Nature Promotes Parental Sanity

getting outside nature parentingI’ve shared before that my daughter Hannah cried a lot as a baby. She was just one of those kids who had a great set of lungs on her, and wasn’t afraid to use them. As a result, I came up with a lot of coping mechanisms, both to deal with the crying, and to help fend it off. I went to as many playgroups as possible (I was the only one with a two-month-old at baby time at the library). I used baby carriers and memorized The Happiest Baby on the Block. One of the first coping mechanisms I came up with, however, was to head outside.

Somehow, being outdoors makes pretty much everything better, no matter your age. Of course, sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate, but even standing out on the front porch on a rainy day feels different than standing in the living room with a cranky child. The air is different. The sounds are different. The world is different. In fact, there’s even research that suggests that engaging with nature – whether looking at photos in a book, taking a walk through your neighbourhood, or working in the garden – has positive mental health effects. It’s lovely to have scientific evidence, but I think most of us know instinctively that nature makes things better.

Now that school is underway, I’m out walking in my neighbourhood more regularly again, as I make the twice-daily trek to the school and back in the morning and afternoon. While it’s certainly more fun to be out there on warm and sunny days than cold and rainy days, I notice that I feel better when I’m getting this daily fresh air and exercise regardless of the weather. As a result, I’m a little calmer and more patient with my kids. Plus, when they’re out walking and running and collecting sticks and rocks and leaves on the way to school and back, they’re less prone to tearing up my house back at home.

Of course, not everyone walks to school and back every day. I didn’t myself, over the summer. All the same, I think most of us can make a few minutes to get outside most days. Over the summer, when I wasn’t walking to school and everyone’s nerves were fraying, getting outside was a sure-fire cure. Sometimes that meant heading to a local park or lake. Sometimes it meant working in the garden. And sometimes it just meant opening the back door and heading into the yard. After a few breaths outside, the world just seems that much easier to handle.

I was inspired to write this post for to the 10 Week Peaceful Parenting Challenge Blog Carniva hosted by Prenatal to Parenting. This week the participants have written about spending time outside. We hope you enjoy this week’s posts and consider joining us next week when we share about a week of practicing yoga.

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

Some of My Favourite Things – Sarah from Prenatal to Parenting shares some of her favourite things to do outside with her kids.

Get Outside – Peaceful Parenting Challenge – Week 9 Katrina from Kalem Photography has made quite a few changes since this challenge began and wonders if you have.

Nature Promotes Parental Sanity – Amber from declares getting outside a fantastic coping mechanisms for difficult parenting days.

Week #9- Spending Time Outside – Jennifer from the Children’s Directory let the expert lead the way.

Amy from The Connection We Share takes a break from work to go fly a kite.

Week 9 – Get Outside – Amanda from Sticky Hands spends the week camping.

Week 9 – Spending Time Outside -Kathryn from Curiosity and the Kat learns that her agenda isn’t always the same as her twins.

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  1. Shinrin-yoku: Japanese noun, literally forest bathing, a visit to the forest for relaxation, being in the presence of trees for health.

    Being around water has the same benefits for me. My happy place is along my local tree lined river dyke.
    christy’s last post … {this moment}My Profile

  2. Going outside was often my go-to method of calming a crying baby — especially with my first one. I’ve heard this is true for MANY babies. Being outside is really our natural element, I think. Lucky you, walking to and from school everyday! I can only dream, but we do try hard to be outside together everyday. We need more neighborhood walks, though…
    Betsy (Eco-novice)’s last post … School Lunch Tips from a Former TeacherMy Profile

  3. Zeke (3 months now) is a very crabby baby. He is probably still an ‘easy’ baby by many standards (usually more fussy than wailing, and no purple crying or colic) but compared to his brother, he’s a handful. While Sebastian was happy just being held by Mama, Zeke’s happy place is decidedly being outdoors. Even just moving his bouncer five feet outside the back door typically results in instant calm.

    This was the first year in 6 years that we didn’t attend our annual group camping trip and the difference can definitely be felt. (Although one of my favorite parts of camping is simply the newfound appreciation for being back home, with heating and showers.)
    Janine’s last post … Thighlettes – A sexy solution for thigh chafingMy Profile

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