Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Get Out!

Outside, that is.

Welcome to the May Carnival of Natural Parenting: Growing in the Outdoors

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared how they encourage their children to connect with nature and dig in the dirt. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


I would love to grow some of my own vegetables. I got very interested in container / square foot gardening last year. I checked out some books on it and did lots of online research. I figured I could do container / square foot gardening in our apartment. Then if/when we moved, we could just take the garden with us! This was about the same time that I was looking into living on the road... the one outcome that makes taking a garden with us an impossibility. Also, as the season was upon us, I realized we get NO sun at our apartment. We've even moved across the courtyard and we STILL get no sun!

We do not get outside as often as I feel Sasha should. I have the best of intentions, I really do. I even work less hours now. My older daughter often asks to go outside (and does). Sasha isn't old enough to go out without me. Once I get home and settle into the house... I tend to just stay inside. The fact that I walk in and immediately strip probably exacerbates the issue.

When we DO get outside, I see a major difference in my perspective and patience levels between my last two children. Tyler is now 12yo and when I would take her to the zoo we'd likely be with a homeschool group so we needed to stay together. If we weren't with a group, then I still wanted to take advantage of all the exhibits. Lots to see, lots to see!

This last time that Elmo and I took Sasha (1½yo) to the zoo, we knew we didn't want to stay all day, but we also had no set expectations on what we wanted to see. We took the stroller, but once Sasha was done being in it, she never had to get back into it. She also didn't want to be carried. I let her walk, at her own pace. I thought she would slow us down, but she actually kept up quite well, setting the pace for us.

Walking in the ZooYep, shoeless at the zoo!

Along the way, Sasha stopped a few times to pick up a small stick and poke at the dirt. The younger me would have scooped her up, talking about all the animals there were to see. But you know what? Dirt and sticks are a part of her world to explore, too! I was amazed with my own patience with her as she stopped to do these things or just wanted to climb on a bench!

We still got out of the zoo within a couple of hours. We saw plenty of animals, we played in some dirt, and we left before any of us were exhausted or dehydrated. A definite outdoor success in my book!

Picking Dandelions @ the ParkPicking Dandelions @ the Park
even though I really wanted to watch her play on the playground

I so envy Lauren of Hobo Mama for living within walking distance of the beach and just WALKING! I also admire Darcel of The Mahogany Way for getting her kids into the yard so often and getting so many wonderful photos of them playing in nature! And I also have to mention Charise of I Thought I Knew Mama who always seems to have the most amazing photos of taking their baby into nature for her Wordless Wednesdays!

Why is it that outdoor time always seems to require a special trip somewhere? Do you have trouble making the time for outdoor adventures? How do you get past it?


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Get Out!Momma Jorje gives reasons she doesn't think she gets outside enough and asks for your suggestions on making time for the outdoors.

  • How Does Your Garden Grow?The ArtsyMama shares her love of nature photography.

  • We Go Outside — Amy at Peace 4 Parents describes her family's simple, experiential approach to encouraging appreciation of nature.

  • My Not-So-Green Thumb — Wolfmother confesses to her lack of gardening skills but expresses hope in learning alongside her son at Fabulous Mama Chronicles.

  • Enjoying Outdoors — Isil at Smiling like Sunshine describes how her children enjoy the nature.

  • Five Ideas to Encourage the Reluctant Junior Gardener — For the rare little ones who don't like to get their hands dirty, Dionna at Code Name: Mama offers tips for encouraging an early love of dirt (despite the mess).

  • Connecting to NatureMamapoekie shares how growing your own vegetable patch connects your child to nature and urges them to not take anything for granted.

  • The Farmer's Market Classroom — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction shares how the Farmer's Market has become her son's classroom.

  • Seeds — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment's hubby Ken shares his perspective on why gardening with their kiddos is so important . . . and enjoyable!

  • Toddlers in the Garden — Laura at A Pug in the Kitchen shares her excitement as she continues to introduce her toddler and new baby to the joys of fresh veggies, straight from the garden.

  • Nature's Weave — MJ at Wander Wonder Discover explains how nature weaves its way into our lives naturally, magnetically, experientially, and spiritually.

  • Becoming Green — Kristina at Hey Red celebrates and nurtures her daughter's blossoming love of the outdoors.

  • Little Gardener — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis looks forward to introducing her baby girl to gardening and exploring home grown foods for the first time.

  • Cultivating Abundance — You can never be poor if you have a garden! Lucy at Dreaming Aloud reflects on what she cultivates in her garden . . . and finds it's a lot more than seeds!

  • Growing in the Outdoors: Plants and People — Luschka at Diary of a First Child reflects on how she is growing while teaching her daughter to appreciate nature, the origins of food, and the many benefits of eating home-grown.

  • How Not to Grow — Anna at Wild Parenting discusses why growing vegetables fills her with fear.

  • Growing in the Outdoors — Lily at Witch Mom Blog talks about how connecting to the natural world is a matter of theology for her family and the ways that they do it.

