Monday, 9 May 2011


Welcome to the May Carnival of Natural Parenting: Growing in the Outdoors

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared how they encourage their children to connect with nature and dig in the dirt. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


Over on Code Name mama, there is a monthly carnival of natural parenting.

This months theme is about "Growing in the outdoors"

My daughter is now 10 and I wanted to share how the 'outdoors' has featured in our lives as a family.

For starters we live in a beautiful part of the world - what could be better than rural England? For all we complain about this green and pleasant land I wouldn't have it any other way.

Our home is surrounded by fields, trees, hills and there is even an idyllic stream - safe enough to paddle in.

As a baby we would take our daughter out in a sling wherever we went - so much easier and more practical than a buggy. It meant she was close to us which ensured her happiness and it gave us so much more freedom as parents.

One of our first walks was up our local hill to see the sunset. I have beautiful memories of that time when we would visit at around her bedtime and I'd nurse her to sleep while watching the sun go down.

As a toddler one of her first words was 'tatoes!' which she exclaimed as we dug into the earth searching for edible treasures. I remember her in a rain suit, steering her metal wheelbarrow in businesslike fashion with gusto along the paths grabbing all the potatoes she could find and happily eating them for tea.

As a pre-schooler she attended a Steiner kindergarten. Here the emphasis was on the seasons and outdoor play took place no matter what the weather. It concerns me that schools don't let children out when it's raining, close when it's snowing and don't let children climb trees in case they fall.

And talking of climbing trees, what better way to learn about your body? In our garden anything goes and DD has learned a lot about her body through climbing, falling, swinging and giggling her way through the giddying heights of tree tops.

Most of our homeschooling took place outdoors. Every day we'd go for a nature walk. We once did an entire term's project on the potato - it involved everything from sowing to tending to eating with a trip to the supermarket to compare quality and taste...

Often my daughter will climb the tree and have what she calls 'a moment'. It's a sacred time of bliss when something magical happens, when she totally connects with the Universe or converses with Mother Nature (the trees talk in our garden I'll have you know) and I've seen her cry with pleasure from it all.

Now she has an ipod (groan) and I admit I have to drag her outdoors sometimes, luring her away from the enticing Angry Birds, but invariably at the end of every day we use a walk through the country as a way to build bridges. The pre-teen years can be fraught with emotion, but this is our way of unwinding.

We visit horses, paddle in the stream, pick weeds for the rabbit and share things about our day. As she grows up and finds her independence, nature is a wonderful backdrop for us to reconnect and share some quality time as a family.

My daughter tells me she is going to live in a forest when she grows up, in a shall shed with lots of cats. So I think a love of nature is definitely still within her.

As for me, I find the pull of the outdoors gets stronger as I get older. As my life leads me more and more into the internet, my soul cries out for more connection with the Earth. My challenge at the moment is to balance both aspects of my life. I'd love to hear how you achieve this.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon May 10 with all the carnival links.)

  • Get Out!Momma Jorje gives reasons she doesn't think she gets outside enough and asks for your suggestions on making time for the outdoors.

  • How Does Your Garden Grow?The ArtsyMama shares her love of nature photography.

  • We Go Outside — Amy at Innate Wholeness describes her family's simple, experiential approach to encouraging appreciation of nature.

  • My Not-So-Green Thumb — Wolfmother confesses to her lack of gardening skills but expresses hope in learning alongside her son at Fabulous Mama Chronicles.

  • Enjoying Outdoors — Isil at Smiling like Sunshine describes how her children enjoy the nature.

  • Five Ideas to Encourage the Reluctant Junior Gardener — For the rare little ones who don't like to get their hands dirty, Dionna at Code Name: Mama offers tips for encouraging an early love of dirt (despite the mess).

  • Connecting to NatureMamapoekie shares how growing your own vegetable patch connects your child to nature and urges them to not take anything for granted.

  • The Farmer's Market Classroom — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction shares how the Farmer's Market has become her son's classroom.

  • Seeds — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment's hubby Ken shares his perspective on why gardening with their kiddos is so important . . . and enjoyable!

  • Toddlers in the Garden — Laura at A Pug in the Kitchen shares her excitement as she continues to introduce her toddler and new baby to the joys of fresh veggies, straight from the garden.

  • Nature's Weave — MJ at Wander Wonder Discover explains how nature weaves its way into our lives naturally, magnetically, experientially, and spiritually.

  • Becoming Green — Kristina at Hey Red celebrates and nurtures her daughter's blossoming love of the outdoors.

  • Little Gardener — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis looks forward to introducing her baby girl to gardening and exploring home grown foods for the first time.

  • Cultivating Abundance — You can never be poor if you have a garden! Lucy at Dreaming Aloud reflects on what she cultivates in her garden . . . and finds it's a lot more than seeds!

  • Growing in the Outdoors: Plants and People — Luschka at Diary of a First Child reflects on how she is growing while teaching her daughter to appreciate nature, the origins of food, and the many benefits of eating home-grown.

  • How Not to Grow — Anna at Wild Parenting discusses why growing vegetables fills her with fear.

  • A Garden Made of Straw — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares tips on making a straw bale garden.

  • The Tradition of Gardening — Carrie at Love Notes Mama reflects on the gifts that come with the tradition of gardening.

  • Gardening Smells Like Home — Bethy at Bounce Me to the Moon hopes that her son will associate home grown food and lovely flowers with home.

  • The New Normal — Patti at Jazzy Mama writes about how she hopes that growing vegetables in a big city will become totally normal for her children's generation.

  • Outside, With You — Amy at Anktangle writes a letter to her son, a snapshot of a moment in the garden together.

  • Farmer Boy — Abbie at Farmer's Daughter shares how her son Joshua helps to grow and raise their family's food.

