Tag: outdoors

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
 

Valborg – The Welcoming of Spring.

So it was time for our next Swedish experience, Walpurgis Eve (in English), or Valborg (in Swedish), is the official welcoming of spring.  It is traditional to light fires, enjoy each others company, and sing songs together, and happens on the last day of April.   Officially, spring has arrived when the daily average temperature tops zero degrees Celsius for seven days in a row here in Sweden….a tough one recently with snow falling not so long ago, but large parts of the country are now managing to confirm this has happened….at last!  The Swedish are celebrating the end of the harsh winter (less harsh down here in the south, but still dark, cold, and long!), and looking forward to the summer sunshine….especially on our island where its nickname is Little Hawaii 🙂  This event is named after St. Walpurga (which is Valborg in Swedish), an English missionary who celebrated Christianity in other parts of Europe.  These days, it is more to do with spring than Christianity.  The King also happens to have his birthday on this day, but that is just a lovely coincidence. The larger cities take on more of an all day party feel, with students kicking off their day with champagne breakfasts, and the celebrations go from there.  There are some huge bonfires too in the larger cities, with lots of other traditions going on as well.  You may even be passed a warming hot cup of liquid as well……some lovely nettle soup as soon as the snow melts here they are springing up.  A sure sign spring has arrived.

So what did we get up to on our lovely little island we call home?  In the harbour at the North West part of the island, there was a larger community bonfire.  We set off on our bikes to experience this celebration for the first time at this location.  On the way, we saw many relaxing with barbecues or their own fires, in the early spring sunshine (fully dressed in hats and gloves still!), with the boat houses open for the first time I have seen.  It was so lovely to see the island alive after the long winter.  There are always people out walking/running/cycling around the island, but there was just a more relaxed vibe about tonight, and whilst it was still cold, people were happy to sit outdoors and enjoy their food, rather then hunkering down back indoors.  A true feeling that spring is finally coming.  We decided this year to feed our tribe earlier, and just turn up and see what happens.  Next year I think we too will be grilling sausages along with everyone else.  As it was, our 5 year old twins were nearly collapsed with tiredness once we got home at the grand time of 8pm!!

The fire was lit and everyone had a little sing song, and after that was over people got back to just chilling with their drinks and food, or started their grilling and relaxing with their friends.  People who were not cooking were already drifting away back to their cosy homes and we followed soon after with our tired trio.  But we had thoroughly enjoyed out first Valborg in our new home.

With the sun setting, and the smoking embers of the bonfire in the distance, voices could be heard happily chattering away , enjoying each other’s company and cooking outdoors.  As we cycled away it was like the island was on fire, there was so much smoke rising from it, from all the fires that had been lit in celebration.  I am thinking I really like this celebration and its cosy feel, and whilst I don’t wish my little people to grow up too fast, I am looking forward to when the smaller 2 are a little older and we too can chill with them and some drink and food, instead of pedalling back home for bedtime 🙂

Valborg - The Welcoming Of Spring, spring, start of spring, springtime www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

 

Country Kids

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