Updated: Jul 21, 2020
When I pick up my son from school, his eyes look tired and slightly sad. I know when I see him like this it means he’s overwhelmed…again. My son is almost 5 and finds school very tiring. We (and the teacher) suspect he is highly gifted and often over stimulated by the supervised chaos of early learning. So, when I see my tired boy, I know exactly what he needs.
I put him on the bike, and we cycle (his sister and myself) to the forest. Thursday’s are always my mama days and so I made it a ritual to make sure that we are spending at least one afternoon in nature. While biking, I noticed how not just my son but the three of us begin to recharge . . . just sitting and observing the world around us as we cycle out of the city.
Once we arrived in the forest, the first question my daughter asked is, ‘Did the pirates hide a treasure for us’? I look at them with a mysterious face and playfully say, ‘Of course they did’! You see, we started this pirate treasure hunt 1.5 years ago, when we first moved to Utrecht. It came about when I noticed that after a few visits to the forest my son didn't feel like going there anymore. So, I came up with a story about pirates and hidden treasure and now my son enthusiastically runs to my bike to go on our treasure hunts . . . sometimes even dressed as pirates. Now, every time we are in the forest, I see the magic of nature in my son’s behavior and mood. He is calmer, more self-confident, creative, and seeks less negative attention.
Treasure hunts in the forest have been a ritual we do almost twice a week now. And this is something I am extremely proud of every time we are there. These visits not only are great for my kids but also me as well as a person and a mother. Let me share some of the benefits I have encountered being in nature with my kids:
No more guilt. Maybe some of you can identify, but you know the feeling when your kids have watched way too much Netflix or spent all day in the house and the entire family starts to go nuts? Well, when I introduced the treasure hunt and promised myself to go out into nature twice a week, I feel way less guilty towards my children’s health and my own!
Every time we are in the forest or beach, lake, river, park, I see such a difference in the kids. They are recharging their batteries with oxygen and bird watching, climbing trees and basically discovering every inch of the forest. The largest impact I’ve seen is how my son is . . . how much calmer he becomes in the forest and directly after our visits. Much like many children his age, he seeks attention both positive and negative. This can be quite tiresome for the entire family. But, when we’re out in nature this magically dissolves. He’s just being; playing with sticks and stones and finding peace and calmness he so desperately needs.
Another wonderful impact it has had for our family is on the relationship between my two children. They don’t need to fight over any digital device, branches or leaves, or my attention, because nature is a big unstructured play field with enough branches and leaves for both. They also play more together and every time we get back home, I see how they have grown closer.
Another very big advantage is that I GET A BREATHER! Nature does me so much good as a mother, wife, and entrepreneur. It gives me time to recharge my battery, not think about what I need to do, create, clean, or make.
And last but not least, a big advantage is that the more we are in nature, the more natural nature becomes. So, the kids get used to it; to the unstructured paradise where everything is possible. Nature is not one swing or one slide. It’s a fallen tree that can be a bridge, a rope, a boat . . . anything your kids and you can imagine.
Click here to find easy steps to create your own magical treasure hunt experience, so you and your family can start recharging and reconnecting. I hope you too will see how your kids will consciously or subconsciously experience the calmness and joy nature brings and that the treasure hunt motivation will become secondary.