Parenting is no joke. For most of us, it’s the hardest work we’ll ever do.
Alfie Kohn said it well… You know that expression we use to emphasize that something is, relatively speaking, not too hard? We say “it’s not rocket science!”
Kohn says we ought to change that expression to say instead, “it’s not parenting!”
But I don’t want to dwell here on the difficulty. I want to talk about what helps. A true balm to nearly every parenting difficulty.
For maximum effectiveness, not just anywhere. Somewhere with dirt and water, sticks and rocks. Somewhere woodsy. Touchable.
When your child is fussy and you can’t identify the cause…
When your four year old won’t stop provoking your two year old and you know you need to move them before someone gets hurt…
When you’re running on empty because you just need some time to hear your own thoughts…
Easier said than done, maybe… It’s not always easy getting everyone out the door in one piece! But it does get easier with practice. Here are a few tips for your nature day.
1. Pack all your food for the day.
All of it. 30 minutes in the morning, and you’re done until supper.
And not just for the kids! Don’t forget you. Sneak in a bit of chocolate. Enough berries for YOU to have some. And invest in a big picnic blanket and some rain pants for everyone so you can really get comfortable out there.
Just imagine… a day spent with your children without washing a single dish!
2. Consider leaving the toys at home
A good touchable natural spot will have all you need. The rule for play? Anything can be anything.
Sticks can be fishing rods. Bark can be boats. Eucalyptus pods can be money.
Watch your children, and you’ll be amazed to see what they invent.
3. Take it In
When you get that much anticipated quiet moment, when everyone is gainfully occupied, resist the urge to take out your phone. Instead, just… listen.
And if anything in your life feels hard to hold, ask for support. From the earth. The air. The trees. In the right spot, you’ll feel it all around you – how deeply you are supported.
You are a mother, just like that turtle over there. That heron. That squirrel.
Your children, yours and not yours. Children of the universe. As much as wolf pups. Owlets. Or stars.
How lovingly they too are held.
And all those ways human beings throughout time have found to personify the ineffable… The fairies of England. The little people of Iceland. Gnomes, elves, elementals.
There’s a reason all these things are so closely associated with nature in lore from throughout human history.
Because nature is the easiest place for most of us to connect with forces larger than ourselves.
It is hard as parents to imagine a love greater than our own for our children.
But I think we owe it to our little ones to try.
So that we can help them know and learn, in time, the deep resources that exist for them to draw upon. How vastly they are loved.
Go outside. Because it’s easier, there, to remember.
Want to get outside with us? Our Waldorf inspired, nature-based parent child music class, Meadowlark, meets outdoors on Fridays at the Botanical Garden! We also meet indoors at Natural Resources on Wednesdays.
Or, if you can’t make it to that, you can download our recordings for free. Our album features a collection of 27 songs for young nature lovers.