Category: Outdoor Adventures (Page 1 of 8)

Allemansrätten – Our Impact On Nature & How To Minimise It

Allemansrätten is a unique Swedish concept, of the right of public access to roam freely almost anywhere in the countryside.  However, a few responsibilities come with this privilege.  We need to take care of nature and wildlife, respect landowners and others enjoying the countryside, respect the land and leave no trace that you have been there, and do not disturb and do not destroy.  It is a very rare concept, allowing you to enjoy the Swedish outdoors (which is important here in Sweden and I have written more about it http://mammasschool.co.uk/living-abroad/enjoying-outdoors-in-sweden-get/ ) in its full glory.  Despite not all countries having allemansrätten, there is still an impact of us enjoying activities such as camping, hiking, and cooking outdoors, so I want to discuss how we can minimise the impact and why.

Outdoor Cooking:

There is no doubt cooking outdoors on a campfire adds to the outdoor experience and memories, but it must be done safely and respectfully.

  1. Use fire pits where you can, or carry a light and portable stove with you.  Allemansrätten means we have the ability to cook on campfires on our outdoor expeditions. However, by using provided fire pits (we are lucky having a lot here in Sweden), or carrying your own stove, you are helping to protect the habitat of creatures in the area you have decided to cook in, plus reduced the risk of fire spreading. 
  2. You need to consider any fire dangers for the time of year (e.g is it very dry?) and bear in mind any local restrictions.  You don’t want to spread your fire.
  3. Take only wood from the ground, never from the trees, and gather it from a wide area.  You don’t want to remove everything from one small area as it has a job to perform in the ecosystem providing nutrients and habitats.
  4. Allow your wood to burn completely down to ash, and then spread them out when you are extinguishing your fire.
  5. Put out a fire with water not dirt,
  6. Avoid building your fire on rocks as it will scar them.  Also, if near coastal water that covers them after you’ve been and gone, when the water rapidly cools the rocks it may cause them to crack.
  7. Never leave your fire unattended, it is a fire risk and a hazard to any inquisitive animals.
  8. If you have moved any rocks, for example to make a bit of a wind break, make sure you return them to where they were.
  9. Make sure you take all your rubbish home again, to avoid harming animals and the countryside.

Pop over to my Outdoor Cooking category for some delicious outdoor recipes on my blog.

 

Hiking:

Hiking is good for us for so many different reasons.  Allemansrätten here means virtually nowhere is out of bounds.  I have written many times about the actual benefits of being in nature and the great outdoors .  So, I won’t go into detail about that here, but feel free to click on the links to read more 🙂  However, collectively enjoying the countryside means we will have an impact on the environment.  So here are some tips to help reduce that impact:

  1. Be polite and leave room for others.  Don’t take up the whole trail or path, so passers by are pushed off it.  People need to stick to them as much as possible…….
  2. Following on from my last point, trails are there for a reason, so use them.  It prevents us from trampling over the rest of the area and destroying vast quantities of the environment with our boots and feet.
  3. Be aware of wildlife, it is their home and they can be easily spooked.  Try and view them but not too close, give them some respect.  You don’t want to scare them as it could have disasterous consequences like mothers running off and leaving their young.
  4. Take all your rubbish home, EVERYTHING! Personal rubbish (I carry dog poop bags to clear up after us) as well as fruit peelings, and the usual more obvious rubbish clutter.  It can harm and injure animals, as well as look unsightly and harm the ecosystem.
  5. Don’t take anything…..only photos.  Each thing is part of a complicated ecosystem and has a function.
  6. Try and move quietly (we really struggle with this one!!).  You are going through someone’s home.
  7. Keep any pets you take with you on a lead.  It not only avoids them spooking the wildlife, but stops them veering off the trail too.

