At the beginning of the July 2019 school holiday’s I joined a holiday challenge (because I’m quite partial to a challenge) set up by the lovely Celia Hogan which was to be outdoor for 25 hours over the two week period. I’ve a few reflections and observations I’ll share with you.
When I first started the challenge I had an interesting conversation with a friend who lives in Wanaka who questioned 25 hours because in some places (like Wanaka) 25 hours would be some families weekly quota of outside time (if not more!!). This got us talking about where people live and what lifestyles they have. I do believe we have some extremities in lifestyles between our NZ towns and cities and there are all sorts of factors for this. One of the things I came to realise and certainly being on this challenge is that we make the best of our personal situation and of what we have around us. Whether we are working or stay at home parent, whether we live rural, city side, by the beach, near the forest, South Island or North island, NZ is a truly special place. We have some incredible places available to us that we can explore and you never have to go very far.
So, for us, living in central Auckland with very little backyard and definitely no mud to be found in our outside space, I knew I had to get creative and change our routine a bit to get this time outside. Changing routine in itself was a big step for me as I’ve more often than not found if I mess with the routine kids dinner and bedtime goes downhill fast!!! The two Miss 4’s in particular are super tired after a day at pre-school however as Miss 7 was not at school I felt like I had a bit more flexibility and could pick them up earlier which made me feel I could push the routine a wee bit.
Because we always left the house to get that time outside, the kids really felt my time was with them, free from distraction of “all the things I have to do” or “get ready” at home and around the house. I too was benefitting from taking the time out from everyday stuff and I allowed myself to enjoy the time with my children outside naturally. There was an overwhelming feeling with my inner lioness… it was like I was setting my brood off to run wild, free and “super fast” in open spaces to freely explore their surroundings (its the only way I can describe it!).
There was one place we visited I’d not been to before and taking the four of them out solo was a little daunting (this didn’t actually register in my mind until I got to the place!) I was unsure how this was all going to unfold however I was so glad we did it! It was a lot of fun and quite surprising finding a forest in the middle of the city. The weather on this particular day was incredibly moody which added to the sense of adventure!
And folks guess what else I noticed? The kids did not care about the weather!! Nope not a bit… the rain came down and they loved it! I surrendered to it and loved it too! It’s liberating, fresh and so much fun! It felt great!! If you are following any kind of nature/outdoorsy person or group you will have heard the term “there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing” if you’ve not heard it, you are welcome – make it a mantra!
Even though each day was a different amount of time outside, some days we had just 10 mins, some days were a good couple of hours (mostly at the weekend and my husband was with us) regardless of the amount of time, it did make a difference to how we all felt. I’m convinced the time we spent outside helped with the mood for everyone at home in the evening – it was like we had pushed a reset button we were all refreshed from the day or re-energised for the day. There was little to no dramas and the kids slept so much better too. Our family connection has been strengthened by spending time outside especially when dad comes too and we make a day of it.
I really enjoyed this challenge, it pushed me outside of my comfort zone a number of times and helped shape the two weeks. This challenge has made me even more aware of the power nature has for our well being. In particular for our children having time and space away from routines and schedules, time to just be in nature. Its incredible some of the things they notice, see and hear and the conversations and play that come about be it imaginary or real.
I think it would be fair to say that we managed to accomplish if not exceed 25 hours of outdoor time over a two week period. However, as we head back to school, I ask myself is it possible to continue to achieve this time outside? Well, I’m just not sure about that yet. However, one of the things I’m going to be more conscious of is to question every day if we’ve all had enough outside time and if not to make sure we get some. Be it 10 mins or a couple of hours that refresh makes all the difference.