Mamma's School

Home Education Adventure

Nature Therapy-Seeking Calm & Solitude

Everyone needs a bit of nature, and sometimes it’s easier said than done to get out there, but it is so important.

As my trio now go to school for the 5 mornings a week, for the first time in a lot of years, I am left with a few precious hours to call my own (all be it with a to-do list as long as my arm to work through before they all tumble back home again!  Same as any Mamma).  Nature has been my saving grace these past 9 years, even more so the last nearly 6…spot the link 😉 !  However, I now have the opportunity to head out into it on my own, without my band of crazies following me.  Don’t get me wrong, I live for our little hikes, our outdoor cooking, and exploring nature with them, but there is only real peace to be found when they aren’t leaping around in trees or running into the sea in their undies!  And I need peace as I find such a noisy house quite a bombardment on the senses.  I’m relishing these moments I can now take.  Sometimes I will cook, sometimes I will just make a hot drink with my beloved Kelly Kettle, but I will always admire the views.

Nature is, after all, therapy for the mind.  Nature is known to induce calm and decrease stress, as well as increasing happiness.  Nature is food for our minds, like food and water are for our bodies.  This is because the natural environment places no demands on us, yet it remains engaging.  It gets our attention in different ways.  It can promote calmness and well being due to being a low stress environment.  Being surrounded by nature has so many benefits, and the main one I was in search of today was the sounds of the waves.  I love sitting there listening to the sea hitting the shore, whether it’s gentle lapping or crashing waves.  So I packed my breakfast and cooking things and headed off around the island, stopping half way to cook my supplies and enjoy the view.

Nature can help increase our happiness levels.  The breathing in of fresh air, combined with taking exercise with a nice view, all helps to put your mind into a happier place.  Nature makes us healthier.  It increases our exposure to natural light, which in turn helps increase our vitamin D levels.  This helps prevent some health problems, but also being outdoors helps improve sleep, decreases stress, and increase energy…something I always find disappearing quickly with three children around!

Whilst I’m not naive enough to think that all of my troubles, or anyone else’s, will be washed away by a walk in nature, immersing oneself in it for a few hours certainly makes me feel more like myself.  No doubt 10 minutes of them being home again will undo most of the good work, but I’m still reaping the benefits really 🙂

Nature therapy, healing nature, calming nature, solitude nature, nature, outdoors, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

Campfire Blueberry Cake – A Foraged Pudding

If you are looking for a tasty, early autumn, foraged campfire treat, then this blueberry cake is your answer.  I have to admit though, this time round we used bought blueberries as I knew it was going to be a very wet hike!!  The recipe is very vague, deliberately, as outdoor cooking is best kept that way as it makes it a lot more simple!

So, what do you need?

Eggs (I work on 1 per person)

Slices of bread (I work on 1 per egg) and broken into small chunks

Blueberries (for 3 people, 2 handfuls were perfect)

Tablespoon of creme fraiche (1 tablespoon per 3 eggs)

1 tablespoon milk (per 3 eggs)

A liberal sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar

Mix all of the ingredients together in a pan, then place it onto the fire to cook.  Stir it every so often to prevent it burning and sticking to the pan.  It will take around 5-10 minutes, and will be ready when the egg makes the rest of the ingredients start to set.  This is such a lovely warm, fruity treat, and my trio wolfed it down, although they had hiked first and it was pouring with rain 😉

 

 

Campfire blueberry cake, blueberry cake, outdoor blueberry cake, foraged blueberry cake, www.mammasschool.co.uk

Räntemåla Gård Älg Park – See the Beautiful Elk.

Räntemåla Gård Älg Park, Alg, elk, moose, sweden, www.mammasschool.co.uk

Räntemåla Gård Älg Park is a haven for älg, each with their own story to tell.  The älg (elk/moose) are very shy creatures, and despite me coming backwards and forwards to Scandinavia regularly for over 40 years now, I had never managed to see one of these beautiful animals.  Even though we are out in nature a lot, and hiking off the beaten trail, the experience had alluded me.  Räntemåla Gård Älg Park, offers visitors the opportunity to see these stunning animals in their natural environment.

Älg first appeared on Räntemåla Gård Älg Park back in 1996, when an abandoned calf, called Helga, (they all have names), was found in a paddock and eventually made his home on the farm.  There are many tales to tell behind the reasons for each älg being there, and they are so fun to listen too.  There has even been an escapee, leaping over the fence, only to find that he returned during hunting season to never leave again….he wasn’t keen on hunting season!!