Wild Camping:

Allemansrätten means you can enjoy a “wild camping” experience.  We’ve enjoyed a wild camp , but you need to think carefully about how you go about it, and remember you are making a home in someone else’s home…you are a visitor.  Here are some tips to lessen your impact on their home:

  1. Avoid loud music and activities.
  2. Keep your group small.  Not only is it better for the environment, you’ll see and hear more too 🙂
  3. Try and leave any pets at home, but if they do come, keep them on a lead.
  4. Leave no trace you were ever there.  Tidy your campsite up after.  This not only means rubbish, but return nature to how it was…those boulders or rocks you moved to sleep more comfortably?  Pop them back.
  5. Bear in mind how you treat campfires or toileting activities as we have already mentioned above.
  6. Give animals space to use any natural water supply, especially early morning and evening.
  7. Do not leave any food out.  Not only does it attract animals (and some may be unwanted, especially for us living in Sweden), but it can also harm them.  Containers can injure, and some food can make them ill.
  8. Use biodegradable dish washing soap (or as we do, wipe them after a meal and save the proper washing up until you get home).  Spread any dish water out over a wide area.
  9. Only camp for a short time in any one place.

 

I hope you have found all these tips helpful as to how you can get into the great outdoors and enjoy it responsibly.  Do you think it’ll help you on your next trip out to be more considerate to the environment?  Comment below and let me know, especially if you think I have left something vital out 🙂

Allemansrätten, Our impact on nature and how to minimise it, allemansratten, every mans rights, Sweden, outdoors Sweden, impact on nature, hiking, camping, bushcraft, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

The Kelly Kettle – A User Guide

My Kelly Kettle and I are inseparable on our outdoor adventures.  We take it everywhere with us.  We enjoy it so much I thought I would give you a basic guide as to how you use it and then you can see if this is something you would like to give a go when out and about in the great outdoors.  The Kelly Kettle heats water very fast using what you find on the ground around you as fuel.  You can also get accessories that can turn it into a stove as well.  Plus, you can use the fire in the base for things such as toasting marshmallows without the stove accessory.  They are simple and fun to use, and a great way of introducing children into bush craft and the skill of lighting and being responsible for fires, as they are small and contained.  It is a great way for them to start learning their bush craft skills for the great outdoors.

Step By Step Guide To Using the Kelly Kettle:

  1. Fill your Kelly Kettle up with water, then set it to one side. 
  2. In the Kelly Kettle base add a small amount of newspaper, and some cotton wool with a little Vaseline on.  This helps ignite the fire a little easier. We carry a little fire starting kit of essentials with us, subscribe to the blog and see what is in our fire starting kit over on the  freebies tab. 
  3. Next add a little kindling.  We tend to collect this as we go along on our hike.  Our preference is small pieces of silver birch bark as they are highly flammable.  Just make sure you are picking it up from the ground (not pulled off the trees), and that it is dry.  Very small, thin, dry twigs work too. 
  4. Then light the cotton wool.  We use a fire steel.  This is 2 pieces of metal, which when struck together produce a spark which will nicely ignite the cotton wool.  We use this as it is generally functioning in most weather conditions, particularly wind and rain!  You can use matches or other lighting contraptions of your choice.
  5. Place the Kelly Kettle on top once the fire is lit.
  6. Continue to slowly feed tinder into the kettle down the chimney (watching for the fire coming up!).  We use leaves, twigs, bark, fir cones, etc.  You get the idea, most things found on the ground are good as long as they are dry.  By far our favourite is the silver birch bark though as it catches so easily, is very thin, so burns well.  The idea is not to swamp the fire in the base though but add slowly to keep it burning. You can also blow through the side holes, if needed, to gently get any embers to catch fresh tinder too. 

The great thing about the Kelly Kettle is it also comes with accessories which can convert it into a stove (they don’t take up any more packing room as they store inside the kettle).  I was really lucky to get the hobo stove for Christmas, and although we love our fire pits, it means that if there isn’t one available en route, I can light our hobo stove and cook safely with it.  It is a great back up to have in the back pack.  I am much happier doing that than making my own fire on the ground.

