This week there was some great discussion over on our Facebook Page over an article stating just how much good the outdoors does for our kids, with an emphasis on how much they suffer if they don’t get outside.
“If children are not given enough natural movement and play experiences, they start their academic careers with a disadvantage. They are more likely to be clumsy, have difficulty paying attention, trouble controlling their emotions, utilize poor problem-solving methods, and demonstrate difficulties with social interactions. We are consistently seeing sensory, motor, and cognitive issues pop up more and more in later childhood, partly because of inadequate opportunities to move and play at an early age.”
While my intention is never, ever to shame others that don’t get outside “enough”, a few brave spoke up and voiced that was exactly how the article could be taken.
I have been pondering that conversation all week, and didn’t want to miss an opportunity to pat YOU on the back for all you are doing.
To be perfectly frank, I’m in a rough spot here. What YOU see is a family getting outside constantly with gorgeous views and smiling kids. I do my best to show the whining, the laziness, the real-life-struggle that is there as ANY parent, but I know it’s easily missed. What we are isn’t just a family that goes outside all the time. There’s so much more to the story.
And oh how I hate social media sometimes. It’s such an avenue to be inspired and to help each other grow and be the best versions of ourselves. But, it’s also so easy to be inundated with so many different lives that we struggle to find our place….and to clarify what is NOT us. We all can’t be everything for everyone. It’s just.not.possible.
Yes, I truly believe outdoor time makes a really, really big difference for people of all ages. I focus on the kids because they are the future (as cliche as that sounds!)
But, I also recognize that outdoor time is a really, really stressful thing for other people (heck, even the “average crowd” out there, ourselves included!) It requires getting out of our comfort zone, being beyond the environment we can control, and sometimes simply a lot of brute force. If you’ve wrestled kids into snowsuits, you know exactly what I mean.
While I do believe that some kids suffer (yes, suffer) from a sedentary, screen-based, upbringing that greatly affects them later in life, the outdoors is NOT a cure-all.
There are plenty of kids that are literally outside daily from birth that still have sensory, motor, and cognitive issues. Some of my very dearest friends (who LOVE the outdoors more than I do, truly) deal with this every.single.day. And “just get them outside” doesn’t hold much merit because of the struggle.
I know it doesn’t HURT the child, but it doesn’t mean all those issues are gone. In fact, they are intensified in the outdoors and require an exorbitant amount of patience. It would be so much easier to let those kids stay in their comfort zone (usually indoors), but they keep on trying anyway.
We always joke that our kids are going to either love the outdoors or hate it. Our goal is obviously the former, but there is no guarantees in parenting. At all.
Every kid is different. It’s our job to learn how to love them best.
Some kids can’t handle being “walled-in” inside; others simply cannot handle the feel of mittens.
Some kids need an hour outside to breathe, others need just a few moments…and still others would happily never set foot inside a building.
Some kids are stressed by “sit-down jobs”; others are stressed by a changing environment.
Some kids hate being hot; some kids hate being cold.
Some kids literally can’t breathe or break out in a rash outside; Some are allergic to dust inside.
And you can substitute “kid” for “person”….because this goes so far beyond just dealing with kids. We, ourselves, have the same struggles.
Despite some amazing, life-changing benefits, the outdoors is NOT a Cure-All. Even the best of us have days when we just want to cozy up on the couch with a good book.
So, take heart, all parents. Know that you’re doing a great job. Your kids don’t fit into a perfect package, and neither do you.
Keep on getting out there, trying new things, challenging your family (because that promotes growth) and LOVING. Because that is more important than anything else you could possibly do.
**Also, head over to The Kid Project and check out their post, “Dear Parent, Do you Feel Like a Fraud”. It’s fantastic and I couldn’t have said it better myself…..
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