We headed up to Räntemåla Gård Älg Park one late summer’s afternoon.  You need to check the website for opening times and months of the year.  They work around the älg life.  They like to eat in the late afternoon, hence the farm being open to visitors then, as you will see them.  They know where there is good, easy, food and head up to the meadow to get some.  It also closes to the public before the summer is finished, as although these lovely creatures are very tame (and we got lots of opportunity to stroke and feed them) they are still wild animals.  Come September the males will be looking to mate and will become aggressive.  In order to prevent anyone getting hurt, they close the farm to the public well in advance to prevent any randy älg causing havoc.

 

I totally and utterly fell in love with these beautiful animals, and it is safe to say I am now totally besotted with them!  We fed them bread (even bananas to one cheeky bull), and stroked their velvety antlers.  We rubbed their noses, and had a little chuckle about their gangly legs and interactions with each other.  They are amusing to watch together.  The farm owners did a very informative background chat, which was also funny, and we learnt so much.  It was very hands on and a very close up experience.  I would recommend it to anyone as a way to see these very shy, but lovely animals.  Our three were speechless, in awe, and although nervous at first, they were keen to get touching and stroking once they got used to their presence and size.  It was so lovely for them.

Sticks Are The Best Toys Ever!

Sticks are great toys….they are free, abundantly available in the outdoors, and have many play possibilities and functions.  Plus, children seem drawn to them like magnets 🙂  Anyone that follows us on Instagram (@mammasschool) will know that my trio are rarely seen without a bundle of sticks, or trying to drag what is more like a tree trunk along on a hike.

When playing with sticks there is an added benefit, in that they are generally to be found in the outdoors, which means they lend themselves to naturally be played with in the great outdoors.  I have many posts about the benefits of outdoor play.  They can be found in the following links:

http://mammasschool.co.uk/parenting/balanced-barefoot-importance-unrestricted-outdoor-play/

http://mammasschool.co.uk/parenting/outdoor-play-children-natures-sanity/

http://mammasschool.co.uk/parenting/healing-nature-relying-beach-work-magic/

http://mammasschool.co.uk/outdoor-adventures/wild-camping-children-sweden/

In today’s post I want to chat a little about why sticks are so important and a method of play for children.

Sticks are a “loose part” toy.  That means that they have no predetermined role.  It is all down to the child’s imagination and creativity as to what they become, or are used for.  This is important for growth and development.  They can build and construct with them, role play with them, create art with them, and even use them as writing tools.  They also come in lots of shapes, sizes, colours, and textures, adding to the fun.  Many parents shy away from letting children play with sticks on safety grounds.  We have 3 main rules; the sticks do not touch people, you don’t hit anything with them, and lastly (but important for my sanity), they stay outdoors!  Every stick they find is always “the best ever” and I’d have a house full without this rule.   So, with these three little rules in place, a lot of fun can be had.  They may still need a little help drawing the line if play gets a little exuberant, but instead of teaching children that nature is dangerous, we are teaching them it is fun to play in, and then they will have more of a desire to protect it as they are growing up.  They are being able to integrate with nature more.

There are lots of other benefits to playing with sticks too:

It teaches the children personal space and awareness.

It allows them to build strength and muscle (some of them are quite heavy that they shift around).

It allows them to get dirty and “hands on” with nature, helping to build their immunity (a discussion for another day!).

They are allowed to explore their own environment and work out what takes on which role.

It increases stimulation and awareness for the child.

They are using both large and small motor skills.

And of course, they are doing a lot of physical activity when playing with them…all very healthy.

 

So, next time you are headed outdoors with the little people, embrace the stick play 🙂 I find it hard to not keep saying things like “be careful”, or “do you really need to carry that?”, but I try very hard and leave them to it, and generally it all works out OK.  They’ve had a lot of fun, they’ve learnt a lot through play, and I am more relaxed because there have been less arguments as we’ve all been outdoors (even if I was tripping over someone’s log being dragged on the hike!!).

 

sticks, play with sticks, stick toys, outdoor play, nature play, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

Watch a Sunset-Watch Nature’s Magical Show.

watch a sunset, nature, sunset, www.mammasschool.co.uk

“Sunset is still my favorite color, and rainbow is second” – Mattie Stepanek

Last autumn I started taking our trio for sunset picnics…the joy of living in a country where it gets dark very early in the winter 🙂  The sunset provides some of the most stunning sights in nature, and I challenge you not to be in awe and dream while watching this amazing event take place.  Being a mamma to three young children and collapsing into my bed as soon as I can at night, the summer sunsets have been rather too late for me living in Sweden!!  However, they are now returning to a more sociable hour for me, and last night, for our little lady too.  We took a sneaky trip out on our bikes to watch the sun set for the day (leaving the mini men snoring their little heads off in their beds!).  In fact twin 2 had already asked me at breakfast that morning if we could have a sunset picnic….”soon” I said, not long to wait now, and I was so happy he remembered the experiences from last autumn, winter, and spring.

