Category: Parenting (Page 1 of 5)

Free Play – Children Need It To Thrive

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning, but to children play is serious learning.  Play is really the work of childhood.” (Fred Rogers)

Free play is something that we prioritise for our children, and we find very important.  We find it re-centres our three, and allows them to “just be”.  Children these days have a lot of structure in their lives.  There is structure during the school day, there are after school activities, and there are a lot of screens to be used.  Add that in together with an increased reluctance to allow our children to take risks and decreased time for unrestricted outdoor play , free play is in danger of becoming a lost activity for our children.  This post discusses what free play is, why it is important, and how we can help as parents, or people looking after children, to provide opportunities for it to happen.  

An impromptu tea party for a dog who can’t escape her play with his broken leg 🙂

What Is Free Play?

Free play is totally unstructured and a fully child initiated form of play.  This child led experience is a spontaneous activity born out of an interest, curiosity, or enthusiasm about something they want to pursue further.  Their imaginations take them wherever they want to go, with lots of motivation and learning along the way.  It is a simple form of play that does not require complicated gadgets or electronic toys, just whatever is to hand, whether that be a stick or a doll.

While I cook our sunrise breakfast, the children are “catching fish” for theirs, with a spontaneous game of “fishermen”. No toys, just good old sticks

Why Do Children Need Free Play?

  1. Free play leads to increased enthusiasm and motivation as they are following their own interests and curiosity, rather than something predetermined by an adult.
  2. It is a very important learning method through self discovery.

    They decided to build a den on hike one day while I cooked lunch

  3. It decreases anxiety and stress:  Fight or flight pathways are activated during play (same pathways that are activated by stress), so they get exposed to stress but in a positive way.  This in turn makes them less responsive to stress and they can regulate it more effectively.
  4. It helps develop social and emotional connections

    Collecting the dead roses I was cutting and the fallen petals, led to an important game of potion making here

  5. It increases a child’s resilience.
  6. Teaches the child good negotiation skills if the play involves other children.

    Being allowed to play on a beach in winter led to experimenting with dam building and redirecting water

  7. Following on from the negotiation skills, it can then teach them to compromise and adapt.
  8. It uses their imaginations and leads to increased creativity.

    They have built a pretend fire in the garden to toast marshmallows on

  9. Due to using their own initiative, it helps improve problem solving skills.
  10. It increases their confidence as they engage in new experiences.

    Looking for crabs on the beach


How Can We Provide Free Play Opportunities?

  1. Fancy dress boxes:  You needn’t spend a fortune on outfits.  Mine have collected a few over the years, but a lot of their outfits are old bridesmaid dresses, dance costumes of mine, or old hats, scarves, and shoes.  They love dressing up and then making up a scenario to go with it.
  2. Have less toys with electronic functions, or predetermined functions, but instead allow more for the child’s imagination to take over.

    Crushing chalk and mixing with water was the play going on here, which started originally as drawing with the outdoor chalk

  3. Less parental intervention or suggestions, less coached activities, and less screen time.
  4. Provide protected time for free play to actually happen.  If it has been a hectic week with commitments, scale down the scheduled activities and let them play.

    They made their own see-saw

  5. Take them to outdoor spaces, and then allow them time to have free play in that environment.  For example, on beaches or in woods.  Sit and watch the play take over when you give them the time.  If you don’t walk as far that day in the woods because a “campfire” needs to be made or a den built, or a river-let of water “fished” in, come back another day.  They will have learnt more from having the time to play rather than being moved on because a trail needed to be walked.
  6. If you are taking a circular walk, allow more time than needed.  This then allows them time to investigate and play with chunks of ice, or admire a ladybird.

    Investigating the ice on a hike

  7. At home, leave craft supplies out, and see where their creativity leads them into with what is left out.
  8. At play parks allow them to determine how to use the equipment.  If the game involves walking up the slide (as long as no one wants to come down) it isn’t harming anyone.  As adults we think we know how equipment should be used, but stand back and let the professionals show you 🙂
  9. Allow for boredom…..don’t fill it in!

Making a planet for their dinosaurs

When we take them to the library, we try not to make it rushed, allowing them time in there too.

