Yesterday I read the latest post from one of my favourite blogs, Famiglia&Seoul. If you’re not already familiar with Famiglia&Seoul, pop on over and check it out. Gina has set herself a challenge of getting outdoors for at least 15 minutes every single day, for 365 days. I think I’m entranced by this so much because I’m not naturally an outdoors kind of girl. Don’t get me wrong, I do love nature, but I just don’t naturally gravitate outside. I am consciously trying to make more of an effort in that regard, both for my benefit and for R’s as well. For our health, our creativity, and to help us better connect as a family. When I read Gina’s post, celebrating her 30 day anniversary of getting outdoors, I was completely inspired. The entire post is beautiful, but something in particular that she said really struck a chord with me. Gina mentioned that when she’s outside with her (utterly adorable) son, she is present in the moment, and the usual day to day distractions are fogotten, at least for a while. Being present in the moment, being fully present, is my greatest aim, and equally my greatest challenge, as a mother. There is always so much else to think about – what will I be making for dinner tonight, the load of washing has just finished, the beds aren’t made yet, did I call the doctor to change that appointment, I think those library books were due back yesterday…. and so it goes.
So when I read that getting outdoors for a while might help to switch off all that other “stuff”, I immediately suggested to R that we take a walk down to the creek near our home. He jumped at the chance to get out and about. So where did we go? Well, despite living in the middle of suburbia, we have this on our doorstep…..
Pretty special, isn’t it? We’re so lucky. This is right in the middle of two suburban streets. A magical little spot we can head to on the spur of the moment and just enjoy the calm and the wonder of it all. When R was a newborn, and I was at home alone with no car to get out and about, I would bring him to this spot every day. It was the best time of our day. Then I stopped going. Mr. Perfect Day often takes R for a walk to the creek but I usually opt out these days, seeing it as a chance for some alone time to catch up on housework, paperwork, or ironing. Say what?? I choose housework over this? Priorities need to change here!
So R and I headed out for our walk yesterday and we really took our time. I attached some adhesive tape around R’s wrist so he could create a nature bracelet (See this post from Kid World Citizen to see what I mean). He was so into the idea that we actually took about 15 minutes just to walk down our driveway as he picked up twigs and leaves and grass to add to his bracelet.
As we took our time, walking at R’s pace, stopping whenever he wanted – to look, to touch, to ask questions – R turned to me and said “Mummy, I really love how you walk with me to the creek.” It was probably the most beautiful thing he has said to me in a while, and yet it hit me with pangs of guilt. The fact is, I don’t walk with him to the creek. Not usually. He was telling me what he needed and wanted from me and finally I’d slowed down long enough to listen.
R seemed to be responding to my lead of taking it slow. He is usually keen to just reach the footbridge that crosses the creek so that he can throw leaves and branches into the water. That is his goal, and he doesn’t stop for much else. Yesterday however, it was R who said “I want to stop and sit here” and so we did. We sat on the grass, listening to the water running over the rocks, and the wind rustling through the leaves. We sat quietly for a long time and when I suggested that we move on to the footbridge R responded with “No, I want to sit here a bit longer”, and so we did.
When R was ready to move on, we meanered along slowly. There was lots to see and explore. We stopped to gather twigs for throwing into the water….
Several trees were weeping and I explained to R about tree sap, what it is, what it does, and how it is thick and sticky…
He inspected the peeling bark on another tree……
As we neared the creek bed, he stopped to feel the soft moss growing on the rocks…..
Then we discovered a Bower Bird nest. Male Bower Birds collect blue items to attract a mate. Blue pegs, bottle tops, drinking straws, anything blue. It was a pretty wonderful find.
We spent a long time throwing pebbles into the water, listening to the big “sploosh” sounds and watching the ripples in the water…
When we reached the footbridge, R threw the twigs he’d collected off the edge, watching them as they travelled down the creek.
R wanted to sit again, just watching and listening. As we sat together, with R on my lap, our feet hanging over the edge of the bridge, we stretched out our limbs together, and marvelled at how long his arms and legs have grown and how they are almost as long as mine already.
We sat for a very long time. We must have been gone for at least an hour, if not longer, when R decided he was ready to head home. It was a beatiful morning, a slow morning, and it set the tone for the rest of the day in a most wonderful way. Our day was more productive, more joyful, more play-filled.
Oh, and this is how his nature bracelet turned out.
What’s your favourite way to enjoy the outdoors?
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