As natural parents we want to make sure our kids are not disconnected from the natural world. While they can certainly learn things from video games and television, I feel those things can also be very damaging for them emotionally when that is their main “view” if the world around them. When your children are looking for something to do… think beyond the electronic baby sitters. Take a nature walk with them. Studies have shown nature walks improve your child’s emotional well being.
Nature Walks Help Children Concentrate
Take a walk outside and you’ll notice a few things. You’ll notice you almost immediately feel calmer and more relaxed. You’ll notice your mind may stop jumping from thought to thought. Instead, of thinking about that project that needs to be done or that bill you have to pay, you’ll notice the squirell running through the grass or the birds chirping in the tree above you. You’ll notice the colors of the leaves on the trees and feel the sunshine on your shoulders. You’ll hear the wind and feel it touch you. In short, your mind clears and you begin to focus on the present moment.
The same thing happens for children. If your children are older then chances are they’re living extraordinarily busy lives. Nature walks will help them concentrate and focus on the present. In fact studies have shown that nature walks for children with attention deficit issues were just as effective if not more so than medication to improve their concentration.
Nature Walks Build Confidence
Nature walks tend to generate curiosity and a sense of exploration in children. They wonder what that funny orange moss was or why the snake was lying on that rock in the sun. This sense of wonder and curiosity helps them feel a part of something bigger than themselves. It’s almost magical to watch children come out of their shells on a nature walk. Their shoulders straighten, their eyes light up and confidence and curiosity beam from them. They know that the world is wide open for discovery…
Nature Walks Boost Emotions
Many forms of therapy use Nature to treat depression, trauma, and to boost mood. This is because nature is a proven method to boost mood and reduce aggression in children. Scientists haven’t pinpointed the exact reasons why this occurs. Some theorize that sunlight has a chemical effect on mood. We do know that people suffer from SAD, seasonal affective disorder, which occurs during the long months of winter when people don’t receive enough sunlight.
Other’s have studied the effects of greenery on children and have found that children with more nature in their schools, more greenery, get better grades, have fewer behavior problems, and generally perform better in school.
If you’re new to nature walks, start small and local. Choose trails or parks nearby and let your family gradually build up to longer walks. Get your children interested by pointing out interesting features and encourage them to show you what interests them.
Many physicians and counselors actually prescribe “nature walk therapy” for their patients who are suffering from stress and anxiety issues, who have high blood pressure, depression or other mood related concerns or who need to improve their attention span.
In addition to helping children focus, giving them more self-confidence and boosting their mood, taking a nature walk with your children helps foster the bond between you and your children. It creates fond memories, lets your child know that you enjoy quiet time with them in nature and gives them an overall appreciation for life.
Thanks a bunch to Pepper Paints for tipping us off to this Ohio gem that is only a 20 minute freeway jaunt away from us. It is FABULOUS!!!
I felt really bad that I hadn’t had the time to take the kids for weekend away to the Hocking Hills area to see some of the great waterfalls there. When we left Arizona I thought we left behind all the best swimming holes and canyon waterfalls but I guess not. Who knew there was a very nice waterfall with full public access only a few minutes away??? My oldest son and husband were also elated to see that access to the river is easy there. They have a fishing trip planned already.
It all starts with a not-so very long hike through the low river bed or the very muddy trail. I have a feeling that in the spring this area would be almost impenetrable unless you want to swim. Well, actually it starts with going down a ton of steps that take you into the canyon and then you trek up river.
After a short walk we come to the soft roar of the beautiful falls. Unbelievably this gem is actually in the city.
This was the last picture I took. Can you guess why?
Oh yes… we had an incident. Daddy climbed up pretty high and dear daughter thought she could go after him. Halfway up she decided against it and as the incline propelled her downward rather fast she decided to go with it and RUN down. She slid on her stomach and side for while and scraped herself up pretty bad. And whether her injury is a splinter or a severed limb I am pretty sure her screaming and theatrics would be the same. She screamed like no body’s business. Since I wasn’t about to wash her off in the bacteria laced river water we called it a day. I never dreamed we might need our day packs for such a teeny hike but next time I will know better. The kids can’t wait to go back.
This is a guest post by Esther of Hawkins Health
I’ll never forget the first time I went out to eat for breakfast in America. I was still in the ‘wow’ phase of my introduction to American life which I have to say is vastly different from my life in England. I was with a group of friends ordering from Shonies and the waitress asked my how I’d like my eggs. I thought for a moment and told her that I’d like them fried. She looked bewildered and as my friends cracked up laughing around me, I tried to figure out what I had said that was so utterly hilarious. She then proceeded to use words like, ‘sunny side up’ and ‘over easy’, none of which meant anything to me.
Ten years later, and with a little more understanding of American culture, I am now aware that here, more than anywhere else I have traveled, we are bombarded with a multitude of choices that still make my head spin.
While it can be wonderful to have the freedom and ability to make our own choices, in some ways it can just become overwhelming and confusing. Take for instance the never ending commercials for weight loss products. If you try one diet and it doesn’t work, don’t worry because there are probably another 6000 you can try.
I sometimes wonder when we decided that more is better. With two small children I have found that more just means; more to clean, more to fold, more to pick up, more to fix, more to manage. In an effort over the last year to simplify my life I’ve found the time to enjoy relationships, to focus on doing what I love, and to live more fluidly rather than being controlled by a schedule. The freedom I have found is not in the ability to manage my choices, but in eliminating some of them, so that my life fits into my core values.