I hope you have enjoyed finding out about the benefits of free play and ways in which we as the grown ups can make this happen.  There are benefits for us as well… is slower.  There are less scheduled commitments, we feel less like a taxi driver, pulled in multiple directions, and there is less stress in our daily living due to being less busy 🙂  It is a win for everyone!

Free Play - Children Need It To Thrive, Free play, play, unstructured play,


Get Your Vitamin N – March Outdoor Activity List

Last month, I started uploading a monthly outdoor activity list which you can access under the freebies tab (with the password you get sent after subscribing to the blog).  It is now time to think about the March outdoor activity list, which can now be accessed under the freebies tab 🙂    If you don’t have the password, don’t worry, subscribe to the blog and you will be sent it in your confirmation email. 

Any form of getting children into the outdoors is a good one.  Whether it is a gentle potter around the back garden, a good old hike for older ones across the countryside, if it is for 5 minutes or 5 hours, the benefits can still be reaped.  As the author Richard Louv famously suggests, we should be using vitamin N (N for nature) as treatment for nature deficit disorder. 

That is why each month, at the start of the month, I will add onto the freebies page, a monthly list of 10 activities to help inspire you to head out there for your dose of vitamin N with your little, or not so little, people.  These are some of the things I do with my three to give me some direction and an aim for getting them out there, which often helps everyone’s frame of mind.  So head over now to the freebies tab and check out the March outdoor activity list.

The aim behind the ideas for the March outdoor activity list for getting vitamin N is that they are all very simple, so shouldn’t put you off. And if you need a little more convincing about the ideas where mud is involved, head over and have a read as to why mud and dirt are worth all the extra effort 🙂  Vitamin N can be achieved without sitting in the middle of a forest, wild camping, and hunting for your supper!!  It can be achieved by just stepping outside your front door (or back door), into whatever awaits you out there.

I am hoping through these activities that you make a lot of happy memories, have fun together, and enjoy being outside.  If you need more information about an activity, I have blogged about doing most of them, so if you type in a few keywords in the search box, you should then be able to get some more information, or see what we have done in the past.

Let me know how you get on in the comments below for each month, I will love hearing about your experiences.  You can also share your experiences on social media too, it will give others ideas and I can keep up with what you are all doing.  Use the #fridayoutdoorfun on your instagram  photos, and don’t forget to join in with our Friday outdoor fun thread (every Friday). And if the children have got mucky, then join in with our Mucky Mondays thread (every Monday) over on Facebook .  Go and have fun in March 🙂Get Your Vitamin N - March outdoor activity list, outdoors, outdoor fun, outdoor activities, spring fun, vitamin N,

Our Spring Bucket List – Enjoy The Colours Of Spring

It is the start of a new season, and time for us to reveal our Spring Bucket List.  We have enjoyed doing the activities on our autumn and  winter ones, but we are looking forward to feeling a little warmth from the sun, feeling the temperature creep above freezing, and embracing the riot of colour that comes with spring.  Although as I write this, just a few days away from March, we are still firmly in the below zero temperatures and with snow both on the ground and falling from the sky.  It is hard to believe anything will grow in the near future!  So let’s see what’s on our list for the season of spring.

Our Spring Bucket List

  1. Catch some falling blossom
  2. Feed some young farm animals
  3. Make a bird feeder
  4. Make seed bombs
  5. Bird watch
  6. Blow dandelion bubbles
  7. Make an Easter bonnet
  8. Do some spring craft
  9. Make some Easter chocolates
  10. Make dandelion cookies
  11. Make Easter nests
  12. Climb a tree
  13. Make Easter biscuits
  14. Visit a pond and do some pond dipping
  15. Blow bubbles and try to catch them
  16. Blow the heads off dandelions and make a wish
  17. Fly a kite
  18. Make a bird house
  19. Make a fairy garden
  20. Do flower pounding
  21. Go on a nature hunt
  22. Make a flower press
  23. Press flowers and make something with them
  24. Celebrate the arrival of spring ( Valborg)
  25. Go on an Easter egg hunt
  26. Make a bug house or mini beast hotel
  27. Make a den
  28. Paint egg shells for Easter
  29. Dance in the rain

