When I started this blog six and a half years ago, I had a 2 year old and a newborn. Life was so much simpler then, and yet I remember it being so much more stressful. Being a new mom is so hard. Time and more kids have certainly changed me.
My goal then was to get my boys outside for at least 15 minutes a day, and somehow it seemed like enough. It was my mantra, in life and here, on the blog: Go outside at least 15 minutes a day.
Looking back, I am not really sure what I was thinking. While babies maybe don’t necessarily NEED more than 15 minutes while they are bundled up and tucked in anyway, I don’t know how I even survived on that. Maybe that’s why I was so stressed.
Now with 5 kids in various stages and life situations, I find myself struggling to find the balance so many parents do to fit in the things that matter. I have to be intentional about our time outside, especially in colder/wetter/muddier weather.
While it is far better than many schools out there (and shame on them!), my boys get only one recess a day. Granted, it is about 45 minutes and allows time for getting on winter gear, ice skating, sledding and letting their brains reset in the fresh air. They also walk to and from the bus stop (about a mile total) and play outside for 30-90 minutes after school. On the days that doesn’t happen due to scheduling conflicts or just plain laziness, the evening seems to fall apart much more rapidly and dramatically. Maybe it’s them, maybe it’s me, but it’s never good.
Research shows again and again the you-need-time-outside-daily rule applies to all of us, no exceptions. Benefits include the following:
- Rejuvenated physical energy
- Faster physical recovery
- Reduced anxiety
- Reduced muscle tension
- Decreased stress hormones
- Heightened immunity
- Lower heart rate
- Decreased blood pressure
- Better cholesterol
- A kinder and more generous disposition.
Did you catch that last one? Going outside makes you NICER. And good golly, we sure could use more people who are thinking of more than themselves these days, couldn’t we?!
So, how much time a day should we aim for? The answer: As much as possible. Really.
But, galavanting through the woods and up the mountains on a daily basis isn’t realistic for most of us, even if we wish it was.
Mom/Parent guilt is a real struggle and this is NOT a post to try and make that even worse for you. I feel it just as much as you do, and that is never, ever my intention. This blog is more often than not a pile of reminders for myself because I struggle too.
So, we squeeze it in when we can. A walk in the morning, a walk at lunch, a bike ride or some exploration in the evening before/after dinner. Ten minute chunks go a long way, but extended periods are even better. We make it work. The key is not falling victim to excuses about why not.
A good goal is 60 minutes of active, outdoor time a day. Are we always going to nail it? Nope. But, we can try.
We want to know! How do you make it work? What struggles do you have with fitting it in? Do you see a difference in your kids and in you when you go outside more or less, or not?? Join the conversation with us here in the comments and on Facebook.
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