Category: Parenting (Page 1 of 5)

Expat Grief – The Ugly Side To Moving Abroad

I recently did an article on top tips to help children moving abroad.  That post was designed to help them settle in and make the move a smoother experience for them.  However, even if you follow all of these and more, you are likely at some point, for someone in the family to experience expat grief – the mourning of the loss of their old life.  For the adults who made the decision to move it may happen to them as well, but in this post I want to talk about the children, who moved because of their parents’ decision.  It is a scary and traumatic life changing event for any child. But generally, the older the child, the more they stand to lose, as the more they have built their little lives up where you were originally living.

What Is Expat Grief?

Expat grief is the mourning of the things you have lost by moving away from one country to another.  This might be friends, old homes, their hobbies, or family amongst other things.  Twin 1 desperately misses a certain play park we used to go to near where we lived.  It may be something totally unexpected and less obvious.  It is very important that these losses are worked through, and that time and energy is put into doing that, as and when it is needed.  From our experience with our eldest child, this doesn’t happen when there is a space free in the diary, it happens when you are up to your eyeballs in everything. But at that moment, the most important thing is to drop all the balls you are juggling and focus on that child grieving…be present right then.

Why Do Children Differ In Their Expat Grief?

Children manifest any grief in a different way from adults.  They live in the here and now, so while they play and laugh still, it would be easy to misinterpret that to mean that everything was rosy and the move had not provoked any emotional issues.  However, the sadness might still be there.  Their sadness is not as consistent as an adult’s, and we mustn’t forget it will still need handling sensitively and delicately even though it isn’t present and making its presence known all of the time.

Tips To Help A Child With Expat Grief:

  1. Recognise that they feel isolated in that moment.  Don’t say “but”, or try and remind them they have made new friends.  Their feelings of isolation are very real in that moment, and so trying to point out positives is not what is needed.  That is needed later, when they feel a little more positive, and then you can discuss what you do like about where you have moved to.
  2. Let them know they are not alone dealing with this, and that you are totally there with them 100% at that time (hence dropping everything for them there and then).  Be fully present with them.
  3. Tell them, that whatever feelings they are experiencing, whether anger, confusion, or sadness….(with our little lady at the moment she gets bouts of being very sad for her 2 best friends in the UK) that they are totally normal.  Don’t make light of their feelings or brush them under the carpet.  You need to be open and responsive to them.
  4. Be non-judgemental with your listening.  Be quiet and just LISTEN.  Don’t try and reason, justify, or explain. Just listen.
  5. Look for behaviours that flag up that your child is perhaps not coping as well as you thought.  This might be not wanting to do activities/hobbies they usually enjoy. They may be retreating away to their bedrooms and being less interactive with everyone else in the family. Or they may be suffering from mood swings that are unusual for them.
  6. When they are feeling a little bit better, and you have chatted about the losses that have happened, talk about the things that are not changing together.

It is so important not to leave expat grief unresolved or brush it under the carpet.  It will only rear its ugly head at a later date in the form of behavioural issues or emotional difficulties, or both.  Then as adults they may even suffer from difficulties connecting with others or depression.

I hope this post sheds some light on what your child/children may be going through after an international move (or even a move within the same country can have the same effects), and gives you some ideas of how to handle it.  Whilst I am not a psychologist or a counsellor, I am a Mamma that has three children that go through this in various ways or intensities.  I have felt the guilt all too strongly of taking them away from friends, family, much loved bedrooms, play parks, hobbies, and an area they loved when they hit a bout of sadness at their loss.  After all, I miss family and friends too, but at least it was mine and Dadda’s decision to move.  The children had very little say.  We have now been living in Sweden for over a year, but grief has no timeline and we are still coping with it and will be for a while.  Don’t get me wrong, they are very happy in between, but remember children live in the moment.  I can only hope that what we are doing when episodes do occur is helping our children to deal with their losses and come to terms with being an expat living in Sweden, and not giving them more issues to contend with as they grow into adults.

I would love to hear any comments or thoughts you have on this subject in the comments below.  Maybe you have made a move, international or otherwise, and you have some tips you can share on handling the grief when it arises.

Expat Grief - The Ugly Side of Moving Abroad, grief, expat grief, child grief, childhood grief, grieving child, 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

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

Get Outdoors! My Favourite 7 Books to Inspire

Do you need inspiration for things to do out there with your little people?  Or maybe just a bit of background information on why it is so important we have more outdoor families?  Here are my favourite 7 books to inspire and get us out there in the great outdoors more, especially with our little people 🙂

1. How to Raise a Wild Child – Scott Sampson

In this book you will find information as to why children need to be encouraged and supported in making a connection with nature.  He also provides tips and ideas on how to do this in today’s world that is both busy and high tech.