We can add one more rather fun one for the country we live in (Sweden), and that is watching the cows being let out of their barn for the first time after the winter.  It is a big event here 🙂

I hope we have given you some fun spring inspiration with our spring bucket list (just click on the links if you need further help or information about them) and let me know if you try any of them and how you get on.Spring Bucket List - Enjoy The Colours Of Spring, Spring, Spring craft, Easter, Spring activities, Spring fun, Spring kids,



Renovation Bay-Bee

Get Your Dose Of Vitamin N – Monthly Outdoor Activity Lists

Any form of getting children into the outdoors is a good one.  Whether it is a gentle potter around the back garden, a good old hike for older ones across the countryside, if it is for 5 minutes or 5 hours, the benefits can still be reaped.  As the author Richard Louv famously suggests, we should be using vitamin N (N for nature) as treatment for nature deficit disorder. 

However, we also know that, especially during these darker, damper, winter months, it can be extremely hard to drum up the enthusiasm to head outdoors and do everything that getting out there entails. I will be the first to admit it is blooming hard work convincing three small people that they really do want to go out, and then shoehorning them into various weather proof outfits.  That is why each month, at the start of the month, I will add onto the freebies page, a monthly list of 10 activities you can do to help inspire you to head out there for your dose of vitamin N with your little, or not so little, people.  These are some of the things I do with my three to give me some direction and an aim for getting them out there, which often helps everyone’s frame of mind.

The aim behind the ideas for getting vitamin N is that they are all very simple so shouldn’t put you off, and if you need a little more convincing about the ideas where mud is involved head over and have a read as to why mud and dirt are worth all the extra effort 🙂  Vitamin N can be achieved without sitting in the middle of a forest, wild camping, and hunting for your supper!!  It can be achieved by just stepping outside your front door (or back door), onto whatever awaits you out there.

I hope through these activities you make a lot of happy memories, have fun together, and enjoy being outside.  If you need more information about an activity, I have blogged about doing most of them, so if you type in a few keywords in the search box, you should then be able to get some more information, or see what we have done in the past.

Let me know how you get on in the comments below for each month, I will love hearing about your experiences.  You can also share your experiences on social media too, it will give others ideas and I can keep up with what you are all doing.  Use the #fridayoutdoorfun on your instagram  photos, and don’t forget to join in with our Friday outdoor fun thread (every Friday). And if the children have got mucky, then join in with our Mucky Mondays thread (every Monday) over on Facebook .

Photo credit Tom Pitman Photography

Just subscribe to the blog and you will receive an email with the password for the freebies page, and then you are all set to access every month’s new ideas by clicking on the month’s thumbnail in the freebies tab.  Have fun!!!

Get Your Dose Of Vitamin N, Vitamin Nature, Nature, outdoors, February Outdoor Activities,

Outdoor Play – 15 Tips To Encourage Outdoor Play

I will be the first to admit there are definitely days when I would rather hibernate from the Swedish weather battering our island, or I am just too tired to tackle the issues that arise with dressing three small children for the elements (talking more about winters than summers here, and you can read a previous post here about those trials and tribulations).  However, outdoor play is something that all children need, and to be honest mine are easier to handle after using their energy up in the great outdoors, and we generally have a better day together as well.  This post is to give you some top tips on making getting out there a little bit easier for everyone, and more enticing for our little people.  This post is not to promote the benefits of outdoor play, but you could read these other posts I have written about the benefits nature play  and outdoor play.

