Little Green Lives

Family lifestyle blog with a hint of green

Bathing with babies, pepermint tea and bucketfulls of blackberries : A few reflections on our first 2 months in our new rural home.

sam Jennings2 Comments

When I told close friends we were going rural, going to finally fulfill our homestead dream, some said oh wow that's my dream...... But many said, wow 30 minutes drive to your nearest shops and coffee shops are you sure? We are living OUR dream. We have been in our new home for 3 months now I wanted to share some reflections and ponderings.

The calm before the storm - A little sunday morning lavender picking.

LIVING SIMPLYsam Jennings17 Comments

I feel like we are in the midst of the calm before the storm. I'm trying hard to savour every moment, dividing myself, my love, time and attention just 3 ways, enjoying the last few days/weeks of this my very last pregnancy those tiny movements, those baby hiccups , im even managing to get a few full nights of sleep. But at the same time i'm wishing the days away, excited to meet our new baby.

The benefits of outdoor play this winter. Happy kiddies, happy mums!

LET'S GO OUTSIDEsam Jennings15 Comments
Isla-and-dirty-hands-near-face-1-of-1.jpg
Little Green Lives - The Benefits of Outdoor play for kids
Little Green Lives - The Benefits of Outdoor play for kids

There are so many benefits of outdoor play. Not only for children, but for the whole family.

I generally find it hard to stay inside for very long. I feel as a family we all do better with a fuller and active schedule and lots of time outside. It’s not that we’re always out hiking in forests, traversing mountain ranges, cycling country lanes, fly fishing waist-deep in our waders (though we secretly long for these kinds of activities in our daily lives). Often our outside pursuits are simple.                      

The kids are equally as happy playing in our front yard, running up and down the street with our neighbour’s children. They adore illustrating the sidewalk with sharks and mice (Theo), octopus and centipede (Isla), or digging for worms in our postage stamp of a back yard and playing construction site in the sand box at our local park.

Little Green Lives - The Benefits of Outdoor play for kids
Little Green Lives - The Benefits of Outdoor play for kids

Being outside is immensely therapeutic. It’s not a miracle cure for all the challenging behaviours of small children. Meltdowns will continue. But Mother Nature does stimulate the senses and offer distractions. So sibling disagreements and whining spells are much less frequent.

“Quick Isla, look at those two squirrels chasing each other up that maple tree!”

“Indi, look at that big dog carrying a stick!” 

‘Theo, I wonder what insects are living underneath that stone? Let’s take a look!”

Aside from it being huge amounts of fun there are so many benefits for kids. Here are a few:

Benefits of Outdoor play

  • Strengthening the immune system:

As my kids grovel in mud and, in Indi’s case, dropping snacks and retrieving them garnished with sand and dirt, fellow mums and passers-by are quick to pass judgement that I’m lackadaisical in the cleanliness department. It’s no that. I believe germs are good. (We lived in India for 18 months – Isla was born there – and this has been excellent in building immunity for my kiddies.)

Little Green Lives - The Benefits of Outdoor play for kids
Little Green Lives - The Benefits of Outdoor play for kids

Children who are exposed to dirt, animals and germs - and all the other things that can send modern-day parents reaching for their antibacterial wipes - are generally healthier with stronger immune systems.  Regular exposure can reduce the risk of kids developing autoimmune disorders and allergies.

  • Provides physical exercise:

Children are physical creatures. They have energy to burn. Exercising while having fun is the best kind of exercise. Riding bikes, playing tag, climbing trees, using outdoor play equipment, kicking a ball, having snowball fights –  all provide aerobic exercise and strength training.

Little Green Lives - The Benefits of Outdoor play for kids
Little Green Lives - The Benefits of Outdoor play for kids
Little Green Lives - The Benefits of Outdoor play for kids
Little Green Lives - The Benefits of Outdoor play for kids
  • Stimulates the imagination: 

Unstructured outside play helps children develop their imagination, promotes creativity and provides intellectual stimulation.

Little Green Lives - The Benefits of Outdoor play for kids
Little Green Lives - The Benefits of Outdoor play for kids
Little Green Lives - The Benefits of Outdoor play for kids
Little Green Lives - The Benefits of Outdoor play for kids
  • It promotes social development:

Children who play outside learn problem solving skills. Whether they’re learning how to get along with friends ( sharing, negotiating, conflict resolution) or trying to figure out the best way to build a fort. These skills can help them to perform better in the classroom, work better in teams and become leaders.

  • Exploring nature:

Kids are naturally curious. They want to learn about what’s around them, nature is full of sensory-stimulating discoveries.

Little Green Lives - The Benefits of Outdoor play for kids
Little Green Lives - The Benefits of Outdoor play for kids
  • Outdoor play activities are family friendly:

If I’m outside, I can’t be distracted by house work, so I can focus on being truly present with my kids. You’ll want to be outside with your children to help keep them safe, which often means that your activity level increases as well. Bike rides, camp trips, days at the beach are a few of our favourite family activities.

