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Category Archives: Research and News

Supervision. Barrier to Kids Playing Outside?

Awhile back The Heritage Council published the results of a survey that examines the differences in playing outdoors between generations. Parents were asked where they played when they were children and where their children (ages 7-11) now play. Although playing at home, in a friend’s home indoors, the garden and the school playground are still the most popular locations for playing across the generations, it’s no surprise that there were decreases in the number of kids who played in fields, wild spaces and the woods.

I was however a little surprised at first when “supervision” emerged as the number one barrier to children playing and experiencing the outdoors.

This is something I’ve thought about quite a bit in relation to how I was raised compared to how I’m raising my own kids. I feel like I ran wild (to which I will be forever grateful to my Mother), and although I want my kids to have the same experiences I did, I’m just not sure I’ll be comfortable with the same level of supervision my Mom was.

To make my point let me dissect the first paragraph in my About Me page.

  • I grew up in Southern Utah.
    My kids were, until recently, growing up in a gated community, in the biggest little city in the world, Reno Nevada. (more…)

A Mother’s Day Wishlist… of the material kind

Starting very soon (as in any day now) I’ll join the league of females with their own special day to be appreciated each year:  Mothers.

Growing up, we celebrated Mother’s Day (and in August, my mother’s birthday) with a trip to the desert for some exploring of new roads and mountain tops, but with one slight change.  Mom got to pick where we were going all day long.  At every fork in the road we yielded to her whims.  I don’t know if it is how she wanted to be appreciated, but to us kids it seemed like a pretty big deal.  It seemed like a huge responsibility too… what if she chose wrong?  What if the adventure of a lifetime lay down the right fork, and she chose left?  I wondered if she might have appreciated a new sun hat more than the weight of Fate resting on her decisions.

Looking back I realize we never once regretted my mother’s choices–never once did we go home thinking “Man, that’s the last time we let her decide which way to go!”  And I also recall her enthusiasm about what we saw after each decision (“oooooh, look!  A Short-eared Owl is hiding in that Juniper!”,  “My goodness!  Have you ever seen such a view?” , “Those clouds remind me of a Maxwell Parish painting!”).  Adventure is in the eye of the beholder, and mom showed us how to recognize it, no matter which path you took. (more…)

Napping your kids outside. Everyday.

Have you heard of this?

When I say napping outside, I’m not talking about letting your child finish thier nap in the stroller after a walk or  letting them fall asleep in a pack while you hike – although those are both great ideas. I’m talking about people who put their children outdoors to take nap every single day, no matter what the weather. No matter where they are, which is often right outside their own home.

I first read about this idea on DesignMom, in a post about a trip she’d taken to Sweden. She described the country as “one big Waldorf school” where kids spend a lot of time outdoors. They play outdoors, spend school time outdoors, and yes, their kids take naps outdoors. It’s sounds like the OutsideMom’s version of a utopian society to me. (more…)

Find out what wildflowers are blooming in your neck of the woods

It is so close to springtime here.  The grass is mostly green.  The Fox Sparrows are back in front of the house.  Robins are perusing the lawn for tasty grubs.  The Red-tailed Hawks that live in the Cottonwood just down the road are searching the fields for voles again.  Mud Season has just about passed and I don’t have to wipe the dogs’ feet every time they come in the house.  Flowers will be unfurling their splendid banners any day now!

They may already be blooming where you are… and if you aren’t sure, there are a number of excellent websites that can keep you up to date on the blooms occurring in your neck of the woods.  Here are my favorites, arranged by region (this list is hardly comprehensive, but is a start). (more…)

Losing an adventure buddy. Farewell little Axel Charrette.

I’ve had writers block before, but nothing like this.

I’ve mentioned Jen on this blog before. I’ve never physically met her, but from the moment I started following her blog I knew she was someone I’d love to be neighbors with. I had to be content to just follow her blog periodically, keep tabs on her families biking adventures, and occasionally shoot her an email when I needed biking advice.

Jen and her family have been living, playing, and working in Mexico for the last few months. They’ve been having fabulous adventures with their kids. Biking, surfing, relaxing and enjoying being together.

All this came to a screeching halt two weeks ago. Her youngest boy is gone. Forever. And I feel like I’ve lost one of my own. The online world is a weird one. Strange how you can let yourself be so vested in the life of someone else. What do you say to a Mom who’s lost their child? I could hardly bring myself to speak the news out loud to my husband.

