I still remember very clearly the first 24 hours after my first daughter was born. All of the reality seemed lit by an incredible light, and I felt like a different person. I remember dropping my wife and our newborn Katie off at the house and then getting ready to rush to the grocery store. Somehow I remembered to pause outside my front door, and I took the time to use my Foxwalk and Owl-Eyes to go the ten or so steps to my car. In the many years since that moment, I’ve realized how totally important it is to include time for nature awareness and connection in order to be a more peaceful and less stressed parent.
Don’t get me wrong, I know how ridiculous it can be. We just had our second daughter 5 weeks ago. Tara is quite the sleeper but she has terrible colic, and my seven-year-old Katie is in second grade and in Foxes (a youth program) at Wilderness Awareness School. Oh, by the way, both my wife and I work, and she goes back to work next week. So, how the heck do you find the time to stay connected to nature and be a parent at the same time?
Well, I’ve had to figure this out since it’s my job to teach others about nature connection. Here are some ideas and pointers I’ve gathered along the last several years:
- Take your kid/baby/kids to your Sit Spot. I took Katie to my Sit Spot regularly when she was a baby. She would ride in the sling and sleep. Later, I would walk her in the stroller, and she would sleep in the stroller while I did my Sit Spot practice. She was sometimes fussy, whiny, or needed a diaper change, but we still went to the Sit Spot. Guess what? Now she does Sit Spot all the time by herself with no prompting.
- Make your backyard or front yard your Sit Spot. No, really. Don’t go far at all. I’ve seen eagles, owls, falcons, hawks, hummingbirds, raccoons, and a tons of other wildlife in either my front yard or backyard. If you don’t have one, find a city park nearby.
- Practice awareness walking your kids to school, to their friends’ house, etc. Take your dog for a walk and practice sensory awareness.
- Do journals and maps with your kids. My daughter loved doing nature journals and making maps. Believe it or not kids like to practice the core routines too. They might not even need prompting. Your journals might be a little bit simpler, but hey at least you’re getting them done.
- Practice your nature awareness while driving. Have to take the kids to soccer practice or a game? Start filling out that field inventory with things you see on the way there or while you’re at the game.
These are just a few ideas. Of course, over time you will find your own ways to do this. Just remember we all love to connect to nature. It’s part of our birthright. Kids are actually way better at it than we are; they haven’t forgotten how. It will help you to include them in the process, not exclude them from it.