Fall is here and I’m trying to take advantage of the crisp weather and green grass before snow covers the ground. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, my kids started a new school and get less recess than before. It really worried me because I do believe kids need to move in order to be successful and concentrate properly. I was also concerned that they’d become more tied to their “screens”. However I’m really proud of my family – we are making a real effort to get outside during our free time (because it’s no longer a given) and are all benefiting from it! I’d say our hour count is around 715 (between school recess, weekday playground time with friends and family weekend hikes) and I’m happy. We may still get to 1000 by December 31st, but I’m not sure. Even if we don’t, it’s still pretty close!
I read “Balanced and Barefoot” a few years ago and was always struck by Hanscom’s mention of stamina. She posits that kids are weaker and complain more about physical activity than previous generations, because we expect less and give them fewer opportunities for free and outdoor movement. She doesn’t mean several structured sports games in one weekend (which has become the norm for many young children), but rather free play, hiking in the woods etc. I’m sure you’ve seen it yourself – we all sleep better at night when we get the energy “out.” I once heard someone say that humans are animals, too, and we need to move; we are not made to sit all day. Couldn’t agree more!
Ultimately, why bother? I’ve mentioned it before – in order to get your children to care about the Earth’s well being, they need to connect with it. For example, this weekend we tried to go pumpkin picking but there were very few options. The farm said it was just too wet of a summer and therefore less product. Why? Climate change. What about a child who loves to ski and pond skate, but the seasons becomes shorter because we have less winter? It causes us to take these experiences less for granted, appreciate what we have and try to preserve it. I heard a scary statistic that New Hampshire could become like South Carolina, weather-wise, by 2050. What a tragedy that would be.
If you’re looking for some ideas before the weather turns, here’s a list of good hikes for kids. Seacoast Moms posted some suggestions for viewing the foliage. Lastly, we had a lot of fun visiting a local ski mountain this past weekend and playing along the slopes without the snow! Whatever you do, just get outside! My family has started walking to school (about 3/4 of a mile) and I am thrilled! My kids used to complain about skipping the car, but now they tolerate it. Hey, it’s a start! And our bodies (and the Earth!) are much happier for it! – Rachel
PS More landfills are proposed for New Hampshire that would collect out-of-state trash. Not cool. For the last several years every New England state, other than New Hampshire, has enacted legislation and/or instituted new rules that have made it harder for private landfill developers to build new landfills in their states and harder to import trash from other states. If New Hampshire residents don’t start screaming about it and New Hampshire legislators don’t take action before we know it New Hampshire, and especially the North Country, will become the garbage dump for all of New England.