Do you love being outside? Whether it’s a quick walk to the mailbox or a hike through the woods?
Maybe you tried to take your toddler on your latest hike. Or you took them for a swim at the lake. Either way, it didn’t turn out as you’d hoped. Maybe they prefer to see nature on TV rather than in person.
A relationship with nature can be the key to raising a healthy, active child. And it can be the key to protect nature from future mistreatment.
The Benefits of a Relationship with Nature
According to a recent study, there was a direct correlation between the number of trees in a neighborhood and how much time children there spent in active play outside.
Other studies found that being outside can also decrease your child’s anxiety and improve focus. There is even a study that links time outside to higher test scores. Playing outside can actually make your child smarter!
There are so many ways to fill your time, it’s easy to forget about what’s waiting outside your door. A relationship started with nature now can help your child
- Watch less TV
- Be kind towards the environment
- Connect more with family
How to Get Your Child Interested in Nature
1 Open Your Blinds
When was the last time you opened your blinds? It might be longer than you think since you last let the sunshine in. Light from the window can cause a glare on most screens. So, it’s easy to leave the blinds down. Try opening up the blinds first thing in the morning and see you little one look out on what the world has to offer.
My kiddo is obsessed with windows. He loves running up to them and telling me all about what’s going on outside. You could even treat it as your own nature channel! Have fun describing to each other what the animals and plants are doing.
2 Bring a Play Pen Outside for Yardwork
This one isn’t as easy. Some toddlers, mine included, are not fans of playpens. They don’t like being contained from all the interesting things to touch and explore. Still, give it a try!
Your little one might complain at first. But after a few minutes, they’re usually too distracted by all the things going on. And if they have a good view of what you’re doing, they might just watch you.
I’d recommend getting all your tools assembled before you start and then bring out the playpen. Pick an area of your yard to weed or rake and make sure the playpen has a good view of what you’re doing. That way you can keep a close eye on your toddler, and they can keep a close eye on you.
Weeding or raking leaves are great tasks for this. Anything with loud tools like a weedwhacker or hedge trimmer will just upset your little one more.
3. Spend Time Outside Every Day
5 minutes is an amount of time anyone can commit to. Promise your toddler that no matter what the weather is or how busy you are, you’ll spend 5 minutes outside together every day.
You can walk to the mailbox together and stop to look at some flowers. Go for a short wagon ride. Or jump into some freshly raked leaves!
When you have more than 5 minutes to spend outside, great! But, don’t stress if all you do is walk to the mailbox and back. Just take that time to point out what you see to your toddler (a blue jay, a tree with falling leaves, some squirrels scampering away) and spend that time mindfully present.
4. Let Your Toddler Help You Harvest
If you have a vegetable or herb garden this is easy. Let them help haul in the harvest. If not, find a local farm with a you-pick option to get them involved with where their food comes from.
I’m not a huge gardener myself. But letting my son help pick the tomatoes off our plants made him ridiculously happy. He loves tomatoes and thought it was hilarious to squeeze them and try to pop them into his mouth.
Some common things you can pick at other farms are apples, raspberries, strawberries, and pumpkins. Right now, you could find a local orchard or pumpkin patch to visit with your toddler.
I encourage you to ask around and see if any of your local farms have tours or allow you to help with the harvest. Most farmers would love to have an extra set of hands.
It’s wonderful to plan an approach. But embrace whatever works for you and your little one. If they love looking at ants, go for it! If they want to touch every leaf, let them. If you just sit outside and listen to the leaves in the breeze, enjoy!
What do you have time to do outside today?