By Lelia Schott
I grew up in a city, predominantly in small apartments, with my young, single, working mother, and little sister.
My fondest childhood memories are in the garden at my grandparents, and when my mum took us to parks and nature reserves for long walks, reading, picnicking and exploring.
Imagining ‘Little Me’ running free outdoors with the wind in my hair and sun on my face makes me feel happy. The emotional memories are powerful.
I remember my grandmother repeatedly saying, “go play outside children”, and I’m glad she did. The backyard forts, tree-climbing, secret flower-picking for our fairy friends, eating sun-ripened fruit off trees, and lying in soft grass with my little sister staring up at the big sky, give rise to positive feelings within me.
Walks with my gentle grandfather were magical as he named birds and plants along the way.
I had enough encounters as a child to know I wanted to build my adult life close to nature.
When I became a parent, I soon discovered how the faithful outdoors changed the mood for myself and my new baby. The simple act of placing him on a blanket under a tree made his eyes sparkle in wonder at the light dancing on the leaves.
The days seemed so long and lonely indoors, but fresh air and a brisk walk helped us feel more connected – physically and psychologically.
My eldest baby is almost twenty-two years old now. I do not regret any of the time we spent in nature adventuring together. I am so grateful to have the memories and know he loves and respects nature.
As a mother to four sons and two daughters, we prioritise our life around getting outdoors as often as we can. In nature, my children play together more, I discipline less, we connect more and the housework is less. We all feel, behave, learn, create, eat and sleep better.
There is a rich opportunity for personal and interpersonal growth together in the wild.
From my experience, children and parents are less stressed and frustrated in nature. There are fewer distractions and greater opportunities for meaningful heart to heart connections.
Children are more authentic and happier in nature.
I love how they are free to speak louder, and yet learn to whisper.
Free to shut out the noise, and yet listen intently.