“All my life through, the new sights of Nature made me rejoice like a child.” ~ Marie Curie
As a kid, any day we didn’t have school, weekends, snow days, vacation, my Mom would shove us out the door, call us back for lunch and then kick us out again until dinner time. Perhaps I was truly channeling the Gemini in me, or living the best of both worlds, but I would play in the dirt and climb trees while in a dress. Happily enjoying the outdoors while STILL channeling my inner fashionista, even if looking back now all that tulle and glitter were fashion fails.
I never thought of myself as someone who loved the outdoors. Yes, I was athletic and I still love hiking a mountain, if not more now. BUT I hate bugs. HATE them. And honestly while dirt isn’t horrible, I hate the thought of not being able to wash my hands. (Yeah the whole washing your hands for twenty second is not big deal for me guys! I do it for forty!) And getting to the nitty gritty of TMI, while yes I have peed outside, in what was apparently a snake den (Thank god I didn’t know it until AFTER the fact, and yes that might have been TMI.) I would really just rather not.
Because of that, I always kinda thought I was to much of a princess to be a mountain girl, but then we do live in a world that is very much black and white, and there are so many shades of grey. Yes, I hike with TP and baby wipes, (when their was a shortage, I thankfully had some stowed in my hiking backpack) that doesn’t make me less of an outdoor girl, just an extremely prepared one who likes my amenities. (peeing in a snake den, scarred me for life guys) There is also the fact I LOVE the beach, and living and breathing it 24/7 would not be enough for me.
Sharing the Outdoors with the Littles
Since the time my nephews and niece were little, my brother would throw them in a backpack carrier and we would go hiking not only taking growing up in the mountains to the next level but instilling that love and respect of nature. Just last week my three year old niece hiked up a mountain three plus miles round trip all by herself.
Last summer when we couldn’t go to the beach, we would blow the pool up and my nephews and nieces would play outside, while I would sit in a beach chair, get some work done, and sometimes even dive in with them…after all a kiddie pool was basically made for me. Anytime I had them and it was decent weather, I would have them outside, and that continued this past winter, when I would watch my niece.
Now that schools are shut-down and the weather is getting nicer AND warmer, my nephews, who are doing remote learning, and my niece, who is in pre-school, are outside more then ever. My brother has even designated recess, in between their studies. Because it is still to cold for the pool, (unfortunately) keeping them engaged outside is as much a creative endeavor as it is a throwback to my childhood.
The kids must feel like Christmas has come again, with the quarantine has also come thinking up new ways to keep them entertained, whilst getting that vitamin D. As mentioned above, I am type A and there are some toys, that while I love playing with them, are solely outdoor toys because of the mess they create.
I grew up with chalk and bubbles, and my nephews and niece love creating art on the pavement, and chasing and popping the bubbles, almost more then blowing them. I know where I get my Type A-ness from, because my Mom never let us play with play dough, even outside, because of the mess. Auntie is a little bit more lenient, and they can play with them, outside of course. Not that they need encouragement to get outside, but whenever they are here they are always begging to go out and play with the Kinetic Sand we got them.
I didn’t grow up with Kinetic Sand, but I kinda wish I had. It is magnetic sand which comes in a bunch of fun different colors and you can shape and mold into all kinds of designs. Many of the kits come with tools to create shapes whether it is a castle or a crab or a big ol’ pile. It keeps the kiddos (and me) entertained for hours. When they are done, I put it in sealed bags so they can play with it next time.
As I mentioned, my brother has the kiddos outside for recess, during which he will play soccer and baseball, teaching them the rules as well as how to throw and kick the balls. We also will also throw it back to MY childhood, and play Jolly Green Giant (may we cross your valley) which is a version of tag we always played in PE.
My Mom picked up some jump ropes, so I have been teaching the littles how to jump rope with varied results. I had forgotten how much I loved to jump rope and what amazing exercise it is. In fact in school, I use to take part in Jump Rope for Heart every year. It s a fundraiser with the proceeds going to the American Heart Association. While I have lost most of my jump roping skills, I love that I am able to practice with the kiddos at the moment.
A throwback down childhood lane was when my nephew found an old skip it, which thanks to Amazon, you can still buy. Does anyone else remember skip its? I remember the colorful commercials on Nickelodeon and my siblings and I having skip it competitions. Much like jumping rope, it takes practice, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes addicting and my nephews are becoming quite the skip it champions.
The kiddos got scooters for Easter and the rest as they say is history. They have been little speed demons and dare devils. There is a large parking lot adjacent to my parent’s property where they can zoom up and down and even attempt some tricks. Since I am not that much taller, I have even tried it myself, though they are much more coordinated then I am.
Channeling My Inner Child
With the pandemic and social distancing, it is so easy to feel anxious, uncertain, and even bored. Heck, there is only so much Netflix and Chill you can do, especially if you are alone, which is why it is so important to get outside, even if it is just to sit in the sun (PLEASE apply sunscreen first!) and read a book. Nature is its very own therapeutic treatment. It gives us a sense of calm without realizing it.
Perspective, and the story we tell ourselves is everything. Being positive doesn’t mean you are ignoring what is going on, but that you are embracing the circumstances and finding joy where you can, even the most unsettling of times. For me that has been not only spending time with my nephews and niece, but also reconnecting with my childhood, that playing outside has allowed me to do. In all the uncertainty we still have that inner child, and now more then ever we need to let it shine through.
How are you doing? Do you like spending time outdoors? What are some outdoor activities you use to do as a kid? What is your favorite outdoor activity to do now?