Welcome to the “A more natural life” series. In this series of posts I explore how I am attempting to have a wonderful life based on my appreciation of nature. So let’s see how nature will set you (and I) free!
What a wonderful thing, to be able to go outside and be surrounded by the Australian bush. Today I packed the children up and we went exploring with a beautiful friend in a Eucalyptus forest. As we walked up the path, there were so many plants to see that I had to hold back from starting a science lesson! Being a botanist by trade I find it difficult to refrain from naming all the plants I recognise (in latin).
The thing is though, when I watch my children in the bush, their quiet joy tells me to hold my tongue.
Children have a special way with nature if they are allowed to explore it at their leisure. I find my children’s’ experience is diminished when adults try to interpret nature for them. They really don’t need to be told to “feel this bark, it’s rough”, or “smell that flower”. Phrases like “stay on the track” or “keep on walking” really take away from their experience. My toddler spent 5 minutes today looking for the spider that belonged to a delicate web we found. She spent another 5 minutes following an ant along a fallen log. Another stint was spent walking back and forth across a timber bridge over a dry creek bed. I started to feel a bit unsure as the group was waiting for her to do her thing, but she loved it. On the way home in the car she told me “I love bushwalking with you Mummy”. How lucky I am.
So here is my plan to let my children and learn what they need to, when they need to each time they are exploring nature:
- If I point out something cool, like a web/beetle/bird/flower, stop it there. I will take a step back and allow their natural curiosity to take over. I will let them learn what they wish in that moment and not describe something for them. I will shut my mouth!
- My children will stop and burst into song at the trees. Let it happen. There is no need to sing along. Let it be their moment in the sun.
- If my children take what I think to be an excessively long time doing one thing, I will remember that they are making memories. These memories form connections that help them find their place in the world.
- Enjoy the moment. It will never be repeated.
- Plan the time, so I have the time. There is no need to rush a walk if we have no other plans.
I’m sure this approach can apply to other parts of my life too.