One of the key areas that I believe many of us have missed the beauty of simplicity is in the area of our health. Our cells are so incredibly intelligent that no amount of research, technology or money can match our body’s own ability to take care of itself. When our bodies are in balance and have all the nutrients needed, we’ll find ourselves in perfect health and at our perfect weight.
The pH of our bodily fluids is the key to understanding how healthy or unhealthy we are. pH balancing is a measure of acidity and alkalinity. Everything can be measured on the pH scale with 1 being the most acidic, 14 being the most alkaline and 7, in the middle, is neutral.
Disease and inflammation can only exist in an acidic body. This is absolutely vital for us to understand. It doesn’t matter how many generations that have gone before you have had cancer or some other life threatening disease. If your body is in balance, that disease cannot exist in your body. The reason that so many people are suffering in this country with debilitating and life threatening diseases is that our bodies are so acidic.
Surely in America we should be eradicating disease. We should be boasting the best health in the world, but despite the billions of dollars that go into medical research, technology and hospitals each year, the health of this nation is in massive decline.
The reason is this. The acid-alkaline balance of our body is dependent on two primary factors; stress and nutrition, and here in America we are terrible at both! Stress has an incredibly acidic effect on our bodies, creating an environment that invites sickness and disease. Also, the food we eat has either an acidic, neutral or alkaline effect on our bodies. When the bulk of our food has an acidic effect, the repercussions can be devastating.
The most acid forming foods and substances include; meat, dairy, sugar, most grains, most nuts, junk food, processed food, soda, coffee, tobacco, alcohol, chemical additives, preservatives, drugs and medications, synthetic vitamins.
Cooking our foods also makes them more acidic. Unfortunately, the Standard American Diet (SAD) is ridiculously high in extremely acid forming foods. The ideal diet would be 80% raw or lightly steamed vegetables and fruits, and 20% acid forming foods. Just take a look at your plate over the next week and see how close you get to these percentages. We do need some acid forming foods but just not in the quantities that most people consume them.
Once your body is in balance, symptoms of pain, sickness and depression can start to be naturally alleviated. Chasing symptoms doesn’t address the underlying cause. pH balancing gets to the root of the problem. It really is as simple as that!
*** Esther Hawkins is a Naturopathic Doctor and stay-at-home Mom to two young children. She teaches natural health classes and blogs about natural health as well as her life as a Mom. She says, “I love to write, I love talking about natural health and I love being at home with my kids. I blog so I can do everything I love at the same time.” For more about Esther, or to learn about natural health, visit her blog at www.hawkinshealth.com
As people begin to be more environmentally and economically conscious or perhaps just more conscious of the amount of garbage they generate, composting becomes popular. However, for many it’s still a new concept and it seems kind of mysterious. If you’re interested in learning more about it, here are a few composting basics to get you started. It really is very easy.
So What is Composting Exactly?
Composting is essentially decomposing. The leaves that collect in the corner of your yard decompose. The grass clippings that fall on your lawn decompose. It is actually a HUGELY inportant process. If you facilitate this process, then it’s called composting. It basically involves mixing your yard and household organic waste, like food scraps, in a container and providing conditions that encourage or facilitate the decomposition process.
Why Should YOU Compost?
Composting is a very environmentally friendly practice. It reduces the amount of garbage we toss into landfills by 20-30% and as we get closer and closer to running out of space, composting becomes more and more important.
In addition to making space in the landfills, composting provides you with a source of chemical free fertilizer, which you can use for gardening and soil conditioner. If you garden and grow your own food then you want nutrient rich compost and making it yourself is cost effective.
Materials to Get Started Composting
To begin composting you’ll need a few things to get started. You can find many of these items at your local hardware or gardening store. You can also buy home composting kits only. These kits come with everything you need and provide a relatively “stink free” composting experience.
You’ll likely need a compost bin. The materials will be decomposing here so if you’re keeping the compost in your home, you’ll want a lid as well. I have a small 5 pound bucket I use for kitchen crap collection and it will start to get smelly after 3-4 days so I take it outside to our main composting place. At our previous home we had a HUGE 10×20 compost bin made from lattice. It was actually a bit too big IMO but we had several acres of leaves and grass clippings. We still ended up taking a couple truck loads of leaves to the local compost yard each Fall.
Now we have no bin whatsoever, just a big pile in the backyard, behind the garage. It was there when we moved in and it seems to work just fine. It is not the most attractive thing but it isn’t where anyone, including neighbors, have to look at it.
You’ll also need a pitchfork to turn and mix the compost regularly.
But what about the actual compost? Can you toss anything in there? Are there right and wrong ingredients? The answer is yes, the ideal compost recipe includes:
* Greens – include grass clippings, kitchen scraps including eggshells and coffee grounds. (Avoid using any meat, fat, grease, oils, dairy products, bones, or animal droppings in your compost.)
* Browns – include dried leaves, straw, wood chips, paper bags and drier lint.
* Water – Keep the pile moist but not soaking
* And time
If you have two much brown stuff it will take a lot longer to compost. That is why we often hauled some leaves away because it threw our mixture way off balance and the compost would come close to “cooking” like it should.
We allow our compost to sit for 6 months or more and we end up with dark, rich compost that our garden loves. So when doing yard waste cleanup this summer and fall, it may be a great time to try your hand at composting.
Photography is an addiction, I swear it is. I bring my Nikon DSLR and my lens bag everywhere and I am always on the lookout for cool shots. Here are a couple recent ones. And of course my favorite subject is my kids.