Today we played in a bluebell patch. We left the dishes unwashed, crumbs on the floors, toys and chairs overturned in the wake of the beautiful chaos that is childhood. Instead of cleaning and stressing over everything there always is to do, we chose to get outside and spent the morning enveloped in sunshine and flowers. To me, this is far more important, this cultivation of a relationship with the great outdoors and the power of nature to sooth our often-hurried souls.
When we’re in nature, we tend to forget about the clock, and that makes me happy. I believe that makes my little one happy, too. Her resistance to the urgency I often find I’m pushing on her – “Hurry up, it’s time to…” – frustrates me. Sometimes we do have to be timely, even though mostly we lag behind. I don’t think rushing is ever a beneficial thing. We lose so much when we rush. We don’t stop and smell the flowers, forgetting that life is about more than the schedule of appointments and errands. When I stop to think about the kind of childhood I want my little one to remember, rushing from place to place is not a part of my vision. Why, then, is it happening so often?
I read something recently that gave me a new perspective. It was along the lines of this: We need to stop the glorification of ‘busy’. Busy does not mean successful. (I wish I could remember who mentioned this, as I’d like to give them credit. Please let me know if this was you.) This thought has embedded itself in my brain. It cuts close to home. For a long, long time I have considered being busy a sign of success. However, with my life as busy as it has been of late, I have to admit that being busy doesn’t make me feel successful. Instead I feel rushed, disorganized, and unhappy. I feel like I’m doing a ton of things without excelling at anything.
Since reading this tidbit of wisdom, I’ve been making choices. Choices about what really, truly needs to be done, and what I can let go of. How I can make myself less busy, and allow myself to feel at peace in simply enjoying my life. How I can do the same for my daughter. I want us both to succeed in feeling happiness, not hurriedness, and connecting to the timelessness of nature. I want us to get outside more often, and to rush around less.
Words tend to be what sparks my brain into new understandings, better able to take on new perceptions. Here are some pieces that I want to share with you, in the hopes that these quotes and passages might do for you what they’ve done for me, reworking my mind’s priorities. I’ll start off with a couple passages from Deb Curtis and Margie Carter’s Learning Together with Young Children, one of my favourite Early Childhood Education text books.
An unhurried pace fosters a sense of security and possibilities, while a rushed one creates stress, fragmentation, and a sense of discouragement and resignation. When you slow down, you see more; you allow more time for relationships to grow and thinking to deepen. Research has shown that children need at least thirty minutes to engage fully and reap the benefits of their play and exploration (Johnson, Christie, and Yawkey 1987). – Page 4
In the past, spending time outdoors has always been a huge part of childhood…So much of our identity came from the landscape where we grew up. This is less true for children today…spending less and less time outdoors impairs children’s ability to learn as well as increases a multitude of other ailments. – Page 163
And now for some of my favourite quotes on giving children time and allowing them their right to get outside and experience nature. I would like to credit NatureforKids.net and ChildrenNatureAndYou.org as helpful sources for these quotes.
Quotes to Inspire you to Get Outside with Kids
“As a child, one has that magical capacity to move among the many eras of the earth; to see the land as an animal does; to experience the sky from the perspective of a flower or a bee; to feel the earth quiver and breathe beneath us; to know a hundred different smells of mud and listen unself-consciously to the soughing of the trees.” – Valerie Andrews
“Children are born with a sense of wonder and an affinity for Nature. Properly cultivated, these values can mature into ecological literacy, and eventually into sustainable patterns of living.” – Zenobia Barlow
“Teaching children about the natural world should be seen as one of the most important events in their lives.” – Thomas Berry
“To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, An eternity in an hour.” – William Blake
“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.” – Rachel Carson
“By suggestion and example, I believe children can be helped to hear the many voices about them. Take Time to listen and talk about the voices of the earth and what they mean—the majestic voice of thunder, the winds, the sound of surf or flowing streams.” – Rachel Carson
“Children learn best through their everyday experiences with the people they love and trust, and when the learning is fun. And the best place for these experiences is outdoors, in the natural world.” – Center for Families, Communities, Schools and Children’s Learning
“Along with milk and vegetables, kids need a steady diet of rocks and worms Rocks need skipping. Holes need digging. Water needs splashing. Bugs and frogs and slimy stuff need finding” – Advertisement: Go RVing (Sometimes it’s the ads that have the best sayings, isn’t it?)
“There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks. Most of the time we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough, to pay attention to the story.” – Linda Hogan
“Children have a natural affinity towards nature. Dirt, water, plants, and small animals attract and hold children’s attention for hours, days, even a lifetime.” – Robin C. Moore and Herb H. Wong
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you… while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” – John Muir
“Let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life.” – John Muir
“What do parents owe their young that is more important than a warm and trusting connection to the Earth…? ” – Theodore Roszak
“I sincerely believe that for the child, and for the parent seeking to guide him, it is not half so important to know as to feel when introducing a young child to the natural world. If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and the impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow. The years of early childhood are the time to prepare the soil.” – Rachel Carson
“Without continuous hands-on experience, it is impossible for children to acquire a deep intuitive understanding of the natural world that is the foundation of sustainable development. ….A critical aspect of the present-day crisis in education is that children are becoming separated from daily experience of the natural world, especially in larger cities.” -Natural Learning, Creating Environments for Rediscovering Nature’s Way of Teaching, Robin C. Moore and Herb H. Wong
“If we want children to flourish, to become truly empowered, then let us allow them to love the earth before we ask them to save it. Perhaps this is what Thoreau had in mind when he said, “the more slowly trees grow at first, the sounder they are at the core, and I think the same is true of human beings.” – David Sobel, Beyond Ecophobia
How do you feel about children spending time in the natural world? If you enjoyed this article, you can sign up for my newsletter here, and if you’d like to see more photos from our enjoyment of nature, follow me on Instagram.