The Kelly Kettles come in different sizes.  We have the trekker size Kelly Kettle, one of the smaller ones.  I boil it twice when the 5 of us go out, but it doesn’t take too long so I don’t mind.

Have you got a favourite piece of outdoor kit?  Let me know in the comments below and maybe I’ll need to add it to my wish list!!  Don’t forget to subscribe  to the blog and get access to freebies (eBook, recipes, top tips, and our fire starter kit contents).

The Kelly Kettle, A User Guide, Kelly Kettle, Hobo Stove, Bush craft, camping, hiking, outdoors, kettle, www.mammasschool.co.uk

A Children’s Outdoor Gift Guide – Gifts That Will Get Used

We are rapidly hurtling towards Christmas, so I have decided to put together a children’s outdoor gift guide to help give you some inspiration of great ideas for both presents under the tree, and some stocking fillers too 🙂  These are more practical gifts in this outdoor gift guide that the child (or grown up) can then use.

A Children’s Outdoor Gift Guide:

  1. Compass: These come in all shapes, sizes, and prices.  You can choose one to match your child’s age and ability to use it.  We have gone for a simple version to introduce ours to the concept to start with.  You can take a look at my post on learning how to use a compass for tips to get started with your little people.
  2. Binoculars:  These we purchased back in the UK from a well known toy shop (they were only £2.99, about 30sek), but have been absolutely fantastic and survived being flung around.  You don’t need to spend a fortune for them to function well.
  3. Daysack/Hiking  Backpack:  We looked high and low for our back packs for our trio.  For the twins it was a lot harder to find something a little larger (but not too large as they are still only 6), with a supportive front clasp, enough pockets for good accessibility of things, robust enough to withstand the Swedish wilderness, and with some extra padding/comfort for the hiking.  We eventually bought for our twins these backpacks from Elkline.  They are fantastic.  For our little lady we had a different issue….if we bought it for her size (a tall 9 year old), she would fill any left over space with “stuff” that would then make it too heavy to carry, so we needed to be a little cautious on size with her too.  It is a 22L backpack but with a good sturdy waist belt (that was a struggle to find one with that). It has a breathable back and comes with a rain cover attached.  It is designed for 11-15 year olds so should last her a while yet!
  4. Tin Mug:  For the ever so important, morale boosting hot drinks.  We have gone with these gorgeous Moomin mugs…all 5 of us 🙂  We adore the Moomins.
  5. Tinder Pouch:  We use a Kelly Kettle and love lighting campfires for our meals during our hikes.  These pouches allow us to collect any dry useful tinder and store it safely (and rather smartly) on our pre-campfire part of the hike.  Between 3 children and myself we should then have a fair amount….might as well put the children to use 😉
  6. Whistle:  It is debatable whether my three actually need one of these (they are sooooooo noisy), but just to be on the safe side, they have it in their back packs in case of getting lost.
  7. Spork:  My three think this is one of the funniest words ever.  I think it is one the handiest items to carry….the 2 in one function cutting back in what goes in those backpacks (very important when you are only 6 or 9 years old!).
  8. Camera:  My trio have all got VTech cameras.  While they are clunky and heavy (carrying a spork won’t balance this one out) they are very robust and my three love taking photos and recording their own memories on them.  Once they are older, you can upgrade to something a little more practical, and you don’t always have to take them out if the back pack is too heavy.
  9. Good base layers:  We need this here in the winter to keep warm, but usually hiking you can work up a sweat too.  A good base layer will wick this sweat away from your skin keeping you comfortable.  One less thing for them to moan about has to be a bonus right?!  Need help choosing a set?  Check out my review of Isbjörn of Sweden Husky base layer
  10. Outdoor Clothing:  Children need to be equipped for the outdoors as well as us adults are, and more again…their clothes need to be robust enough not only to withstand the elements, but also the added activities of tree climbing, crawling through mud, racing through brambles, and puddle jumping.  If you need some inspiration you can look at my reviews for Tiny Trolls of Norway Rain Gear  and Winter Gear
  11. Boots:  Again, they need to be equipped as well as us adults, but also bear in mind their little feet need extra protection as they are still growing.  The boots need extra practicality about them too for those huge puddles us grown ups avoid, but draw children to like magnets!
  12. Torch:  Always handy for when you are out in the dark, whether to find your route through some tough undergrowth, help you pack up after a campfire to ensure you’ve left nothing behind, or to help you find that lost item that got dropped in the dark (and probably shouldn’t have left the house anyway, but is the most favourite tiniest toy EVER!).  Oh and you can use the torch to signal for help 🙂
  13. Bug Pots:  There are always interesting things hiding along the trails.  My three carry a very small pot so we can take closer looks, and also it can give them something to do while you are cooking a meal.
  14. Sunglasses:  We ALWAYS have these with us.  Whether we need them to watch the sun rise or set, or the sun unexpectedly makes an appearance…as I said earlier, anything less for them to moan about has to be a bonus!!!

