Do you remember playing outside as a child? I spent hours upon hours playing in the woods: making elaborate houses with fallen branches, shaping dishes out of the clay we found in the soil, decorating with flowers and leaves. I remember climbing trees so high I got dizzy and had to be coached back down. There were games of hide and seek in the tall grass of an empty lot across the street, and in the winter, elaborate snow forts and all-neighborhood snowball fights.
Children need nature. And not just seeing it, but experiencing it: the feel of grass under their feet, the sound of the birds in the woods, the smell of wet dirt. Studies have shown that children who play regularly in natural environments exhibit more advanced motor fitness, including coordination, balance and agility, and they are sick less often*. But for too many children, time playing in nature is a rare treat.
So how can we, as grandparents, help?
Make your yard a place for exploration.
Provide them with natural elements for creative play: sticks and stones and leaves and dirt and water. Keep a place for them to dig for worms. Let them make forts in your bushes and move the rocks in your border. Let them climb your trees and hang from the branches. Let them lie on the grass and watch the bugs. Let them go barefoot and let them get dirty.
It can be that easy. But if you want more ideas for making your backyard into a child-friendly play space, I highly recommend Molly Dannenmaier’s book, A Child’s Garden. She provides dozens of ideas and inspiration for creating natural play areas that fit into adult gardens.
For more about the crucial role nature plays for all of us, read The Nature Fix by Florence Williams.
No backyard? No problem. I’ll share ideas for connecting children to nature in my next post.
*Grahn, et al. 1997, Fjortoft & Sageie 2001
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The Secrets to Making a Difference While Having the Time of Your Life
Linda Eyre has a large family: nine children and 31 grandchildren (as of the writing of the book in 2018). Her previous books on motherhood gained her loyal followers across the globe, and it is those fans who will probably enjoy this book most.
Eyre shares the steps she and her husband have taken to strengthen the bonds with their large and far-flung brood, but many of them are very specific to a large, religious, financially advantaged family. Much of the book is a walk through her own stories and relationships.
While there are some useful ideas and inspiring stories buried within, I found myself skimming through the personal parts to get to the promised secrets. Ultimately, I didn’t find much advice that hadn’t been covered more succinctly in other books, such as Jane Isay’s Unconditional Love.
Eyre ends the book with a chapter of recipes to feed a crowd. It’s a nice touch, but for those of us not cooking for 20+ people, not very valuable. If your library has a copy of Grandmothering, it’s worth taking a look to see if you think it will be useful for you.
This site contains affiliate links to products I have personally chosen to share. I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Every penny helps support this site and allows me to visit my grandchildren, so thank you for your support!