Wednesday, September 07, 2016

On Giving our Kids More


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There are two things I'm becoming surprisingly strict about as a mom: my children spending time outdoors and my children eating healthy food. Nature and nurture you could say. Certainly these aren't "surprising" parenting concerns to most people, but as a latch-key kid of the late 80's and early 90's who spent way too much time in front of the TV eating my way through an entire box of Little Debbie Swiss cake rolls, this most definitely comes as a surprise to me.

I was the kid who felt bad for my friends whose parents only let them watch an hour of TV a day in between bike rides and soccer games. Poor suckers, they probably didn't even know the name of every Golden Girl or what the latest shenanigans were on Growing Pains/Diff'rent Strokes/The Wonder Years. And when it came to nutrition I was no better. I remember being in high school when my friends were consciously eating fruits and vegetables because they claimed it "made them feel better." I remember being confused because their parents weren't even watching. Hello? You're parents aren't around, you don't have to eat that crap. I just purchased 4 fruit roll-ups for lunch, want one?

My how the tables have turned. Now my kids are the poor suckers who can't watch TV all day and who we force to play outside even if it's just on a neighborhood walk after dinner. And on top of it, we only let them have treats 2 times a week. I know. We're the worst. My 10-year-old self is cringing at the strict and deprived lifestyle my children are forced to adhere to. That being said, my current mom-self really appreciates that CLIF Kid is dedicated to reclaiming play with our kiddos. Did you know that only 31% of kids play outside today, as opposed to 70% of their moms who played outside when they were kids? Obviously these ratios don't apply to me, but still it's shocking. Yet believable.

As a parent there's the idea that we want to give our kids more than we had. For some people, they mean more stuff. When I think about giving my kids more than what I had, I think about giving them more experience, a better work ethic and more connection. Connection to each other, to nature, and to the world around them. A less is more kind of approach.

 So we hike.

And this weekend we also camped and canoed. My kids actually love being outside, but hiking and being in nature does tend to stretch their kid-limits just a bit. But, in a good way. Our oldest knows that her legs are strong and that she can hike for miles and climb difficult trails by herself. She knows how strong she is because she's done it. As a kid, I didn't know these things because I didn't do them.

In a world fast-paced world of 24 hour news cycles and short attention spans, I love that nature often demands slowing down and attention to detail. Like noticing tiny caterpillars among the giant trees, finding a single Horton-Finds-a-Who flower and a fairy ring of mushrooms just off the trail. This is the more I want for my kids.
And while we're talking about more, lets just say I'm always happy to have a healthy and quick snack option for my kiddos to refuel their energy while we're out and about forcing them to suck the marrow out of life. CLIF Kid Zbars are made with organic ingredients and have no high fructose corn syrup or artificial flavors. Also, my kids LOVE them. The fact that we can eat them while we hike is an added bonus.
After a morning hike we climbed aboard a canoe and floated down a lazy river, taking our sweet time. This is a picture of my two year old toddler clutching an oar with a life jacket on because she's about to float down a river in a canoe. A canoe! I don't know when I first floated down a river in a canoe, but I was definitely not still in diapers. Again, experience. More. 
We stopped on a little rocky beach to play in the water and throw some rocks. I told my husband that I've never in my life been able to skip a rock on the water. He showed me (again) and I tried (again) and I failed (again). So I tried and tried and tried until I did it! I skipped my very first rock ever on this river just this past weekend.

Another added bonus to giving our kids more experience and connection? We give it to ourselves as well.

Do you hike, camp and spend time outdoors with your kids--if so, what are your reasons? Are you trying to give them more by giving them less? I love this video by CLIF kid--it's the perfect vision of a "less is more" childhood. 


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I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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