We all know that getting outside is good for us and our families. But just how good?
Perhaps, like me, some of your fondest childhood memories are set in the great outdoors.
When I think back to the ‘golden days’ of my childhood, I remember the days spent roaming fields, climbing trees and splashing in muddy puddles.
There was no joy like cackling as my dad zipped me across the garden in the wheelbarrow, scattering squawking chickens as we went.
I treasure the memories of collecting elderflowers with my Mum and Grandma, singing as we went (to placate Mother Elder) and playing in the woods with my Grandads spaniels whilst he attended to his bee-hives.
My Brother and I still laugh about the day we spent splashing in too-deep puddles and giggled uncontrollably as my mum poured the murky water out of his wellies like a teapot.
But what if I told you that these formative experiences weren’t just barrels of fun. What if I told you that they made me smarter, healthier, more creative and more confident- all whilst bringing me closer to my family?
To celebrate the door to our Wild Garlic Festival opening, we’ve decided to explore 9 of our favourite truths about the benefits of getting the kids out in nature. We hope you’re as blown away as we are!
1. Freedom for Kids to be Kids
The beauty of outdoor play is that it gives children the freedom to be children. With nature as their toys their imagination really has free roam!
The unstructured environment allows kids to explore and express themselves. A stick can become a sword, a magic wand, a friend… the opportunities are limitless! In nature, children have the space to create their own world, all the while boosting their creativity and developing their brains.
The abundance of sensory input provides a rich tapestry of inspiration for kids to build from. For babies, exposure to the abundance of sounds, sight and smells are crucial for their cognitive development- the building blocks of creativity in years to come.
2. It Makes Bedtimes Easier!
Too much time spent sitting still while online gaming and watching TV has had a real impact on the physical health of our youngest generations. We do love a film night and getting cosy together, but the greatest adventures happen in the great outdoors!
Climbing trees, walking, running and playing games are great ways to get your child excited about moving their body and keeping fit. Not only this, it tires them out so bedtime is so much easier!
In the early years, it also supports their physical learning and development- young children who spend more time outdoors have better motor fitness, such as balance and coordination. I wonder if they’ve tested this with our Olympic gymnasts!
While they might not want to ditch the screens for a blustery wander (I know I never did!), they’ll forget all about Roblox once they’re playing pirates in the local stream.
3. A Muddy Child is a Healthy One
Seeing your child covered in dirt and mud might feel like a nightmare- especially when they come tearing through and leave muddy footprints on the carpet! Following the pandemic, we’re more anxious about health than ever- kids have never washed their hands more!
Simple activities such as identifying trees and plants can provide a real boost, and are easily accessible to those in the country and the city.
So if you’re looking to inspire your child's confidence, boost their self-esteem and make them feel like a superhero, heading outside is the way to go. Anyone who’s met Xanthe will know this to be true!
6. Time Outdoors Makes Your Little Ones Smarter
Sometimes it’s hard to stay focussed in school- we’ve all been there.
Whether you’re little one’s a daydreamer, a class clown or struggles with ADHD, there can seem like a million better things to be thinking about when the teacher is trying to explain why x+8=y.
So get outside and celebrate your child's curiosity for the natural world!
7. Children are the next Sustainability Superheros
In the immortal words of Whitney Houston: ‘children are our future’.
She had it right- children are the future carers for our planet.
We want to show them how much fun there is to be had on this planet and to give them the skills and understanding to protect it. Spending time connecting with nature teaches our children, (and reminds us) just how important the natural world really is.
8. Nature Helps Families Connect
75% of the time you’ll spend with your child over their lifetime will occur before they reach 12. We all know how quickly those years fly by.
Trying to juggle life can be hard. From struggling over screen time to an overwhelming to-do list, it always feels like there’s something pulling us away from that all-important family time. We all feel that parental guilt sometimes, and think it’s just us.
So if you’re struggling to connect with the kids, or want to make the most of the time you have to spend together, getting outdoors could well be the best answer. Remember- you don’t have to bring the kitchen sink! Follow their lead and step into the magical world their imagination creates.
9. It’s Good for Parents Too!
We talk a lot about helping children engage with the world around them. What we sometimes talk about less is how it can help you as a parent.
Being able to connect with nature through a child's eyes is an almost incomparable joy. We are reminded by their wonder and excitement for things we might otherwise overlook. Through teaching our little ones about the world around us, we rediscover a sense of awe for the natural world.
This March, we’re hosting our annual Wild Garlic Festival: a spring celebration of Foraging, Family and Food.
Transport yourself back to childhood and rediscover a childlike wonder for the natural world. Ignite your family's curiosity with expert-led foraging adventures, celebrate your child's imagination with wild woodland adventures and come together as a family to make magical memories that will last a lifetime.