There are certain moments of my childhood that I remember with fondness. Most of those times had nothing to do with school and much to do with playing, and especially playing with my father in the outdoors.
For certain time of my childhood my father had to travel a lot as part of his job description, but when he has was home for the weekend he was very intentional to spend time with my siblings and I. He usually took us to the park to play baseball, and some times even to the woods to go camping.
Nature has always captivated me, and when you are able to share this kind of experiences with those who you believe are important to you, then be certain that you will be making the kind of memories that will last for a lifetime.
Nevertheless as a mother and a counselor I have notice that my own children and children in our western culture are more drawn to spend time indoors either watching videos, or playing computer games instead of wanting to be outdoors.
In her article for the web site Greater Good title “How nature can make you kinder, happier, and more creative” Dr. Jill Suttie states that “Scientists are beginning to find evidence that being in nature has a profound impact on our brains and our behavior, helping us to reduce anxiety, brooding, and stress, and increase our attention capacity, creativity, and our ability to connect with other people.”
As a counselor, I have notice that often in our society much of our “family time” is spent in front of a screen and social interactions among the family members tend to be fewer and more sporadic.
On the other hand, I have notice in my personal life that when I make the effort to spend time in the outdoors with my children, they tend to be more active, more verbal kinder and happier. When I compare these moments with the ones they spend in front of the computer online, it seems that they become moodier, more oppositional, and they tend to complain more often.
I don’t know in what part of the world you live, or what type of family interactions you have been having, but if you wish to improve your quality time with your children or spouse I encourage you to find the closer outdoor experience this spring.
In his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” author Stephen R. Covey says “Nature bequeaths its own blessing on those who immerse themselves in it. When you are able to leave the noise and the discord of the city and give yourself up to the harmony and rhythm of nature, you come back renewed”.
I believe this renewal can be apply also to our family life, just yesterday my family and I went to spend time by the river, the sound of the birds near by, and the running water around us brought and inner peace hard to find in the city, and the children became more creative while they play with sticks and stones, representing stories of the Bible we usually read before bed time.
Religious author by the name of Ellen G. White states: “Men in their pride, delight in magnificent and costly edifices and glory in the works of their own hands; but God placed Adam in a garden. This was his dwelling. The blue heavens were its dome; earth with its delicate flowers and carpet of living grass was its floor; and the leafy branches of the goodly tree its canopy. It’s walls were hung with the most magnificent adorning’s – the handiwork of the great Master Artist. In the surroundings of the holy pair was a lesson for all time – that true happiness is found, not in the indulgence of pride and luxury, but in communion with God through His created works.” (Patriarchs and Prophets page 49)
God’s amazing creation has the power to renew our spirit, the power to decrease our stress level and make us more aware of our inner self. Being around nature simply makes us more creative and peaceful. According to recent studies at the University of California Berkley it also makes us “more generous, trusting and helpful towards others”. (Suttie, Jill, “How nature can make you kinder, happier, and more creative”, Greater Good)
I encourage you to spend more time with your family in nature, make the spaces in your busy schedule to make memories that your children will recall with fondness. Perhaps like me, when they grow older and remember those times spent in nature they will go back again and often to the great outdoors to find again our great Master Artist, Creator and God.