We wrapped up, packed our kelly kettle so that we could have a warming brew, and once we’d located the long lost bike lights, we cycled up to the north west point of our island.  It was so lovely to head out just the 2 of us, for this peaceful and calming experience.  We sat there, in almost silence, holding our hot chocolates, and watching the sun saying goodnight for the day as it sank into the sea below our horizon.

This is a really easy mini adventure that I think all children should experience every so often as part of their immersion in nature, that in turn helps towards making them more aware of their environment and wanting to care for it and its future.  It helps nurture their love of nature. It teaches them to enjoy the simple things in life, living in the present moment, whilst instilling a sense of awe and adventure….part of the excitement for our little lady was also the ride home in the dark!  It’s a time together with your child/children that definitely allows bonding and strengthening of relationships, as well as providing cherished memories.

I can see there will be a lot of sunset picnics coming up in the next few months as our seasons change, and so do the views and light cast by this spectacle.  We may be eating our food in gloves and woolly hats soon, but my three wouldn’t miss these for the world, and that makes me happy!

Stewed Blackberry and Cinnamon Apples.

Stewed blackberry and cinnamon apples are a true foraged autumn treat.  They are extremely easy to make on the go, and very warming cooked on the fire in the great outdoors.  To make our stewed blackberry and cinnamon apples, the only ingredient we carried was the cinnamon sugar mix, the rest we foraged on our bike ride around our island before we set up our fire to cook on 🙂

So what do you need for this yummy treat of stewed blackberry and cinnamon apples?

A mix of ground cinnamon and sugar together (I just add sugar to the ground cinnamon until I am happy with the flavour).

Apples (1 per person) cored

6-8 blackberries per person

 

Please note, you will need to carry a corer (or knife as this will work if you slice the apples too), and tin foil for cooking the apples in on the fire.

Assembling the stewed blackberry and cinnamon apples ingredients together is also beautifully simple.  Once the apples have been cored, place onto a piece of tin foil, stuff blackberries into the centre, sprinkling liberally with the cinnamon sugar as you go, and then all over the top too.  Once this is done, wrap the apple in the tin foil.  Place the foil packets directly onto the fire, and they should be cooked in 5-10 minutes, depending on the ferociousness of the fire.  A good indicator is the parcel is very soft when pressed gently.  Unwrap, and place into a dish to eat.  Sit back and enjoy the view 🙂

outdoor cooking, stewed blackberry and cinnamon apples, autumn treat, foraged autumn treat, foraged, www.mammasschool.co.uk

Wild Camping with Children in Sweden.

Wild camping….with three little people….I think Dadda might have thought I was a bit daft, but he agreed we should try so we did!  Here in Sweden, we have this fantastic thing called “allemansrätten”:  this is the right of public access to roam freely almost anywhere in the countryside.  There are a few responsibilities that come with this; you take care of nature and wildlife, respect landowners and others enjoying the countryside, respect the land and leave no trace you have been there, don’t disturb and don’t destroy.

I had really wanted to get the children away for wild camping, and with the summer now slipping away from us fast, we felt it was now or never for this year.  I had taken them away for 2 nights on my own somewhere over the summer holidays, but it was on a campsite.  It suited our needs well, especially as I was on my own with them, but it was noisy, cramped, and expensive!!  I wanted a closer experience to nature for them, and a more basic, less commercialised one as well.  Where else can you play in trees and swim in freezing sea, all before breakfast?!

I have written a lot in the past about the benefits of the great outdoors and nature play.  You can take a peek at the following posts to go into those in more depth;

http://mammasschool.co.uk/parenting/outdoor-play-children-natures-sanity/

http://mammasschool.co.uk/parenting/take-a-risk-explore-inside-a-tree/

http://mammasschool.co.uk/parenting/balanced-barefoot-importance-unrestricted-outdoor-play/

