Recently I read an article about the joys of taking your toddler camping and it took me back to the days when my adult children were little. The memories of those excursions are very precious and the results, as shown in the way they are raising their own children and living their lives, are evidence of the value.
Soon after reading the article, I was visiting with a young Sisters’ mom who had just taken her 18 month old on her first camping trip. Unfortunately, it was not a lot of fun. In fact, they cut their outing short and came home.
How sad! That thought left me with the need to change her mind and convince her to try again.
Camping with a toddler is definitely a different experience than camping without and that is probably the first thing to recognize. Your attention needs to be focused on them instead of your own agenda. Being prepared for possible problems will make a big difference.
Toddlers are going to get filthy, no question about it; relax, let it happen. There are even some studies that indicate that children who eat dirt will develop immune systems that may resist allergies and other problems later on.
Whether at home or in a campground you have to keep an eye on your toddler. That’s a given. While camping, picking up sticks and running with them is always a danger or the possibility of falling into the fire will keep you on your guard. These are different challenges than in your backyard, however, the job of monitoring your toddler’s actions is the same.
An idea that came from the article on keeping little ones warm and cozy at night is pretty ingenious. Instead of worrying about how to keep them in a sleeping bag, put them to bed in their snowsuit! Now they can squirm and wiggle to their hearts content and wake-up rested and cheerful. No more worrisome nights for mom and dad who also get to sleep through the night.
If the dark of night is a problem, hang small battery operated lights in the tent and voila it’s a magical place.
Tents can double as wonderful places to play since most young ones love small areas to climb into, onto and around. Use sleeping bags and air mats to create exciting hiding places. Take along favorite toys and turn your home away from home into a fort with all kinds of special surprises. A little planning ahead will make a big difference. And, tents create wonderful story time locations.
Why is it important to take your kids outdoors? Why on earth would you want to put yourself through the hard work of making it happen? There are lots of reasons, one of them being perspective.
Since a toddler’s gaze is usually on their immediate surroundings they will naturally be attracted to the things nearer to the ground and under their feet. This causes you to also pay more attention to things that crawl, slither, borough and glide along the earth or water. When was the last time you spent ten minutes examining the antics of a colony of ants? What industrious critters they are with lessons to teach about persistence. Explore and discover with your children and your life will be enriched.
A book every parent would be wise to read is “Last Child in the Woods,” by Richard Louv, who coined the phrase “nature-deficit disorder.” This is his way of describing the increasing urbanization of America and the decreasing time children spend in unstructured play.
This book describes in detail scientific studies linking time in nature to a host of emotional and physical benefits including higher self-esteem, stress reduction, better social interactions and prevention of childhood depression. Children who spend time in natural places with lots of free time increase their inventiveness and creativity. Imagination blooms with increased exposure to unstructured elements. The future of our kids and of society depends on the development of these qualities. These are characteristics needed in our next generation of leaders and citizens.
Closer to home, there are few better ways to help your children become inquisitive and prepared to learn in school. The younger you begin, the more opportunity there is for this to happen. And, living here in Sisters, we’ve a wonderful, natural “school” at our fingertips.
As summer winds down, take advantage of wonderful places near where you live and, whether your kids are toddlers or older, enjoy it with them.
(This article was inspired by the writing of Seattle-based freelancer Jeff Layton who writes about outdoor adventures and overseas travels on his blog, MarriedToAdventure.com.)
2015 Living Now Book Awards 9/1/2015 Today is an exciting day. I just received word that I had been awarded a Gold Award in the Family/Parent division of the 2015 Living Now Book Awards. I'm all smiles. I couldn't have asked for a nicer surprise. The Living Now Book Award web page describes this award as follows:
"The Living Now Book Awards are designed to honor those kinds of life-changing books that make a difference, and to bring increased recognition to the year’s best lifestyle, homestyle, world-improvement and self-improvement books and their creators. We all seek healthier, more fulfilling lives for ourselves and for the planet, and books are very important tools for gaining knowledge about how to achieve these goals for ourselves, our loved ones, and for Planet Earth.
The purpose of the Living Now Book Awards is to celebrate the innovation and creativity of books that enhance the quality of life, from cooking and gardening to spirituality and wellness. The awards are open to all books written in English and appropriate for the North American market. Winning a Living Now Book Award brings credibility and recognition for the recipients."