If you think back to your childhood, most likely what comes to mind are experiences you shared with friends and family, not the things you had.
As a young child, I grew up near the waters of the Chesapeake Bay. I can remember spending hours on a dock with a string tied to a chicken leg and a net, catching crabs. My brothers and I learned that crabs are fast and DO have eyes on the back of their head!
Then, there was the time we were in New Hampshire and my parents let my friend and I go canoeing alone on the lake. I felt like I had been given the world. But I don't remember what I got for my birthday or Christmas that year!
My childhood exploits and the relationships I had are what make me smile as I look back.
Science supports this phenomena.
Cornell psychologist, Thomas Gilovich has done extensive studies demonstrating that people base their happiness on their experiences not their purchases. And more significantly for parents, I think, is the finding that people reflecting back are happier when telling the stories of those experiences again.
Don’t you want to create that opportunity for your children? It is a win-win situation. You and your children gain pleasure now and when you all look back in the future you get to re-live it again, with joy and satisfaction.
Nature is the perfect place to create memorable experiences. Anything from a walk together in the woods to a week at a coastal beach provide the ingredients for fond memories and rich experiences. Some outdoor experiences come with a cost, while many are free for the taking. Nature is a feast of opportunity that unites and delights. Often when we are outside, one of my children will point to a beautiful flower, an unusual insect or a sunset that paints the sky. In that moment, we are connected - a snapshot to put in the experiential memory album.
Today’s pace of life leaves little room for those experiences. We settle for buying things, instead of creating those experiences that lead to happiness.
I love how Shauna Nequist says it in her book, Bread and Wine:
I am leaving you with a challenge to examine your calendar and see how you can make room for experiences. It may mean saying, “no” to an event or skipping a team sport for your child this season. It could mean taking a weekend trip instead of buying the latest iPhone. But what it definitely means is making time to go outside and experience nature together. Here are 10 ideas for experiences in nature:
This is not a magic list of activities - only a list to get you started. Sometimes special moments just happen without you even realizing it. What you do need is a willingness to step outside, to be fully present, and to engage with your kids. There is no price tag for that.
BE INTENTIONAL AND EXPERIENCE THE OUTDOORS. POST YOUR EXPERIENCES ON THE SKIPPING STONES FACEBOOK PAGE SO WE CAN BUILD A COMMUNITY THAT SHARES IDEAS AND HELPS EACH OTHER EXPERIENCE THE OUTDOORS.
Hi! I'm Ann - mother of seven, grandmother of two and occupational therapist. My mission is to provide the support families need to raise thriving children and to help you build a family environment that supports healthy development and a pathway to success.
Great blogs to check out:
Rain or Shine Mamma
Children & Nature Network
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