Parenting Thursday: How to Relax while Being Creative with your Child: Nature Walks

 

Creativity in parenting is a valuable tool. You can use it in many ways, from storytelling to arts and crafts. Only your imagination is the limit, really. Being creative with your child is an excellent opportunity to bond with them, inspire their creative endeavours, and… relax! The latter may sound surprising, but resting while having fun with your offspring is possible!

In this series of blog posts, I will write about various ways you can relax and be creative with your children.

This week we will look at nature walks.

Family Adventure at the seaside

Taking your children out into a park, forest, field, seaside, lakeside or mountains – whatever spot of nature is accessible for you- is a great bonding time with you. But it also has various tremendous benefits that will serve you and your child. Here are some of them:

Being outdoors brings much-needed relaxation and downtime: it reduces stress, boosts our immune system, and helps us sleep better. It gives us time to be present and connect with nature, ourselves, and others – a little break from the screens, rush, and worries. Moreover, it gives children space to run their energy off, build their fine and gross motor skills, explore the world around them and learn about boundaries and safety.   

Nature is also an incredible inspiration for the imagination. The pictures, stories, and poems are hidden among the branches, stones, or grasses. Looking closely, we can see tree spirit faces in tree trunks, log dragons sleeping in the grass, dandelion fairies flying using fluffy umbrellas, mud monsters trying to eat our shoes or sea sprites splashing in the waves. 

If you are not sure how to open your imagination to see those creative gems on your walks, here are some valuable tips for you and your child to follow:

🌳 Stop and look at the landscape around you. Take it all in. 

🌳 Close your eyes for a moment and breath deeply. Open your eyes. 

🌳 Look for shapes in the trees, stones, clouds, waves, waterfalls, caves, flowers, etc. What do they look like? What do they resemble?

🌳 What/who are they? For example, a bluebell looks like a fairy wearing a blue dress, a stone looks like a grumpy troll or a crack in the stream bank looks like an entrance to a house.

🌳 Why are they there?

🌳 What are they doing?

🌳 What are their powers? Jobs? Likes and dislikes? 

🌳 How can you and your child interact with them? For example: jump over the waves sent by the sea sprites, have a leaf party with a tree elf, or sing a grumpy troll a lullaby. 

🌳 Ask your child the above questions. Listen to them. Follow their lead. 

🌳 Don’t be afraid to be silly.

🌳 Laugh. 

🌳 When you return home, invite a child to write/draw a story you made together or do some arts and crafts from things you found during your exploits. 

I cannot stress enough how beneficial it is to explore the outdoors creatively! When my family and I go for walks, I narrate our adventures and ask my husband and son the above questions to inspire the little one’s curiosity, build his vocabulary and bond as a family.

My son is only two years old but is already hooked on using his imagination. He checks with me if fairies are in the tree trunks or spots log dragons sleeping in the grass. To my greatest joy, he initiates imaginative play, too. The other day, during our walk in the nearby park, he picked up a leaf and held it as an umbrella over his head and said: “deszcz” (Polish for rain). 

E.using his imagination to make a leaf umbrella

He also knows the words “sea”, “beach”, “moss”, “mud”, and “bluebell” and points them out whenever he sees them. Learning is so much more meaningful when taken outside. 

I also can see a difference in his behaviour on the days when we don’t go out. He is more restless and boisterous. That is why I try to keep our walks as a daily practice, as they generate so many positive emotions:

  • Excitement: sometimes, he cannot wait to go out, so he brings his shoes and coat and says, “Go, go!” No matter the weather! When we leave the house, he grins and says, “Yay!” 
  • Happiness: he has the biggest smile when he runs around the field, splashes in puddles, or paddles in the sea.Β 
  • Calmness: after running his energy off, he makes better choices and sleeps better. 
  • Love: he spends quality time with his Mummy and Daddy without distractions.

It also works for Mummy and Daddy. We are more relaxed, nourished, and inspired, so it is easier to handle the hardships of parenthood and make better choices. We laugh and smile more. It does not magically erase all the problems or make us flawless parents, but it helps to refocus, recharge and refill the happiness bucket when things are hard.