outdoor learning. Learning to crawl in the grass, learning colors, new sounds and smells, discovering gravity, textures, and even new tastes! How else can you teach your child about wind without feeling it? Watching bubbles float away. Hearing leaves rustle. Feeling sand blowing past. Splashing in a lake that looks like an ocean.
I want my daughter to grow up with the same love of the outdoors as I did - with our daily excursions, big or small, I think we're on our way!
Visit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
- Garden Treats — Asha at Mom Costume has once again been bitten by the gardening bug — and this time her baby's tagging along for some fresh air and dirt exploration. (@titbagsandsnoot)
- Outdoor Free Roam — Mamapoekie at Authentic Parenting follows her daughter's lead whenever they go outside. (@mamapoekie)
- Summer fun in Austin with a toddler — Jessica at This Is Worthwhile is brainstorming ways to beat the heat in Texas. (@tisworthwhile)
- summer fun… — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children is looking forward to spending the summer outside with her children the way she used to spend summers with her mother.
- Outdoor Fun for Pre-Walkers — Maman A Droit has figured out ways to let her pre-walker enjoy the outdoors. (@MamanADroit)
- Summer Homeschool Fun at Camp Review — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now discusses how Camp Review motivated and captivated her homeschooling family. (@DebChitwood)
- Digging, Tree Climbing and Puddle Jumping — Laura at Laura's Blog bemoans the loss of her girls' climbing tree but knows they'll find something else just as naturally tempting.
- The Sweet Smells of Summer — Erin at A Beatnik's Beat on Life is looking forward to the many smells of summer she and her daughters enjoy and identify. (@babybeatnik)
- June Carnival of Natural Parenting: Outdoor Fun — Sybil at Musings of a Milk Maker is a confirmed couch potato who can't help but be inspired by the outdoor opportunities Seattle offers her family. (@sybilryan)
- Take a Hike — Michelle at The Parent Vortex connects with her family and the Earth on frequent hikes in their Pacific wilderness. (@TheParentVortex)
- Following Paul — Julie at Simple Life gives her kids unstructured time to dig in the dirt and pick mulberries. (@homemakerjulie)
- Instilling a Love of the Outdoors in Your Baby/Toddler — Tessasdad at Stay At Home Dad in Lansing offers a photo book of tips for helping your little ones enjoy the outdoors. (@tessasdad)
- Camping, baby! — Jen at Grow With Graces has easy tips for tent camping with a little one. (@growwithgraces)
- Think Outside the Easel for Summertime Fun — Acacia at Be Present Mama finds several ways to bring art fun to the outdoors.
- Outdoor Learning in our Urban Environment — Andrea at Ella-Bean & Co. has found ways to get grass between her daughter's toes, even in the city.
- Outdoor Education — Alison at BluebirdMama offers parents tips and resources for making each outdoor excursion a learning experience. (@childbearing)
- Turning Inside Out — Christie of Childhood 101 finds kids get a kick out of taking indoor toys outside. (@Childhood101)
- Watching Peas Sprout — Deb at Science@home combines fun with purpose in this educational outdoor activity. (@ScienceMum)
- How To Create a Pirate Treasure Hunt & Other Easy Outdoor Pirate Activities (June Carnival of Natural Parenting) — Dionna at Code Name: Mama has pirate-themed play ideas for ye scurvy landlubbers. (@CodeNameMama)
- What We Do — Luschka at Diary of a First Child has managed to expose her 8-month-old to a wide variety of outdoor fun, even with the notoriously dreary UK weather. (@diaryfirstchild)
- Summer Fun — Darcel at The Mahogany Way finds her family's visits to the beach refreshing in so many ways. (@MahoganyWayMama)
- Playing outside without a backyard — Sheryl at Little Snowflakes doesn't let the lack of a backyard stop her family from enjoying the outdoors. There are plenty of things to do outside of your yard! (@sheryljesin)
- Having Fun Outdoors, Playset Free — Guavalicious at They Are So Cute When They Are Sleeping has resisted a backyard playset in favor of the regular backyard. (@guavalicious)
- Moon Gazing with your Toddler — Paige at Baby Dust Diaries is keeping her toddler up at night, but it's for a good reason: to share the wonders of the night sky! (@babydust)
- the great outdoors — The grumbles at grumbles and grunts wonders whether her urban child can experience the same free-range childhood she enjoyed. (@thegrumbles)
- Let's Take It Outside! — NavelgazingBajan at Navelgazing is looking for ideas: how can she spend time with her pre-walker outside this summer? (@BlkWmnDoBF)
- A home by the sea: June Carnival of Natural Parenting: Outdoor fun — Lauren at Hobo Mama is living her dream of a home near the beach, and taking full advantage of it. (@Hobo_Mama)
- An Outside Girl — Zoey at Good Goog moved her family to (almost) the middle of nowhere so that her outdoor-loving girl could have more grass and less concrete. (@zoeyspeak)
- Neighborhood Nature — Kelly at Kelly Naturally has learned to connect with the nature she has instead of mourning the nature she misses. (@kellynaturally)
- Building Lovely Memories of Swimming, Spiders and Gravestones — Joni Rae at Tales of a Kitchen Witch and her family are simply outdoorsy people. (@kitchenwitch)
- "Buh-Bye" Season — Danielle at born.in.japan must leave laundry behind and follow her son's call to the outdoors. (@borninjp)
- Backyard Camping — Becoming Mamas took her family camping very close to home! (@becomingmamas)
- The Color of Dreams — Seeking Mother at Woman Seeking Mother makes gardening magical by teaching her son that each flower is a faery. (@seekingmother)