Get Outside

outside baby

How much time do you and your little one spend in the great outdoors?

As for me? Not enough. I was pondering this fact today as I was trapped in my office looking out onto a gorgeous day filled with blue skies and sunshine. Sigh.

As a mama to a munchkin, you may find yourself simply struggling to eat, sleep and get a shower, let alone pack up and head outside for playtime or simply some fresh air. I'm with you.

I work, cook, clean-up, and sometimes, by the time there is time to play, I'm done.

I recently stumbled across the book “Last Child In the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder.” Nature WHAT disorder? Yep, nature-deficit disorder. As if we parents don't have enough to worry about.

Written by Richard Louv a few years ago, this book links the lack of nature in the lives of today's wired generation to some of today's most alarming childhood trends, such as obesity rates, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), and depression.

What do you think? Can it be? Do you believe there could be a link between the time we spend indoors vs. outdoors and the health and well-being of our kiddos?

I consider myself to be an outdoorsy girl. I'd like to think I am raising my child to appreciate and value nature and all that it has to offer as well. The question is, when working, cooking, cleaning, and simply trying to stay afloat, how DOES a family make and take the time to get outside daily?

If you're struggling to get outside, even when the weather is grand, here are a few thoughts:

*Babies and young children are portable:  baby-wearing, baby-carrying or an all-terrain jogging stroller (highly recommend) make it easier.

*No time is a bad time to get outside. One thing that works best in our household is the early morning walk with two dogs and a jogging stroller with the kiddo munching a kid-friendly breakfast as we meander through the neighborhood. Kiddo gets breakfast, dogs get walked and mama gets exercise. It's my favorite kind of multi-tasking.

*You don't have to venture far from home to enjoy Mother Nature. My favorite evenings are spent in our own backyard rolling a ball around and digging in the dirt with the munchkin.

*The majority of outdoor activities are free. It's a great investment for the soul, too.

Though I certainly don't think our family is suffering from nature-deficit disorder, I could certainly use a little more outdoor time.

What about you and yours? Where are you heading out to today?

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Get Outside

Jeannie Fleming-Gifford is a mama to one little lady, freelance writer, and the director of education for a non-profit community school of the arts. Graduating with a B.A. in Music and a M.A. in Child Development, Jeannie began her career in quality child development programs as a teacher, then moved into creative administrative roles with science centers, symphony orchestras and arts programs. Owner of 170+ year old house, Jeannie loves living in small town America where walks to the park and ... More

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13 comments

  1. Jessica says:

    Every day we go outside and she sits in her stroller and looks around and sometimes we go for walks. Just getting fresh air tires her out and relaxes her. Even though she is only 4months old she likes to be outside. Even if we are just sitting in the shaded garage looking out she enjoys it. She loves the fresh air and going to the zoo every week. She just loves getting out of the house.

  2. When I had my first two children 17 and 19 years ago I used to take them out in the garden with me and let them help me pick the vegis. I would play on their swing set with them. I now have a 6 month old daughter and it’s the same thing, except now they have nifty new things to help you out in the hands free category. I take my girl out in a sling to water the garden and feed the chickens and goats. And after we get done with that, we sit out on the deck in the swing and I enjoy my cup of coffee while we listen to the sounds of nature. When I was planting the garden, I would take her up in the stroller with some toys and she would sit there patiently while I planted.

  3. nichole says:

    Everyday i tell myself, "Tomorrow we’ll go outside and have a picnic and walk along the trails and this and that and yaye fun!!" But, like you said once everything is done, feedings, cleaning, online college classes, work, its like whoa tomorrow well do it. Thus, the cycle begins again. I ust have to force myself to do it. My son is an outdoorsy type all the way. He loves the sight of outside and when he feels the sun beat down on him, there’s nothing that makes him smile bigger. I have to do it for him.

  4. Christijean says:

    Im a full-time working single mom of a 4 yr old and a 5 wk old. We make a habit of going camping or to the lake/creek atleast once a week. My entire family are outdoor people. Before i had my 5 wk old we would spend months at a time camping. Its easy when you live close to a lake/camping area. 🙂

  5. Andrea says:

    I am a stay-at-home mom of 2-18wk old girl and 2yo boy. I find it extremely hard to get outside!! My husband is a police officer and works fr 2-12am, so he’s not here to help me. We live in an apartment, so I cant just let my son go out and run around as I would if we had a house. It’s almost pointless to take him to the playground bc there aren’t many children his age around, and I can’t play with him bc I have my 18wk old in my arms or in a stroller! Not to mention the fact that going outside ONLY happens if my baby is having a good day. She’s pretty demanding, but what 4month old isn’t? My son would really benefit from daycare, but we just can’t afford it right now. Any suggestions?

  6. Carina says:

    I was a single mom until recently and fortunately or unfortunately the job I have that support us is not close to home so from 630 am to 600 pm my 5yr old is either sitting in traffic with me or at school, while he does get playtime outside at school I still feel bad that I don’t get much outside playtime with him during the week. By the time we get home, make and eat dinner it’s almost time to get washed up for bed. Can’t we just extend days a few more hours to say 28 hours a day??

  7. Jess says:

    This is such a difficult problem, especially for us urban dwellers! We are lucky: we have a bit of backyard to work with. My 3 year old gardens with me, we grill outside, and we have "snack picnics" whenever we can. I also have him do scavenger hunts when we are out walking to the train or whatever: "find a flower", "find a puddle", "find a red leaf", whatever. And then I just try to remind myself that I need to take him out even when it’s uncomfortable for me (in rain, in snow, etc. so long as it isn’t dangerous to him.). But I still don’t take him out as much as I should. 🙁

  8. Leslie says:

    my daughter loves going for rides in the car since I’m an avon lady when I drop of books to my customers. its nice to have someone to talk to even if she can’t understand yet what I’m saying. I’m personal an indoor person, but do get outside once in a while.

  9. My son can be crying but as soon as I take him outside wow he gets happy, he love the outdoors and every time we go to the park, pool or do any outside activity he is so active and observant…I definitely encourage moms to go more often to the park or to any outdoor place.

  10. heps7 says:

    my son loves to be outside. any time the door opens he crawls to it and tries to get out.

  11. meredith says:

    My little guy is having an adversion to grass right now. He doesn’t like the feel of it when he’s crawling, so we’re just mainly taking walks in the stroller right now until he gets used to the grass again.

  12. Danielle says:

    My daughter is on the verge of walking. For the longest (weeks?) time, she wouldn’t stand up on her own in the house. But put her in the grass, and she immediately stood up. We are outside everyday!

  13. Jess1477 says:

    Interesting article

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