15 Tips To Encourage Outdoor Play:

  1. Have basic things in your outside space to encourage play.  Water tables (mine even love just playing with a watering can that has filled with rain water), sand pits, and simple mud kitchens are all easy ideas.  For our mud kitchen we have an old table, some old pans, and some old spoons.  It’s not had any money spent on it, and they use the surrounding nature mixed with water the rain has collected in various places.  Also having basic tools is good such as little trowels.  
  2. Take the indoors outside.  In better weather (I’m all for limiting the clear up operation!) allow indoor toys in the outdoors.  Mine love making up small world imaginary games, such as hiding the dinosaurs in the bushes etc
  3. Invest in a basic night time star chart (the National Trust do a fab night time explorers kit) and go out looking for the star constellations.  This is a really good activity in the winter months when it gets dark so early, but you may not want to be cooped up inside for the rest of the day.
  4. Dress them appropriately, as if they get wet/cold they will not want to stay out in the colder weather, and also you’ll be faced with a pile of washing.  Weatherproof them from head to toe throughout the cooler months and you will be more relaxed about them wading and splashing through the deepest of puddles.  In the warmer months, use old clothes and try not to let them see how much the dirt issue is getting to you, or show you are thinking about the clear up operation!  (read here why it is good for them).  This, along with leaping around climbing trees, is one of the hardest things I find to bite my tongue about…
  5. Don’t let the little people hear you voice the weather conditions as an excuse for not doing outdoor play.  I would often rather stay indoors in the poorer weather, but until us adults start being negative about it, the children don’t have so much of an issue.  They will pick up on our vibes though and will learn habits of avoiding weather such as rain.  It is hard, but dig deep for that enthusiasm for a good old splash about.
  6. Get them into any nearby open spaces, and take their lead.  Don’t make suggestions or comments, just let them be and see what happens…..let the magic begin!
  7. Spotter books are a great accessory to outdoor play.  They can be for beaches, gardens, woods, the list is endless.  It can give some direction when enthusiasm from both sides is low, a focus and a talking point.  In the poorer weather we take a look at ours, head outdoors without them, and fill them in after with what we have spotted.
  8. Let them use what nature provides for their outdoor play.  Let them climb trees, play with sticks, take risks, and have a fantastic game of hide and seek.  Nature provides great props for outdoor play.
  9. Explore different outdoor areas as they all offer something different in terms of exploring and having fun.  Get out into woods, meadows, around ponds or lakes, and seasides.  Play parks are great too, and if they want to walk up the slide, let them (as long as it isn’t interrupting someone else’s play coming down!).  Let them use their imagination as to how the equipment should be used….you will be surprised with what they come up with, as well as the skills they are developing.
  10. A basic bug kit will keep little people amused for hours.  They can explore the undergrowth and lift stones and sticks and see what they can find.  Just remember to return the mini beasts back to their homes where you found them!
  11. Give them a little bit of responsibility in your home’s outdoor space.  Whether this is a small patch of soil they can plant and grow things in, or making a habitat such as a mini beast hotel, or even making a mini garden pond (see our post on this). My trio really loved potting the spring seeds 🙂 Children really thrive on being given something that is their own responsibility. 
  12. Make it a habit.  If you have a day less full of commitments than other days, make that your “outdoor adventure day”.  Fridays work well for us as all the children have finished school by around midday.  I realise this is not the case in the UK, but then we avoid Saturdays full of swim classes, and we can squeeze another one in on a Sunday if we want to.  But by heading out every Friday, we have a designated outdoor adventure/explore time. And then for the rest of the week we just squeeze in mini outdoor sessions, that are not so long or ambitious.
  13. Don’t interrupt the children (unless you need to go home or they are in danger!!).  Let them get on with it.  Make sure you have packed the thermos, listen to the play, and let nature and being outdoors work its magic on you too.
  14. Make it a social occasion.  We usually try and have some food, but apart from packing a picnic, you could take an afternoon snack and drink.  You don’t need to whip up a whole gourmet meal on a camp fire.  A thermos of hot chocolate and a snack will add just as much to the outdoor adventure.
  15. Arrange to meet others.  You are more likely to keep to your plans if you are meeting others out and about as well.

There has been many a time when I have not felt that I had the energy to bundle three children up and get them outdoors, but once we have been out and returned I never think that I wished I hadn’t bothered.  I feel refreshed from the time outdoors, they need me less, and I seem to get a bit of a break to enjoy just being and watching them.  There are less arguments, and when we get back home they seem to settle better into play indoors as well.  I brace my self for the initial moans and groans of getting out the door, but then they never want to come back once out!

I hope these tips give you some ideas and help you to get you little people outdoors to play.  Drop any more ideas I have missed into the comments below 🙂

Outdoor Play, 15 tips to encourage outdoor play, nature play, children outdoors, get outside,

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,


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,

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,




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,

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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,

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