Let me know in the comments below if you can think of any other essentials for the outdoor gift guide, or perfect little gifts that you know will get utilised well, instead of forgotten about with the Christmas haul 🙂  I’d love to hear your thoughts (and maybe I’ll pinch them for our Santa!)

A Childrens outdoor gift guide, outdoor gifts, gift guide, christmas gifts, stocking fillers, outdoors, www.mammasschool.co.uk

A Sunrise Picnic – Don’t Wait Too Long To Watch One.

“There’s a sunrise and a sunset every single day, and they’re absolutely free. Don’t miss so many of them” – Jo Walton

The winter makes it a lot easier to watch a sunrise.  With it rising at the moment here in Sweden just before 0815, it is at quite a civil hour!  It allowed us more than enough time to wrap up warm against the freezing temperatures, grab our supplies for a breakfast picnic, and take a short hike to a little secluded cove – lovely to watch a sunrise with just us, but also on a Saturday morning we wouldn’t be waking anyone else up!

We have already seen many sunsets this winter (and they never fail to impress with their rainbow light shows), but not a sunrise together yet, or a sunrise picnic.  So, with the light just creeping into the day we did a 30 minute walk through the woods to find our secluded little cove.  The children set about playing with the ice, frost, and frozen sand, while I took charge of getting the Kelly Kettle going, and Dadda took charge of making a fire (so nice to split the chores for once and have him out with us too).  I had made apple and cinnamon porridge to eat from our food flasks, but we could have hot drinks and keep a little warmer with a fire lit.  We could also then toast marshmallows for a breakfast dessert.

We ended up staying for around 2 hours, just being together and connecting as a full family and enjoying the moment.  The children were happy playing, Dadda and I were happy chatting sitting on our rapidly freezing backsides, and the day had a really tranquil calm start to it – one of the best things in a hectic and loud large family life.  I have to say it was totally worth packing up the night before, wrapping up warm, and a mini hike through the dark woods to do it, and I thoroughly recommend this to anyone.  This is the second year running we have to done this, and I hope to do it for many more years.  We did it last year and it was lovely, but about 10 degrees colder!!

I have written a lot in the past about the benefits of getting getting outdoorsnature therapy, and nature play and you can click the links and have a read.  However, there are benefits to specifically watching a sunrise.

9 Benefits to Watching the Sunrise:

  1. It is a calm and peaceful way to start the day together.  It makes for generally happier moods all round and a better day.
  2. It is connection time together.
  3. It is physically good for our bodies providing melanin and vitamin D (especially good in the winter with the shorter days).
  4. We stop for a minute and intentionally notice the beauty surrounding us and appreciate it.
  5. We become more aware of our environment and surroundings.  It instils a sense of wanting to nurture it, and for our little people helps them foster a love of it.
  6. It teaches us and our children to live in the moment and enjoy the simple things in life.
  7. Certainly for my three it instilled a sense of adventure and awe.
  8. For everyone it provides memories that will be cherished.

