Nature is Closer than you Think

Author: Tammi Roy from My Organized Chaos

Looking back at my childhood, the bulk of my memories were those spent outdoors. They are of moments spent riding bikes, exploring in the woods, building forts, running through the sprinkler, skating on the local pond, and even building igloos (or trying to anyway). Flash forward to the now, and I have three amazing daughters, and oftentimes I wonder what their biggest memories will someday entail.

Living in the technology era that we do, there's a common parental worry that time spent outdoors is way too infrequent. There really are countless reasons for this, yet it’s no surprise that today’s children spend less time outdoors than their parents did. Key barriers include:

  • Canadian Weather - 43 per cent of Canadians claim they don’t get outside because it is too cold and 24 per cent tend to avoid nature because they don’t like insects/bugs.
  • Too tired - A feeling that getting out in nature requires packing up the car and driving somewhere far away. 27 per cent of Canadians deprioritize exploring nature is because they are just too tired.
  • Societal pressure - According to Nature Valley research, parents feel tremendous societal pressure on organized, structured activities for their kids, instead of letting them play freely in nature. For many parents, letting kids play freely outside somehow doesn’t measure up. As a result, scheduled activities tend to fill up kids’ free time – in addition to dinner time, homework time and bed time.
  • Technology - Canadian children are spending three times more time indoors on digital devices than they do outside. They’re missing out on the numerous and significant benefits that come from spending time in nature. When asked what the largest barrier is to spending time outdoors, 35 per cent of Canadians under 18 said they’d prefer to spend their time with technology, such as social media & gaming.

This fact comes from a Nature Valley survey conducted with Vision Critical and the comparison of time spent outdoors through the years. This survey also found that even our adult generation spends less time outdoors than our own parents as well — so it seems that through the decades, this number keeps on decreasing. Right now it's estimated that today's children spend three times more screen-time than outdoor-time. Knowing this, it's alarming to think of the lifestyles of generations to come.

We must change this now, and reverse the pattern — and Nature Valley is leading the way with their #NatureMoments campaign, to inspire Canadians to rediscover the joy of nature. Taking in nature not only helps to calm, energize and uplift our spirits, but it gives us valuable exercise and activity time. Thing is, it's not just about going deep into the woods on a dedicated and lengthy hike — it’s everywhere around us and we can enjoy it by simply being outside doing even the simplest of things.

With the change in seasons and an immense feeling and need to get out of the house and away from the screens, for the last few weeks I have put a very strong focus on getting outdoors daily with my daughters. One of the activities that we've been enjoying tremendously (at least 3 times per week so far!), is walking our local dog parks with our furry family member, Charlie.

At first we chose a few different parks each time we went, yet I then discovered the Park Finder tool at NatureValley.ca. According to survey findings, 83% of Canadians have a park close to their home and one in five live within 250 metres of a park — yet, we’re not necessarily taking advantage of our proximity to nature, despite our desire to get outside more often. I find the Park Finder tool to be a fantastic resource to not only find new parks in your area, but it also encourages and reminds us that enjoying nature can be simple and close to home. This tool helps break the mundane, without say, a huge timely trip involved. We personally use this tool often, and the simple act of the girls taking turns in picking a park gets them so excited to get outside for some nature moments.

I very much look forward to our walks together, it's so nice to stretch the legs and breathe in the fresh air. Yet I also cherish the memories we all are making as the kids and dog run the paths, stop to look at fallen trees, and throw rocks in the river. We talk, explore, and laugh each and every time; and it's so worth making it a priority in life. I know priceless memories are being made along with so many other benefits {including some dog training}, and that is so important.

'Find a new park', like we are doing, is just one of the great ideas found on the 100 Days of Summer checklist courtesy of Nature Valley. These 100 easy and fun nature moment ideas demonstrate that nature is closer than we think, and offers simple and attainable ideas to make those outdoor-time memories. We've printed off this list and challenged ourselves to cross off as many as we can during the summer of 2017, in order to make it a great outdoors one to remember. Why not do the same with your family?

It’s time to find and embrace #NatureMoments - what do you enjoy doing outdoors?

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Tammi Roy from My Organized Chaos

Tammi Roy is an Albertan work at home Mom with 3 beautiful daughters {twins plus one}! She blogs at My Organized Chaos, a leading online resource for parenting, travel, recipes and more.

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