  • A Garden Made of Straw — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares tips on making a straw bale garden.

  • The Tradition of Gardening — Carrie at Love Notes Mama reflects on the gifts that come with the tradition of gardening.

  • Gardening Smells Like Home — Bethy at Bounce Me to the Moon hopes that her son will associate home grown food and lovely flowers with home.

  • The New Normal — Patti at Jazzy Mama writes about how she hopes that growing vegetables in a big city will become totally normal for her children's generation.

  • Outside, With You — Amy at Anktangle writes a letter to her son, a snapshot of a moment in the garden together.

  • Farmer Boy — Abbie at Farmer's Daughter shares how her son Joshua helps to grow and raise their family's food.

  • Growing Kids in the Garden — Lisa at Granola Catholic shares easy ways to get your kids involved in the garden.

  • Growing Food Without a Garden — Don't have a garden? "You can still grow food!" says Mrs Green of Little Green Blog. Whatever the size of your plot, she shows you how.

  • Growing Things — Liz at Garden Variety Mama shares her reasons for gardening with her kids, even though she has no idea what she's doing.

  • MomentsUK Mummy Blogger explains how the great outdoors provides a backdrop for her family to reconnect.

  • Condo Kid Turns Composter and Plastic Police — Jessica from Cloth Diapering Mama has discovered that her young son is a true earth lover despite living in a condo with no land to call their own.

  • Gardening with Baby — Sheila at A Gift Universe shows us how her garden and her son are growing.

  • Why to Choose Your Local Farmer's MarketNaturally Nena shares why she believes it's important to teach our children the value of local farmers.

  • Unfolding into Nature — At Crunchy-Chewy Mama, Jessica Claire shares her desire to cultivate a reverence for nature through gardening, buying local food, and just looking out the window.

  • Urban Gardening With Kids — Lauren at Hobo Mama shares her strategies for city gardening with little helpers — without a yard but with a whole lot of enthusiasm.

  • Mama Doesn't Garden — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life is glad her husband is there to instill the joys of gardening in their children, while all she has to do is sit back and eat homegrown tomato sandwiches.

  • Why We Make this Organic Garden Grow — Brenna at Almost All The Truth shares her reasons for gardening with her three small children.

  • 5 Ways to Help Your Baby Develop a Love of the Natural World — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama believes it's never too early to foster a love of the natural world in your little one.

  • April Showers Bring May PRODUCE — Erika at NaMammaSte discusses her plans for raising a little gardener.

  • Growing Outside — Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante discovers how to get her kids outside after weeks of spring rain.

  • Eating Healthier — Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey talks about how she learns to eat healthier and encourages her children to do the same.

  • The Beauty of Earth and Heavens — Inspired by Charlotte Mason, Erica at ChildOrganics discovers nature in her own front yard.

  • Seeing the Garden Through the Weeds — Amanda at Let's Take the Metro talks about the challenges of gardening with two small children.

  • Creating a Living Playhouse: Our Bean Teepee! — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings shares how her family creates a living playhouse "bean teepee" and includes tips of how to involve kids in gardening projects.

  • Grooming a Tree-Hugger: Introducing the Outdoors — Ana at Pandamoly shares some of her planned strategies for making this spring and summer memorable and productive for her pre-toddler in the Outdoors.

  • Sowing Seeds of Life and Love — Suzannah at ShoutLaughLove celebrates the simple joys of baby chicks, community gardening, and a semi-charmed country life.

  • Experiencing Nature and Growing Plants Outdoors Without a Garden — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares some of her favorite ways her family discovered to fully experience nature wherever they lived.

  • Garden Day — Melissa at The New Mommy Files is thankful to be part of community of families, some of whom can even garden!

  • Teaching Garden Ettiquette to the Locusts — Tashmica from Mother Flippin' (guest posting at Natural Parents Network) allows her children to ravage her garden every year in the hopes of teaching them a greater lesson about how to treat the world.

  • Why I Play with Worms. — Megan of Megadoula, Megamom and Megatired shares why growing a garden and raising her children go hand in hand.


    1. Great post. I feel that sometimes (thanks to aggressive marketing) we think we have to provide some sort of entertainment to our kids. The reality is they make their own entertainment with whatever nature provides. Whether it's a stick, a stone, a leaf; we don't have to be on a beach or the middle of the country to make a walk exciting for our children. I wonder if you could let go of being an adult and get out there with your inner child - let her explore and be fascinated by whatever is going on around you...

    2. Great questions and great post!! Sometimes our days outdoors are just that, just outside the doors. What lures them are butterfly nets, a kiddie pool (when they were younger), bubbles, sprinklers, digging in the dirt to make mudpies...I'm always on the lookout for cheapy things they could use outside too. And many times, the adventure of going somewhere lures us out. I think it'll definitely get easier as your kids get older too. My kids are old enough now that an hour's drive to visit someplace cool isn't much ;).