This is a really easy mini adventure that I think all children should experience every so often as part of their immersion in nature.  So do you think you would do it?  With or without a picnic, set out to watch a sunrise one morning this winter?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

A sunrise picnic - don't wait too long to watch one, sunrise, sun rise, sunrises, nature, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

Country Kids
 

Renovation Bay-Bee

Our Winter Bucket List – Embrace Winter!!

At the start of the autumn, we wrote our first ever seasonal bucket list (Our Autumn Bucket List), and it’s been great for ideas and inspiration to enjoy the autumn together.  So now we have put together our winter bucket list.  Each one of us did our own lists in our nature journals, and then we merged them together in one giant list….so what have we put on there?

Our Winter Bucket List:

  1. Have a home made nutella hot chocolate with whippy cream and marshmallows.
  2. Make a snowman…
  3. And knock it down again.
  4. Make a big pile of snow and jump in it.
  5. Make a warm apple pie.
  6. Decorate our (children) bedrooms for Christmas.
  7. Make a snow den.
  8. Put up the Christmas decorations.
  9. Clean the garden with snow (??? that one came from twin 2!).
  10. Make a gingerbread house.
  11. Make a Christmas candle holder.
  12. Go sledging.
  13. Make a snow bear.
  14. Make a snow mouse.
  15. Make a huge snowball and climb on top of it.
  16. Make a snow tunnel.
  17. Throw snowballs.
  18. Make a snow castle.
  19. Make an ice house.
  20. Go ice skating.
  21. Watch The Polar Express movie.
  22. Drink mulled wine (me!!!).
  23. Go for a walk to look at all the outdoor lights.
  24. Listen to Christmas music. 
  25. Buy candy canes.
  26. Make ginger biscuits.
  27. Read Christmas stories by the fire.
  28. Have an advent calendar.
  29. Go to a Christmas market.
  30. Craft with glitter.
  31. Have a sunrise picnic (the time is more sociable now as it rises after 8am and continues to get later!!!).

As you can see, a lot of the list depends on the fluffy white stuff making an appearance, so we are crossing everything that is does now!  What would be on your Winter bucket list?  Let me know in the comments below and maybe we’ll be adding more to our list 🙂

Winter bucket list - Embrace winter, winter, winter fun, winter activities, snow fun, snow activities, winter outdoor fun, outdoor fun, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

 

 

Burnished Chaos
Sticky Mud and Belly Laughs
3 Little Buttons

15 Reasons Why Nature Play is Good For Children

Nature play is the best way of helping our children to develop well physically, emotionally, and socially.  It’s got all bases covered!  I’ve come up with a few reasons as to why nature play is good for our children, and I hope by the end, you’ll be be grabbing your wellies and heading out into the great outdoors together 🙂

1. Nature has a very calming quality.  It is known to decrease stress, and increase happiness.  It is food for our minds.  This is because it doesn’t place any demands on us, but it is still engaging.  It is a must for our mental health and well being.

2. The natural exposure to light increases our vitamin D levels, which in turn improves our health.  It’s vitally important here in Sweden, in winter, that play outdoors in nature continues as the light times of the day are so short!  This means, at school, they are outdoors in almost any weather 🙂

3.  Nature play is full of “loose parts”.  These are things the children can play with that have no predetermined role.  This allows children’s imaginations and creativity to be used and called upon.  They can build, role play, make art, or use things as writing tools.  There are no predefined limits.  They also don’t become bored so fast, as with toys that have a predetermined role.

4.  Children’s strength and muscle tone are improved as they lift, shift, climb, and move about in nature.

5.  Nature play allows children to get dirty and “hands on” with nature.  Research has shown that this exposure to dirt helps increase their immunity (there is more to come on this in a future blog post).

6.  They are allowed to explore and investigate the environment, which leads to stimulation, awareness, and independence.

7.  Playing outdoors in nature increases the physical effort used, therefore promoting a healthier way of living and physically fitter children.