There were a lot of those reasons involved in our decision to get our children out for a night of wild camping.  Being outdoors and in nature, supports all forms of development, there is more adventure to be had, there are more challenges (and mine up the ante with these by competing, for example who can climb the highest in the tree), and there is more creativity at work.  They love to explore and there is much more to explore in the outdoors, teaching them to adapt to their environment and take risks.  It increases their teamwork as well as their confidence, both very evident in how they helped and persuaded each other during little excursions into the woods during both the daylight and the dark, while we cooked and cleared away.  They taught each other little things too.  However, our decision to take them wild camping was not just about the children.  It is also about looking after nature and there are benefits to us grown ups too.  Our children will not grow up wanting to protect, respect, and look after nature unless they have experienced it, spent a lot of time immersed in it, and been allowed to enjoy it.  This will increase their desire to conserve it.  Also, while I will be the first to raise my hand and say any camping is hard work for the grown ups, before you even make it wild, we too benefit from being outdoors and in nature.  We are getting our fresh air and vitamin D and N, our moods are better (although I have to say the weather does have the potential to alter this!), and our blood pressure should 😉 be lower!

We headed off on our wild camping trip to a place west of us called Gö.  It’s a delightful little peninsula, and whilst here in Sweden you don’t have to go far from any car park to be in the middle of nature and away from people. Plus it was really accessible for us with three small children, and I knew it would be relatively easy to pitch our tent.  We were on our own surrounded by beautiful nature, and it was very peaceful too.  The children learnt a lot of new things as well on this trip.  They helped with the tent pitching, the fire building and lighting, how to toilet, cooking, we star gazed which initiated a whole torrent of questions, and during the night a lost young deer could be heard calling for its mother.  They learnt a lot about looking after themselves, from the importance of insect repellent, to getting over the confusion about sleeping in their clothes, and how to not traipse all the sand and dirt into the sleeping areas.  We watched the sun set, before we laid on our backs and watched the stars come out.  Then in the morning, we had a very freezing dip in the sea after they had been climbing trees!

So, after returning very tired (between them, their sleep talking was constant!), very smelly, and needing a decent loo, are we pleased we did this mini adventure?  Too right we are.  It was a break from the norm for everyone, and for that reason it has provided everyone with a very memorable experience.  The children loved the increased freedom (although they enjoy quite a lot of freedom here in Sweden anyway, they were allowed to wonder into the woods and explore the cove on their own….we could hear them before you panic!).  It was back to basics, with no distractions, bonding time together as a family and as siblings, and lots of fun had with nature play.  I would definitely recommend this to any family (but as we did, go for the easier option of a dry period!!).  Good luck and I really hope you’ll step out of your comfort zone (as we did) and give it a go.  You’ll be seriously pooped but left wanting to do it again…..maybe in another year 🙂

Wild camping, kids camping, children camping, nature, outdoors, sweden, camping, www.mammasschool.co.uk

Our First Summer in Sweden-The Blog Returns :-)

Good morning!!!  So the loony trio have returned back to school in Sweden, full of smiles and giggles…..the little lady at the age of 9 heads into year 3, and her first proper start of the swedish school year, and the mini men start their förskola klass which is 5 mornings a week….I feel like I don’t whats hit me after nearly six years of 24/7 double trouble!

This dangerous few free hours every morning has allowed me to think, in which direction I wanted to head with my blog.  I have come to the conclusion that it will return, but on very different terms. My terms, not the numbers game terms of “getting you blog out there”, and everything associated with that.  Life here in Sweden, and our big move here to Sweden, was all about adopting their way of living, and their slower paced, more nature loving way of living.  I felt my work on the blog was contradicting this and I was drifting away from the original reasons I started it, and I do love writing it when the reasons for doing so are right.  The blog is supposed to be all about trying to inspire people to reach for your dreams, get outside in nature, and educating children outside the box.  So, with that in mind, I will now be posting just twice a week, on a Tuesday and Thursday.  However, over on instagram we are making full use of the insta stories function almost on a daily basis and doing daily “mini blogs” with our photos….so head over to https://www.instagram.com/mammasschool/to follow us on our one big Swedish adventure and see what we get up to.  The stories only stay on there for 24 hours. We will also still share our instagram photos over on the facebook page too, so you can follow there as well https://www.facebook.com/Mammas-School-1078629212158924/

We’ve had an amazing 10 weeks of summer holidays here in Sweden, exploring our new home.  We have camped, visited outdoor viking museums, had many boat trips around our archipelago (including one with a friend we have made on the island, in his own boat).  We’ve hiked loads, eaten lots of smokey fire pit food, geocached, hidden our own geocache, made LOTS of various fruit wines (and food), been to our first music festival, taken a trip up the west coast, finally managed to stop the ice cream van (those that visited and live here will know what a challenge that is), I’ve repainted our cabin (a whole new lesson and steep learning curve in maintaining wooden living areas), grown, foraged, and picked lots of food, and celebrated midsummer’s in great style!  We have been fortunate enough to see the coming and going of four sets of visitors too, and spent some really treasured times with these family and close friends.  We hope they will return again.  So, adieu until Tuesday, and I will leave you with “Our Summer in Photos”….enjoy 🙂

Goodbye For Now….

