One of the ways I waste time online is by reading articles on child-rearing and homemaking. To be sure, in reasonable quantities, this can be helpful; in fact, I have learned a great deal in my “continuing education” endeavors. (It is only when one spends large quantities of time on this–like yours truly does–that it becomes an issue.)
In one such online session, I came across an interesting fact sheet regarding the value of time spent outdoors. One fact that stood out is that the average American child spends 30 minutes or less outside.
I took this as a call to action. I like to think we do a pretty job of getting the kids outside and off screens, but reading this really hit home how absolutely essential play–especially unstructured, outdoor play–is.
Not only can playing outside bestow all the benefits mentioned on that fact sheet, but as a mother, I also notice a huge difference in my kids when they spend time outside versus when they don’t. For starters, I notice they sleep much better–Mother Nature is a great sleep aid!
Their behavior is also vastly improved when they spend a few hours outside, perhaps in part because of the amount of sensory input they receive while outdoors. They are less likely to get into mischief when they have had a daily dose of the outdoors.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, their appreciation and concern for nature is unparalleled, and I believe this is as a result of the large amount of time they spend playing outside. I see more environmental awareness come from two small children than from many adults I know–myself included!
Maybe one of the best stewardship practices out there is to take a page from children, and relish spending time outdoors!