  • Growing Kids in the Garden — Lisa at Granola Catholic shares easy ways to get your kids involved in the garden.

  • Growing Food Without a Garden — Don't have a garden? "You can still grow food!" says Mrs Green of Little Green Blog. Whatever the size of your plot, she shows you how.

  • Growing Things — Liz at Garden Variety Mama shares her reasons for gardening with her kids, even though she has no idea what she's doing.

  • MomentsUK Mummy Blogger explains how the great outdoors provides a backdrop for her family to reconnect.

  • Condo Kid Turns Composter and Plastic Police — Jessica from Cloth Diapering Mama has discovered that her young son is a true earth lover despite living in a condo with no land to call their own.

  • Gardening with Baby — Sheila at A Gift Universe shows us how her garden and her son are growing.

  • Why to Choose Your Local Farmer's MarketNaturally Nena shares why she believes it's important to teach our children the value of local farmers.

  • Unfolding into Nature — At Crunchy-Chewy Mama, Jessica Claire shares her desire to cultivate a reverence for nature through gardening, buying local food, and just looking out the window.

  • Urban Gardening with Kids — Lauren at Hobo Mama shares her strategies for urban gardening with kids — without a yard but with a whole lot of enthusiasm.

  • Mama Doesn't Garden — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life is glad her husband is there to instill the joys of gardening in their children, while all she has to do is sit back and eat homegrown tomato sandwiches.

  • Why We Make this Organic Garden Grow — Brenna at Almost All The Truth shares her reasons for gardening with her three small children.

  • 5 Ways to Help Your Baby Develop a Love of the Natural World — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama believes it's never too early to foster a love of the natural world in your little one.

  • April Showers Bring May PRODUCE — Erika at NaMammaSte discusses her plans for raising a little gardener.

  • Growing Outside — Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante discovers how to get her kids outside after weeks of spring rain.

  • Eating Healthier — Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey talks about how she learns to eat healthier and encourages her children to do the same.

  • The Beauty of Earth and Heavens — Inspired by Charlotte Mason, Erica at ChildOrganics discovers nature in her own front yard.

  • Seeing the Garden Through the Weeds — Amanda at Let's Take the Metro talks about the challenges of gardening with two small children.

  • Creating a Living Playhouse: Our Bean Teepee! — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings shares how her family creates a living playhouse "bean teepee" and includes tips of how to involve kids in gardening projects.

  • Grooming a Tree-Hugger: Introducing the Outdoors — Ana at Pandamoly shares some of her planned strategies for making this spring and summer memorable and productive for her pre-toddler in the Outdoors.

  • Sowing Seeds of Life and Love — Suzannah at ShoutLaughLove celebrates the simple joys of baby chicks, community gardening, and a semi-charmed country life.

  • Experiencing Nature and Growing Plants Outdoors Without a Garden — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares some of her favorite ways her family discovered to fully experience nature wherever they lived.

  • Garden Day — Melissa at The New Mommy Files is thankful to be part of community of families, some of whom can even garden!

  • Teaching Garden Ettiquette to the Locusts — Tashmica from Mother Flippin' (guest posting at Natural Parents Network) allows her children to ravage her garden every year in the hopes of teaching them a greater lesson about how to treat the world.


    1. Oh yes, this was beautiful. I love how you described the "moment". It is so true and I know exactly what your daughter means :). And though I have to agree that technology becomes a distraction, I think the foundation you have given her will always ground her, at least that is what I hope for my kids. (sometimes music intensifies my moments with nature too :)). And yes, I think the pull does get stronger as we get older :). As far as balance, I give myself a cut off time (by 10am)for the computer, though I admit my phone is always on me. Lovely lovely post :).

    2. That's beautiful that your daughter has had such a connection with nature her whole life. I'm sure she'll keep it up as she gets older, then.

      I have trouble with the balancing thing, too, so I'll just see what others say! :)

    3. A lovely post! First of all, I am insanely jealous of where you live! What a wonderful reflection on how important nature has been for you daughter throughout her life. It put a smile on my face! Kudos to you for letting your daughter learn the importance of taking a moment to herself and enjoying Mother Nature. Way to go Mama!

    4. This is beautiful. I was raised a little like this, spending hours and hours in the top of a tree, and I want my son to have that privilege too. Your daughter is a lucky girl!

    5. I love how you emphasis tree climbing as a way to explore your body!! now THAT is using Nature as a way to explore and nurture development. Great work mama!

    6. What a beautiful post! I was also raised in the outdoors, climbing trees and running wild, and I have only fond memories of those times. I think your daughter will look back at all the happy memories of outdoor time and thank you for it someday.

    7. I think I want to come live near you! Your neighborhood sounds beautiful. As far as balancing outside time with computer time, that's something I struggle with too. One thing I've found is that I am more willing to go sit outside if I bring something with me - a notebook to make a list, a book to read, something that makes me feel more productive. And then once I'm outside, I'm more likely to just relax and enjoy it.

    8. What lovely place to go to sleep :) Great post for the carnival.

    9. Thanks for the perspective as a parent of an older child. I just enrolled my son today in public school for next year from a Waldorf pre-K. It's not perfect, but the kids were digging in the dirt during recess, and I want to be involved in a positive way to encourage more of that in public school (as long as it serves my son well enough. If not, homeschooling and nature centers, here we come!)

    10. I totally hear you on the balance thing and sadly have no words of wisdom there, but I think it's incredible that you have that link with your daughter. What a beautiful foundation for her!

      And, looking out my window in Sutton, I can't imagine being out there right now. It's freezing! Lol.

    11. What a lovely post! My little daughter is very in touch with nature and at three already climbing all the trees. Gives me palpitations but I let her climb them!


    All comments are much appreciated as I know it takes time and effort. But please let me know your thoughts!