Strapped for Time and Green Space? How to Fit Nature into the Schedule

We are overscheduled.

We are also over-worked, over-budget, over-stimulated, wired up, and stressed out. We couldn’t be more in need of some time spent in nature.

Then we see that our kids are in the same boat when we see that zombie-face stare on their faces, mouth agape, thumbs flying, “Just one more minute. Then I can save the game.”

Sound familiar?

We know our kids all have nature-deficit disorder.

If your kid is like mine, you know damned well that 9 out of 10 times if you were to give them a option to sit on the couch with their screen of choice, or head outside to kick the ball around, what they’ll most often do.

If your kid is different, I congratulate you, and your kid. You are among the few.

So given our present situation, what if you’d love to get outside, but feel you just don’t have the time? Or what if you are one of the many who lives in a city where you may not HAVE a backyard?

So many obstacles, but at the end of the day, we all still need nature – especially our kids.

Nature helps develop their executive functioning in ways that sitting around the house cannot. Nature calms racing minds. It boosts the immune system, lowers heart rate and lowers cortisol levels. It soothes angry outbursts. It helps us sleep better. Nature does so much, but that’s another post for another day.

Let’s just tackle the getting outside part.

Like dieting – and I hate to compare nature to that because I hate diets but…Just like dieting, there is no quick fix for this. You cannot bring nature indoors. You cannot take a shot for it, and you can’t just get a big dose of it once a year.

However, there are things you can do though to make it easier on yourself:

SMALL DOSES

Sometimes, people say they “don’t like nature” because they perceive that it requires such time and effort to get outside, that they get this feeling of dread thinking about the huge commitment they think spending time in nature will take.

In reality, you don’t need all that much time. Even if you just spend 15 minutes in nature,   you and your kids can reap the benefits, without making a whole day of it. You just need to plan ahead. Pack the shoes or jackets in the car and head to the park on the way home from work or school. Fit it in, just like you would other daily tasks like emptying the dishwasher or folding laundry.

LIKE BRUSHING YOUR TEETH

Tasks are easiest when they become part of your routine. Maybe you’ve got a half hour on Tuesdays and Thursdays to hit the park and throw the ball around a bit, or even just take a walk in your neighborhood as a family after dinner.

Decide on just getting out a little bit at first. Then when you start to love it, add on a little more time. If you don’t have a backyard, look up the nearest green space in your neighborhood and make a visit.

DO IT TO SET AN EXAMPLE

If you want your kids to love nature and connect with it, you need to do the same. You know from looking at yourself and your parents, that you do a lot of the things the way they do. It’s all learned.

Your kids may not grow up to be nature buffs, but by introducing them to the outdoors, and helping them get excited about it any way you can, they will have a deep understanding and appreciation for it in the long run.

KEEP AN OPEN MIND

If you don’t like taking time out for nature, explore why.

As you step outside with your kids, think about what it brings up for you, and make the effort to build awareness around it, to see if it’s something you can look at differently, or overcome.

PRACTICE GRATITUDE

It’s likely that the more time you spend outside, the more you will learn to enjoy that time, and appreciate the good nature and gratitude gives back to you.

Don’t forget to acknowledge your gratitude, and help your kids learn to be grateful too. Have casual talks about what they like most about being outside.

Doing so will help you find activities that you both can enjoy.  Doing activities together will help you connect with one another when you’re out there, to make it more enjoyable and meaningful for you both.

What’s one thing you can do this week to bring a little more nature into your and your kids’ lives? Now share it below! Your contribution could help another reader, and we are all here to learn, inspire, and be inspired! Thanks for connecting!

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