Monday Mother- Holly, Outdoor Parent

In the second of our Monday Mother series, the lovely Holly sets us up to enjoy this Autumn with the good vibes that come with some good old fresh air- don’t underestimate the benefits…

Being an Outdoor Parent – the joy of extra oxygen.

A recent survey has discovered that three quarters of children in the UK spend less time outdoors than prison inmates. Whilst at a first glance this statistic seems ridiculous, with increased use of technology, homework, and the great British weather putting people off, it’s easy to forget about the joy and learning potential of the great outdoors, so let me introduce you…

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My name is Holly and I have 3 children- Theo, Rose and our newest addition Baby Matilda. I’ve been a huge fan of natural and outdoor play for around 3.5 years now after seeing the benefits that it had for my first born. Living near to the woods and beach in Leigh-on-Sea we are very lucky to have outdoor space on our doorstep and I aim to take it all in and enjoy it almost every day.

Playing outdoors is great for the imagination. Look at a stick for example. Is it a sword? Is it a pencil to write in the mud? Is it the body of a stickman? Or perhaps it’s a lead for walking a dog? Children’s imaginations are limitless and innocent. Without having plastic, much wanted toys around to distract them, I’ve found my children to be at their most imaginative. They are keen explorers, forget about their arguments over the television, don’t ask for food every 5 minutes, and stop messing up each other’s Lego structures. It’s a win win situation!

Just take a minute to breathe in the air around you when you are walking in woodland, parks or a forest. The extra oxygen filling your lungs can make you feel great and positive, so imagine what it can do for young children who are unaware of this extra benefit. Even being with my crazy 3 on our adventures, being outside gives me the headspace I crave to be able to be the parent I want to be.

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In the past couple of summers, I’ve taken our love for the outdoors even further by taking my children away on outdoor holidays by myself. We go away with Real Family Holidays which is a company run by the British Field Studies Council. Den building, campfires, mammal and reptile hunting and pond dipping are amongst the activities offered and it’s a wonderful way to be away from technology and immerse yourself and your family in the outdoor world. With no distractions such as shops and plastic toys, the children are all so happy and free, it’s a wonderful place to be.

So go on, make it your mission to get outside this Autumn and enjoy the world around you, I promise you won’t regret it!

Activities for keeping it interesting:
– The beach isn’t just for summer! Pop wellies on, grab a collection bag and hunt for pretty shells and rocks to arrange at home.
– Go out after it’s been raining. Whilst walking in the heavy rain might be saved specially for preschool runs, head out to the woods and enjoy the puddles once it’s stopped. Invest in some waterproof suits and wellies, bring a change of clothes for afterwards and let the children experience water and puddles.
– Bring a simple activity to do. Play comes so naturally outside but I often bring a couple of sheets of cardboard and a glue stick so that the children can make collages, or some string to make ‘fishing rods’ or ‘stick men’ with sticks.
– Use a comfortable baby carrier or sling to carry younger babies and toddlers on your adventures. You can access many more places if you don’t worry about buggy access.
– Devise picture lists of things to find or print them from the Internet. Giving the children things to find gives them a purpose on your walk and a sense of pride when they have found something.

You can find Holly on instagram @leighfamilylife

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