Jen, Randy, and Kalden, my heart aches for you. It aches for Axel. It aches for the life that won’t be lived. It aches for the horror that exists in our world. I know that the way I feel is 0.000001% of how Axel’s family feels right now, and that makes my heart ache even more. And it is desperately looking for solace somewhere. I find it by hanging onto the conviction that there is more happiness, and peace, and love in this world than hatred and grief. (more…)

Combating cold symptoms while pregnant: Safe natural Remedies

About a week ago I came down with a terrible case of bronchitis.  Every pregnant lady I know tells me that you get sicker when you’re pregnant.  I concur.  I haven’t been that miserable in a decade, at least.  What’s worse is all the cold medicines you’ve been saving since your last bout with a cold are useless.  Robitussin?  According to the FDA:  pregnant women should only take it if the benefits outweigh the risks… and by the way we have no idea what the risks are.  Tylenol?  Sure.  In small doses and do not under any circumstances exceed the maximum dose.  Which means if your fever starts coming back around hour 3.5, you are just going to have to suffer until hour six to eight before you can get some relief again.  Nyquil?  No.  Sorry.

Sigh.

As I lay in misery on the couch, wrapped in ten blankets and wheezing, I researched home remedies (and called my mother)–natural ways to combat the cold symptoms that were leaving me in agony.  Here’s what I came up with… what’s your favorite natural remedy? (more…)

Favorite OutsideMom posts of 2012

Because we will be off celebrating the holidays with our families this next week, we leave you with a list of our top 12 blog posts of 2012. Some were chosen because they were so popular with our readers, others because they were our favorites. I’m also sharing a few photos that really helped define this past year for us.

Thanks for supporting outsidemom.com. Thanks for sharing, commenting and being so great! We hope you all have a happy and outdoor filled holiday season.

See you next year!

1. Ideas for outdoor dates with little kids

2. Going solo in the great outdoors… with kids

3. What do your children think you value?

4. DIY: Convert your bike trailer to ski trailer

5. Kids love plumbing

6. And then there were 3: Road bumps in the life of an outdoor family

7. Helping your child choose a science fair project

8. My camping style:  no fees, no toilets, no people

9. Rock climbing: Therapy for kids with ADHD

10. Giant slingshots:  Angry birds for the real world

11. The incredible haystack

12. Packing for a camping trip: Your ultimate guide

 

Addicted to Technology? Get outside.

My favorite news magazine is THE WEEK. I look forward to its arrival every weekend in my mailbox. Then I read it cover to cover.

Every week, THE WEEK’s editors scour hundreds of newspapers, magazines, and Web sites (U.S. and foreign), searching for the most intriguing stories and the most thoughtful commentary from a wide range of viewpoints.

I particularly enjoyed one of their recent cover stories: Addicted to Tech. The article gave excerpts from other write-ups in The Observer (Internet Addiction Even Worries Silicon Valley), The Atlantic (Are We Addicted to Gadgets or Indentured to Work) and Newsweek (Is the Web Driving us Mad).

My favorite excerpt came from an article written by Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times (Blissfully Lost in the Woods). It was worth sharing.

I know of a good treatment, if not a cure, said Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times. It’s called nature. When we get into the great outdoors, the illusion of control that technology provides disappears, and we are “deflated, humbled, and awed all at once.” In the “vast natural cathedral,” we are reminded of a world much larger than ourselves—one that predates us, will outlive us, and at whose mercy we exist. To escape our “post-industrial self-absorption,” we all need to leave our iPhones at home at least once a week, and go take a walk in the woods. Your devices will be waiting when you get back, and you’ll be a bit saner when you rejoin the endless conversation.

I say amen to that. Happy weekend.

What do your children think you value?

I heard about a study awhile back that crosses my mind on almost a daily basis. Maybe it’s just my lifestyle, but I really do think about it quite a bit.

This study involved two groups of moms. Group one never opened a book all day long. They just went about their motherly business while their kids were at home. Group two at a minimum had a book open on their laps whenever possible. If they weren’t actually reading, they at least gave the pretense of it. The study found that the kids whose moms were in group two were significantly more likely to become readers than the kids who grew up in the homes of group one.

To tell you the truth I can’t find that study anywhere to provide you with the link. Don’t remember where I heard it, or whether I heard it or read it. Maybe I dreamed the whole thing, I don’t know (if so, props to me for dreaming about scientific studies!). But I guess that’s also not really the point for me.

The findings are not shocking by any means, I’m pretty sure we can all agree that our kids watch us. Our actions speak far louder than our words. They do what we do. They learn to value what we value.

After reading (or dreaming) about the study, I started to mentally mull over my day. I imagined what it was that I was showing my kids about what I valued. Exercise? Computer? Work? Outdoors? Phone? Service? Them? Cooking? Health? Art? TV? Reading? Funny how what you think you value isn’t always reflected in how you choose to spend your time every day. I also thought a lot about what I wanted my kids to know that I value, and subsequently what I want them to value.

I made a few changes in my weekly routine. (more…)

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    I'm Lindsey. I'm an environmental educator, my husband's a biologist. The outdoors is infused into everything we do; which explains why I'm better at mud pies than home decorating. More About Me

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