8.  They will use a wide range of skills, utilising both large and small motor skills – good for development again.

9.  Immersing the children in nature in such a positive way, helps nuture a love of nature.

10.  Being in nature so much, and developing a bond with it is also good for nature.  They will grow up wanting to protect it, respect it, and nurture it more having been immersed in it.  This in turn will help to conserve it more.

11.  Being outdoors in nature helps teach the children to enjoy the simple things in life, and to live in the present moment.  It does this whilst also instilling a sense of awe and adventure.

12.  Nature play naturally lends itself to more risk taking due to the environment the children are in.  We are in danger of raising a risk averse generation, and this will have further consequences when they are older.  By taking risks, they are learning to manage and control risks, and learn about risk management.  Otherwise they will not take risks and then will be unable to manage risks, or control them.  Their development suffers when they are not allowed to take risks as children need it, crave it, and are natural risk takers.

13.  Playing outdoors in nature increases communication skills and negotiating skills.  They are able to work together better, enhancing these skills which are another important part of their development.

14.  This environment also helps their problem solving skills more, due to the diversity of obstacles and options.

15.  Nature play is much healthier for our children, making them happier, which in turn, naturally leads to happier parents too 🙂

Nature play benefits, outdoor play, nature, children, www.mammasschool.co.uk

3 Little Buttons

Hiking with Kids and Tips for Surviving It!

Hiking with kids is exhausting, but mainly in the run up to it. Once you get out there with your little tribe, it is so worth all the effort to get your family ready to hit the trails 🙂 I know only too well the effort it takes getting small people ready to go outside, especially during a Swedish winter.  I have a blog post dedicated to the whys and wherefores, joys and frustrations over at this link http://mammasschool.co.uk/parenting/we-are-going-out-in-quite-a-while/ Today I want to talk more about why it is so good for families to get out there and go hiking with kids, and offer some handy tips for making it more enjoyable.  In the future I will be writing more about how we prepare and the logistics of what we take.  First off, as the parent, you need to stay motivated and focus on the end goal of getting out there, knowing that everyone will be happier, have a great adventure together, and be immersed in nature.  To motivate everyone else through that door you need to be motivated!  I also try and let my trio experience a range of weather conditions (within reason!).  I am careful not to make hiking a sunny day only activity, as with the right clothing, fun can be had in most weathers.  Want to know about why it is so good hiking with kids and tips to make it great for everyone?  Read on……

Why Go Hiking with Kids?

  1.  They need to be in the great outdoors.  It is good for their development, self esteem, and makes them healthier.
  2. They need exposure to nature and wildlife.  Their enjoyment of nature will help protect it in the future.  If they have experienced it and been immersed in it, they are more likely to want to nurture and conserve it in future…you are investing in nature’s future as well as your child’s.
  3. They are learning new skills…they climb, they run, they negotiate together, they learn to take risks more and manage those risks, as well as learning skills such as looking after themselves in the great outdoors, some basic survival skills, using a compass, and using a map.
  4. They are exercising!  Need I say more 🙂
  5. Out on a hike, everyone can truly unplug, leave screens and technology behind, forget about jobs in the home, and it gives an opportunity to reconnect together as a family.
  6. Hiking is known to be a stress buster, therefore increasing happiness and decreasing stress.

Tips to Survive Hiking with Kids.