2. Vitamin N – Richard Louv

This is described as a “practical handbook” which will help families enjoy the natural world and the outdoors.  It works through ideas from babies to teens, and provides many ideas to help us get out there with children of all ages.

3. A Natural Sense of Wonder – Rick Van Roy

The author takes us along with him on his adventures with his own children.  As we go on the journey with him, he teaches us what nature has to teach us and why this is so important.

4. Unplugged – Jason Runkel Sperling

This book is all about families getting together and building nature clubs.  “15 steps to disconnect from technology and reconnect with nature, yourself, friends, and family”.  There are tips, tools, and tales all in these pages.

5. Last Child in the Woods – Richard Louv

This book describes “saving our children from nature-deficit disorder.  It goes through in depth why our children are suffering and missing out on what nature has to offer, and what the implications to both children and nature are because of this.

6. Balanced and Barefoot – Angela Hanscom

The author is a paediatric occupational therapist, and in her book she explains why natural and free play is essential for our children’s bodies and minds, and general development.  This is a very thought provoking read.  It also provides ideas as to how we can help them thrive.

7. A Little Bit of Dirt – Asia Citro

A fantastic book that has over 55 science and art activities to help children connect with nature.  They are simple, fun, and my trio adore doing them.  They are perfect for all ages (my three are 9 and 5), and prompt discovery and imagination.

Get Outdoors! My favourite books to inspire, Nature books, outdoor books, children outdoor book, children nature books, www.mammasschool.co.uk

Mud & Dirt Play – Good for the Body and Soul.

 

Mud and dirt play have all the benefits of outdoor play and nature play, but there are specific reasons as to why letting your children play in the mud and dirt are good for them.  Read on if you need a little convincing that all that cleaning afterwards is worthwhile!!

 

 

 

MEMORIES.

A lot of happy memories are made when play involves mud and dirt, and they remember these play times for a long time after.

FUN!

It is very rare that a child turns down an opportunity to get muddy and dirty, although mini man no.2 did used to be that child, so I know it isn’t for everyone.  However, even he, after watching his sister and twin brother, has now come to the conclusion that dirt play is huge fun (in the photo above he has painted his face with the stuff, when only a couple of years ago he wouldn’t have even touched it with his fingers!).  However, generally, children are drawn to dirt, and they enjoy playing with it, and it makes them happy.

IMMUNITY BOOST.

We are all too clean these days, which in turn has had a knock on effect of increasing illnesses and allergies.  Dirt play exposes children to a healthy dose of bugs, and has been shown to boost children’s immunity.

CREATIVITY.

Playing with mud and dirt are open ended….the possibilities are endless, they are not age defined, and it doesn’t have a predetermined role.  It utilises and exercises a child’s creativity and imagination.  It is amazing when it is used for art too.

REDUCES STRESS.

Playing with mud and dirt (alongside the benefits of nature and outdoor play as a whole) has proven to reduce stress and anxiety.

HAPPY!

It has been scientifically proven that dirt makes us happy!  Dirt has microscopic bacteria in (mycobacterium vaccae) that increases our serotonin level in our brains, making us happy and relaxed.  This can also improve our cognitive function…maybe pigs do have the right idea with all that rolling in mud!

There are ways we can encourage our children to get out there and get dirty by playing with mud.  I have a few tips and ideas.

  1. Make a mud kitchen area.  This doesn’t have to be complicated.  We have an old table full of pots and pans, utensils, jugs, and a water table next to it that collects rain water that can then be used to make culinary delights, or potions.
  2. Set aside a patch of dirt.  We have a patch of dirt where our trio can dig, scoop, and play in without fear of a slightly angry parent for digging up the lovely flowers 🙂
  3. Nature art.  We often head outdoors and use mud and dirt in our creations.  An example of this is you can make animals from mud, leaves, cones, sticks etc.  Making art with mud is great fun.
  4. Muddy puddle jumping. Go on a muddy puddle jumping walk.  There will be much shrieking, laughing, and splashing.
  5. Make dams/rivers. My trio love doing this and being able to watch the water change direction according what they are doing or building.Mud and Dirt Play, mud play, dirt play, outdoor play, nature play, dirt healthy, www.mammasschool.co.uk
Burnished Chaos
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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