Over the last 15 months of writing this blog, life has changed dramatically for me and my little family.  The reason for starting the blog was to document our home schooling journey, that then became a following of our dreams journey, to now settling down to living abroad and embracing a new culture.  I have loved writing and I have loved having the blog, but in the last few weeks something has shifted.  Originally it was a diary to inspire others, but I’ve got caught up in the whole stats and numbers thing, and wanting to be read.  I think it stems from trying to get your blog “out there”.  There is so much competition and so much background work that needs to be done, I felt that I am always on the alert to make sure that a link up is made before the dead line, or the comments are submitted before closure.  There have also been a few personal things going on in the background too that make me feel I need to take a break and concentrate on my young family, instead of where the next post is coming from.  I hate being online, and yet if I don’t reply or comment on various platforms, algorithms ensure your material doesn’t appear…cruel but it is reality.  So I feel this is all dictating our days that are about living in the moment, and being immersed in the outdoors and nature….all a little bit of a contradiction and it’s been eating away at me.  So, I guess, what I am trying to say is, I am in no way clear aboutwhere I go from here, so over the summer I will take a break, and see how it affects our daily life.  In the meantime, I shall spend my daylight hours running after three very energetic children, exploring Sweden, and being company for my husband in the evenings!!  After the Swedish summer break is up (which starts mid June and finishes at the end of August), I shall decide whether I either missed it, or it just wasn’t for us 🙂  I will keep the https://www.instagram.com/mammasschool/ Instagram account going for now, that will tell the story of our journey in pictures, as I know a lot of my little lady’s friends will like to see what she’s up to..and hoping mine too 😉  xxxxxxxx

Ales Stones – A Megalithic Monument

The last stop on our day’s adventure to Skåne, was Ales Stones.  This is an acient monument that dates back to the Iron Age.  Ales Stones is made up of 59 huge stones, that are placed in a 67 metre long outline of a ship.  They are located in a beautiful setting, 32 metres above sea level, overlooking the Baltic Sea and Österlen’s hilly landscape.  The vista is amazing once you have completed the climb up to the monument.  It is Sweden’s best preserved ship tumulus and was built around 1400 years ago.

This was our last stop of a long and exciting day.  The children were tired, but it still did not stop them competing against each other to get to the top.  The weather was now starting to get very windy and more chilly, so I think they were spurred on by the need to keep warm!  The walk up was not too long, but very steep, and the views back down to the harbour as we climbed up were nothing short of stunning.  As is so often the case here in Sweden there was no charge for the privilege of seeing this wonderful piece of history, and no barriers either.  This meant that once we had reached the top, the children could touch, feel, and move in amongst the large boulders, really gaining a sense of perspective of how big it all was.  There are sheep and cattle grazing in amongst the monument too, adding a sense of calm and tranquillity to the area.  I realise perhaps these monuments in Sweden are not as busy as some back in the UK (I think we all know of a similar one I am referring to), but to not have to pay extortionate entry fees, and to be able to wander freely amongst the monument whilst respecting it, is a very lovely thing.

So what are Ales Stones?  Some think it is a burial monument, while others think they were an astronomical clock.  They are placed so that the sun sets on the northwestern stone in the summer, and the sunrises on the exact opposite stone in the winter.  They are erected in a ship formation (67m long and 19m wide at the widest point), and it is believed to originate from the early Iron Age (500-1000 AD).  The views from the top were also stunning, and very large!

It was such a lovely place to be, so it was a shame it felt like we were in a bit of a rush.  However, the wind was really picking up, and temperatures were starting to fall quite quickly, and the children were tired after a lovely, but long day in the outdoors and fresh air (not to mention a LOT of walking/running).  So we descended down with the eldest having to get a piggy back from Dadda, as a stumble made her shed tears of tiredness, and got back to the car.  We strapped everyone in, and started the 2.5 hour journey back home through the Swedish countryside.  It was very quiet from the trio, and Dadda and I were left to admire the Swedish landscape.  Another time, it would be nice to dawdle at the top, and then enjoy the fresh fish restaurants at the bottom, but I think that is more a summer experience!!

Ales Stones, Ales Stenar, Iron Age Sweden, Sweden Monument, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

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