    3. Your day at the zoo sounds fantastic!

      It was so easy to forget to take my daughter outside when she was smaller, but now that she's a bit older, she won't let me forget! She brings me her shoes and signs outside within minutes of waking up. If that doesn't work, she brings me my shoes, and then she brings me a pair of her dad's! We don't have a yard so we try to take a quick walk in the neighborhood at least once in the morning and once in the afternoon. We also have two weekly outdoor get togethers, so even when I'm bad about outside time at home, those two force us outdoors. It's easy in our mild climate, though!

    4. I have the same problem, at least when it's not warm and sunny outside. I am so cold-blooded, and the winter freeze and spring chills make my bones ache. Once it gets warmer, though, I find that if I bring a blanket, a book, water and a snack out with us, I'm much more inclined to be content hanging out outside with Kieran. And he's more content to be out there if I'm within reach. Maybe you could have an idea jar - that's something I've been toying with lately. Just keep ideas of outside activities in a jar, and have a calendar reminder set every day (or whenever) to pick a slip of paper and do something outside.

    5. Your zoo story made me laugh, because I remember a zoo trip where the animal that most captured Mikko's attention was a squirrel with an apple at the exit. I have to admit — it was a pretty funny squirrel.

      I'm not the best outdoorsy person — I have to force myself to make time for it, and nicer weather definitely helps — for both Mikko and me. If it's too cold out, he now just wants to head straight to the coffee shop for hot chocolate. :) But I think your general attitude of letting your kiddo set the pace and explore the world as she wants to is a great one.

    6. The first time I took my then 2 year oldto the zoo, and she was playing with the stones on the path, rather than lookin around I was a bit dissappointed. But it then it occured to me that everything is interesting for her,notjust the rhinos :)
      I hear you when you say when you want to stay at home after work.Not always easy to go out with the kids, especiallyy after a busy work day.

    7. I always bring a book or something outside with me, because I have to admit I do have a hard time staying out as long as the kiddo would like. Even better is to find a nice spot outdoors you both enjoy -- a playground with a bench, a set of woods -- and go there every day at the same time. You really enjoy the changing seasons that way.

    8. Thank you so much for the shout out <3!

      You're doing a great job, and the better weather will help you get out even more! Love the dandelion pic!

    9. Hello again, Momma. I used to think parenthood was a production, although I didn't realize it at the time. :) That included outdoors, gardening, etc.

      Then I realized the perfect ideal of parenting wasn't helping me. I had to redefine what parenthood meant to me. That resulted in figuring out how to enjoy - or at least make the most of - all moments. Of course, that's a moment-by-moment journey. :)

      I suppose making the outdoors a priority has helped and the kids lead the way. Sometimes we make the trips outside short, others long. I practice appreciation each time, noticing the sounds and the feel of the wind - even the rain and snow at times.

      It hasn't always been easy and there are times the kids want to go out and I do not. Sometimes I stop what I am doing to do that and at other times I encourage them to play in the yard (I live in an area where I feel it is safe to do that as I can hear them and we're very removed from traffic.)

      Enjoy the process of figuring out this aspect of parenting. Mainly, let it be simple and at least somewhat guided by your child's natural curiosity. :)

    10. I am more of an indoor-sy person too, making it an effort for me to go outside and just BE there. My son makes it easy to enjoy walks and the like though, as he points out the most seemingly benign things which to him are wondrous and this expands my mind a little each time. He seems much more interested in the things I take for granted than any 'exotic' experience I am trying to offer him.

    11. I also have to have a purpose when I go somewhere, my husband finds that very annoying

    12. I agree with you. I know I definitely need to get out more. I always love the fresh air once I'm there - it is the getting there part that I hate. I was doing very well during the summer getting out for walks every day and I'm getting back into the swing of things now. It can be hard though after a long day at work to find walking more appealing then the couch at times. But watching Little Man play in the yard or sitting and watching the dogs gives me great pleasure and hopefully gives him good memories as well so that is where I try to draw my motivation from.
      Great post!

    13. I have this trouble, too, with needing to be intentional about getting outside. I think since we don't have a yard (or a place to sit outside or let Daniel crawl around without constant supervision), it's harder to just make that a part of our everyday lives. Making it an event every time is what we do right now, and that's OK, too, I think. =)

    14. I am also an employed mom, and my primary way of having outdoor time with my child has been getting to the places we need to go by walking (sometimes, walking to public transit and then walking from the other stop to our destination) as often as possible. There is a tendency in our modern culture to think you are not "outside" or "in nature" unless you are in a park, zoo, yard, or other space designated for outdoor recreation--but plants grow through cracks in the concrete, water flow patterns can be just as intriguing in the gutter as in the creek, etc.

      My child is growing up in a neighborhood we chose because of its walkability, but I grew up in a more typically American sprawl, and my parents nonetheless walked or biked with us often. The town wasn't set up for pedestrians to access the grocery store, for example, but it was *possible* to walk there, and when we did we often saw some type of interesting plant or animal along the way.

      Here's an article I wrote about noticing nature as you find it: I Didn't Know that was a Forest!


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