  • It provides daily dose of vitamin D:

Vitamin D helps promote better moods, energy levels, memory and protection from health conditions like heart disease and diabetes. Just 10-15 minutes out in the sun will give your children the daily dose of Vitamin D they need.

I know that as the cooler winter approaches being outside looses some of its appeal. But wrap up warm, put on those rain boots, make a flask of hot chocolate and go for it!

Why not check out our outdoor adventures, our recent camping trip and a post about digging our vegetable garden.

For further reading I love this post from the Live strong foundation

Thanks for popping in

Sam

Camping with kids - An honest account of our recent family camping trip.

LET'S GO OUTSIDEsam Jennings5 Comments
Theo-and-isla-by-the-fire-1-of-1.jpg
Little green lives camping with kids
Little green lives camping with kids

'How was your camp trip?’ I was asked by many of the parents during school drop off.  Everyone had been a little intrigued by my excitement about camping with three young children in a small tent in October.

‘Wonderful if you go into it with zero expectations of sleep,’ was always my first response, as I yawned and a took a large gulp of strong tea. Quickly followed by, ‘But we did have such a lovely time’.

Camping is something we’ve really enjoyed as a little family. We took our first trip in the summer last year when Indi was just 3 months old (we like to start them early). But an early-October camp with friends in Canada…? At best this was being optimistic, at worst a terrible idea which would end up in a carload of wet, frozen sleeping bags and packing up shop in the middle of the night. The October conditions at Sand Banks Park were one element myself and a couple of girlfriends failed to fully consider in our haste to book adjoining tent plots, each feeling a tiny bit anxious about informing our husbands of our plans.

Little Green Lives - camping with Kids
Little Green Lives - camping with Kids

Our last camping trip for 2016

To children camping is idyllic, hours of free time to explore, no schedules or routines to follow, collecting firewood and making fires, in a land of giant trees and forest creatures. Snuggling in their warm cozy sleeping bag at night and savouring ‘special’ foods reserved for camp trips only, like marshmallows, chocolate milk and baked beans.

Me - ‘Isla and Theo, what were your favourite things about our weekend away?’

Isla - ‘Climbing up the big sand dunes, finding treasures on the beach, eating hot marshmallows next to the fire.’

Theo - ‘Shining our torches into the trees looking for owls. Playing with our friends. Running down the big sand dunes and eating four marshmallows’.

In truth they loved every second.

little green lives - camping with kids
little green lives - camping with kids
Little green lives - camping with kids
Little green lives - camping with kids
Little Green Lives Camping with Kids
Little Green Lives Camping with Kids

For adults, camping’s all the above. A true tonic to our busy city lives, the fresh sweet air, the natural beauty as Fall arrives and paints a beautiful backdrop. The kids playing so happily miles away from TV and toys.  Cool evenings close to a fire under a canopy of stars, roasting marshmallows and drinking mulled wine with good friends.

But the other reality is camping is an extraordinary amount of work. The planning and packing, the set up, not to mention the sleeplessness followed by a desperate attempt to pack up wet and dirty camp gear which after two nights has miraculously doubled in volume. Wrestling muddy, dew-soaked groundsheets, tent and rainfly into their minute bags is few laughs.

What are the words every parent dreads the most when on a camp trip?

For me it’s ‘Mummy…… Mummy…… Mummy I need a wee,’ said in a desperate voice indicating mere seconds to spare to get your little person outside before there’s an in-tent disaster, at 3 am when it’s two degrees outside. Requiring you to extricate yourself from your warm sleeping bag, locate shoes, remove three layers of kids clothing, encourage small child their help is actually required...and all this in the pitch dark (because of course the bloody torch has disappeared).

I wrote this post in an un-showered exhausted state, serenaded by the hum of my machine grinding its way through the first of eight loads of laundry, surrounded by a chaos of piles of wet, smoke-infused camp gear. I wanted to capture the funny moments. Some haha funny, but many of the if-you-don’t-laugh-you-might-cry moments.

Like it being so painfully cold at 6 am - all kids awake and raring to start the day - trying to wash off last night’s welded-on ketchup (with red raw cold hands) from bowls so the kiddies will have something to eat their breakfast out of.

Little Green lives - Camping with kids
Little Green lives - Camping with kids

Or one of our friends sitting in the camp laundry at 10 pm tumble drying their kid’s wet sleeping bag (accidents happen when kids wake up disorientated in dark tents).

In truth, all things considered, it was a wonderful weekend. Sunny weather, adventurous friends and the great outdoors.

Though we will definitely be planning ALL future camp trips from June-September.

Would love to hear your funny camping with kiddies stories.

Thanks for popping in.

Sam