How to love the outdoors?

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  • Kelly Bond

    I have a confession to make…I do not love the outdoors! I want to, I really do, but I just don’t. I grew up in the suburbs and certainly spent lots of time playing outside, but not really immersed in nature. I don’t like to get dirty, nor do I like the feeling of wet grass on my feet or dirt caked on my hands. I had my first two ticks this summer and that grossed me out SO much I have nearly been afraid to go out and just enjoy the outdoors. Prior to that, for my son’s sake, we had been doing some nature stuff inspired by CM.

    I now have two little boys and know in my heart they need to be outside a lot, exploring and such. Does anyone have any advice, encouragement, suggestions for a mom who wants to do right by her boys but has a hard time with the outdoors? (PS…I do enjoy scenery, clouds, flowers, gardens, weather-watching, etc., so I do enjoy some outdoor pursuits, just not the messy, dirty ones.)

    Thanks so much!


    The biggest peice of advice I can give you is to keep in mind who you are doing this for.  It’s not for your enjoyment, but for your boys.  If you can keep that in mind, and just keep on doing the outdoorsy things, one of two things will happen: 1)you will learn to tolerate it more or 2)you may actually begin to like it.

    When my husband and I were married I instantly had three growing, active boys.  And they like boy things.  Sports, boy movies, Legos, anything a boy would love, they did (and still do).  This was very different from me, basically growing up as the only child in the house (my brother moved out when I was 10) and into very girly things.  I danced ballet, loved choir, school dances, etc.  You get the picture.  My life drastically changed with the addition of 3 little boys (and 1 big one!).  At first it was difficult for me, honestly, but I knew that I loved my boys with all of my heart, and I knew I needed to do what was right for them.  And that meant playing with Lego’s and Hot Wheels (as well as having them displayed all over my house), going outside and playing with them, letting them get dirty and muddy, watching Star Wars and those type of movies….The list could go on.  I’ve come to enjoy many of those things over time.  Some of them, I still don’t like, but I do anyways, but I tolerate them and enjoy the enjoyment my boys get out of it.  And, if there are some things I absolutely don’t think that I can get myself to do, I still allow the boys to do them and supervise.  Often, the simple family time we get to spend together outweighs any discomfort from the actual activity.

    Just keep doing what you’re doing.  Your heart is definately in the right place, and you will find something that works for your family.

    When my daughters were little and we were in England, I used to let them out in our fenced yard, we had a big old English country garden, and I let them get into whatever they wanted.  They collected snails, worms, butterflies, and all kinds of things, they used their legos to make little towns for the creatures on the patio and then plopped the worms and snails in them – we had real little towns of snails, slugs, caterpillers and worms.  I supervised and provided containers etc, but they did the rest.  I love nature and the outdoors, but my point is that there is a lot they can do on their own.  I did not constantly chase after them with sanitizer, my mother did not do it with me, and I survived, so I figured they would as well – I actually think we are all a bit clean crazy these days.  We used to tramp through the fields and woods near our home and look for birds, flowers  and other creatures, collected flowers, stamped in puddles and encouraged birds into our yard.  Even now, my daughters are 17, they still have snails in a habitat, and they informed me this morning that the snails have laid eggs – they have bird boxes full of eggs and or  babies –  recently a duck decided our front yard was the place to lay her eggs and 3 ducklings have just hatched and waddled off to the local pond.  We have caterpillers from swallowtail butterflies in a habitat which will cocoon soon.  So as you can see just from some very simple things in childhood, their love of nature and animals has continued to grow and each year it becomes more important in their lives.  I actually took a hands off approach, and just offered the opportunities and the equipment, they did all the rest.  I had them sketching their finds from quite a young age, and gave them books to find out what creature they had found – I helped with more complicated things, but in general it was something that came very naturally to them, and they preferred to play alone, then come tell me or show me their accomplishments.  So I would encourage them, show them things, you don’t have to pick the gross things up, let them do the fun stuff.  I understand over here, you have to be more careful as there are more harmful creatures over here than in England, but let them loose and see what they can do.  If they are too young right now, then just keep that in mind for the future.  I always remember one day going out on the patio and seeing the snails with tiny little string harness type things on, pulling a matchbox, I asked what they were doing, and was told, they were chariot racing like the Romans we had read about!  They also handwrote (when they were a bit older) a weekly newsletter, called the Slo Snail Gazette, with news stories about snail town, and chariot racing etc.  I was amazed, but they had such fun and it opened up such a lot in their lives.  I encourage you to nurture the love of all things natural and the outdoors – it is a beautiful thing.  Linda


    I love the outdoors, but I don’t like ticks and getting dirtt either! You can be outdoors without having to get muddy. And if your boys get muddy, they can learn that Mom doesn’t want to play that way and she will be sitting quietly over there, away from the mud. 🙂 

    You can certainly alternate “wild” days with more “civilized” days. Visit a beautiful garden once in awhile, a zoo, or landscaped park. It doesn’t all have to be about climbing trees and looking under rocks…though your kids will prefer those activities if they are like my kids.

    Maybe you can find some shoes that will keep you from feeling the wetness and mud. There are quite a few cute outdoorsy shoes on the market these days. I carry along a vinyl tablecloth in my bag so I always have something dry and clean to sit on, now matter what the ground is like.

    Since you like to watch weather, maybe you can work on a weather journal while your kids do the more hands-on messy stuff. Sounds fun to me.

    Kelly Bond

    Thanks for the ideas…I appreciate them! I like the idea of providing the opportunities and allowing them to go for it. I absolutely do NOT want to pass along any weird nuances of mine about the outdoors. I have enjoyed the things we’ve done so far…I will just keep working on it and pray for the grace I need!

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