I have a wonderful life. Unlike most of the worlds’ population, I have secure housing and food at every meal time. My children are healthy and well cared for. My problems are first world problems. Some days though, I catch myself feeling like a caged animal and all the good stuff seems to disappear from my mind. I start to care about inconsequential crap. So as a long term solution to some short term “problems” I am in the process of enriching our habitat. Yes I am attempting a treechange in the city.
Granted, I am extremely lucky to live in the suburban outskirts of a well-placed city, Brisbane. There are plentiful options for day trips and weekends away to beautiful locations that are very low cost (more on this soon). So, how does one attempt a tree change in the city I hear you ask? I am incorporating the following steps into our life. So far it’s been really fun.
- Enrich the indoors by incorporating natural elements for play. We have a treasure branch. On our journeys into the world we collect little “treasures”. When we are home we string them onto the treasure branch. I believe it links my toddler’s little world at home with the bigger world. I approach it as a way of being grateful for our little adventures and my toddler gets to remember and link places together.
- Enrich the outdoors at home. There is no need to install an animal sanctuary in the back garden for a space to feel engaging and natural. I have so far avoided plastic play equipment. We have just installed some new logs for balancing acts and tactile engagement. I suspect these will soon be painted!
- Get tree planting! This can easily be herbs in a plant pot that are brought inside to live if you have no outside space. Our current plantings are edible herbs and cat grass. My toddler has her own garden of herbs and flowers in pots that she waters and tends to. This is a wonderful time for all involved, especially if you like playing with water…
- Tell joyful stories at bedtime. I incorporate a made up story each bed time along with her usual favourites. My toddler is the main character and she has wonderful adventures through the bush and beach. Last time a cockatoo taught her how to fly after she’d made wings of branches and discarded bird feathers. You get the picture.
- Make time for gentle reflection. I like this in the afternoon. If I’m a bit pressed for time this also has been known to occur in the bath or shower!
- Incorporate a visit to a natural area once a week if possible. The benefits to children and adults are widely published. Our family enjoys getting getting out and about together. It builds and reinforces connection with each other and establishes gratitude towards the natural world.
- I guess this last item is the one that has helped me reduce my everyday stress levels and contribute towards the “feeling” of having a treechange. I just do one thing a day. I get in and out of the car once with the children. I don’t run around town anymore. Sure I compensate by doing more online when they are asleep but the difference to our lives has been profound. Of course, this is not always achievable, but a nice goal!