  1.  Make sure you are carrying secret, emergency bribes.  Tired little legs sometimes need encouragement of the sweet variety.  It boosts morale, provides a little energy boost and you are good to go a little further.  Some days you may not need them, but keep them with you at all times!
  2. Take some props.  Our favourites are compasses, torches (winter), binoculars, bug pots, and cameras.  This in turn can lead to little tasks to help them along the trail’s way….we also like looking for tracks, especially in the winter snow.
  3. Plan the hike a little around food and play.  When I take my three trolls out, we hike a while, then I plan at least an hour, more like a 1.5-2 hour stop, then hike a little more.  During that stop they play and I cook.  They climb, adventure, explore, paddle or anything else that takes their fancy.  I get a fire going and we all get hot morale boosting food.  They will tackle the second stage of the hike with renewed enthusiasm even though they’ve still been expending energy throughout the break.
  4. Pitch your hike at their level…the distance to be covered, the weather conditions, the terrain.  However, feel free to stretch them a little bit.  Just get the balance right.
  5. Have little games up your sleeve to play….I don’t mean card or board games…I mean little games using nature while you are walking.  Or suggest a small stop to pick berries that can then be munched on route.
  6. Allow time, lots of it, and more again.  There is nothing worse than trying to hurry children along, they naturally get slower doing that.  They need to go at their pace, and not just their walking pace.  Their pace of life….looking, experiencing, collecting things all along the way.
  7. Take lots of food, and lots of water to make sure you are not caught short with the essentials.  These 2 things can alter a child’s mood substantially when the going gets tiring!

If you like the idea of hiking with your children and as a family, there are lots of hiking websites out there for inspiration and advice.  I like looking at https://highpeakshiking.com it’s a great site for the hiking community to share experiences, tips, and inspiration 🙂  I enjoy just browsing through and getting ideas or being a little nosy!  So go on, get planning your adventure!

Hiking with Kids and tips for surviving it, hiking children, outdoors, nature, children outdoors, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

Country Kids
 

 

Burnished Chaos
3 Little Buttons
Hot Pink Wellingtons
Twin Mummy and Daddy

Our Autumn Bucket List – Getting Cosy In Autumn

I love all the seasons, and I am not sure I favour one more than the others.  However, when the seasons start changing and moving on, I am always ready for a change and love what the next one might bring – especially now that we live somewhere that has four distinct seasons!  So, now that autumn is well and truly here, we have spent the afternoon leaf rubbing in our nature journals as the background decor to our autumn bucket list – a list of everything that we would like to do during this season.  We’ve then made one giant list incorporating everyone’s little lists, so we can tick them off as we go.

Our Autumn bucket list ended up consisting of 34 things, and here they are:

1. Have a leaf fight

2. Catch falling leaves

3. Paint leaves

4. Kick leaves

5. Play with toys by the fire

6. Have a proper hot chocolate – with chocolate spoons, cream, and marshmallows

7. Eat warm kanelbullar (cinnamon buns)

8. Look for conkers

9. Roast pumpkin seeds

10. Roast chestnuts

11. Do nature art with leaves

12. Have a cosy afternoon in the library

13. Enjoy a season-scented bubble bath

14. Enjoy a season-scented candle

15. Sunset picnic

16. Sunrise picnic

17. Bake with apples

18. Bake with ginger

19. Carve a pumpkin

20. Count the leaf colours on a walk

21. Jump in leaves

22. Light indoor fires

23. Cosy on the sofa with stories and blankets

24. Watch a cosy autumn movie

25. Have the whole family toast marshmallows

26. Make a leaf caterpillar

27. Throw leaves

28. Autumn Camping

29. Autumn walk

30. Collect leaves

31. Make blackberry jam

32. Apple experiment

33. Sloeberry experiment

You may well be intrigued by a few of the things on the bucket list…I am!  But I guess that’s what you get when you ask two 5 year olds, one 9 year old, and a 41 year old what they would like to do this autumn 🙂

Our autumn bucket list, autumn, things to do in autumn, cosy autumn, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

Burnished Chaos

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

 

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.

Other Benefits To Playing with sticks:

  1. It teaches the children personal space and awareness.
  2. It allows them to build strength and muscle (some of them are quite heavy that they shift around).
  3. It allows them to get dirty and “hands on” with nature, helping to build their immunity (a discussion for another day!).
  4. They are allowed to explore their own environment and work out what takes on which role.
  5. It increases stimulation and awareness for the child.
  6. They are using both large and small motor skills.
  7. 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

 

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