Little Green Lives

Family lifestyle blog with a hint of green

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

sam Jennings14 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

5 reasons why digging a vegetable garden can make you feel like a rockstar Mummy

LET'S GO OUTSIDEsam Jennings3 Comments
isla-and-indi-feet-1-of-1.jpg

5 reasons why digging a vegetable garden can make you feel like a rockstar Mummy/Human.

There is just something about dirty soil-covered toes that I love. To me it says exploration and adventure. It says these feet are at one with nature. It says we're at home in our vegetable garden.

Over on our side of the world (Toronto, Canada) summer is almost over. Of course its always spring/summer somewhere so I want to share this post with you.

Do you love fresh seasonal vegetables? Love going to farmers markets, to fill your wicker basket or bags with this week's harvest? 

How about this? If you could just step into your back garden and collect and eat your own homegrown vegetables and herbs! Planted, grown and harvested by you.

Mmm that's sounds exciting! you're thinking. But just as quickly you think surely it's not something a busy mum is able to take on. It's too complicated, too time consuming and labour intensive.

Well trust me, it doesn't have to be.

We truly have a postage stamp backyard, but this summer I was determined to grow more than just tomatoes and basil. I felt it was high time to get more adventurous.

Tonight I made delicious vegan burgers from my fav new Cook Book (Super Fresh by Jennifer Houston)I used fresh parsley and basil from our herb garden, and laid the burgers on a deep nest of homegrown lettuce in the bun, it felt so good.

Let's dig a vegetable garden

No experience necessary.

Possible for those with even the tiniest of tiny gardens.

With just a little investment of time and energy, you too, can be the proud owner of homegrown delicious herbs and vegetables. Did I mention the excitement when you serve a friend a homegrown salad, or a mojito with fresh mint from your garden? It feels amazing.

Little green lives - 5 reasons why digging a vegetable garden can make you feel like a rockstar Mummy/Human.

A little recommendation (from experience)

Before any actual digging takes place be sure to pop a bottle of wine in the fridge. You may need it tonight, to congratulate yourself on your efforts, to de-stress or aid recovery from aching body parts.

What do you say? To the garden we go!

So on the outset it is a little labour intensive.

Take a look at your space, decide what you would love to grow and eat.

Grab yourselves some little seedlings or seeds, whichever you prefer. I went with the seedling option (faster results and easier for kids to help with) from our local garden centre. Helpfully, ours came with very simply planting instructions, i.e., planting depth, spacing distance, light, etc.

Give the little people spades and enjoy a bit of hard digging. This can double as your daily exercise and fresh air intake/ all while keeping the kids entertained. You're multi-tasking, so you really can’t go wrong.

Let them dig till their little hearts' content, exploring/finding/playing with bugs and worms is all part of the fun. When their attention wavers give them the hose, water, dirt and kids is like mummies, wine and chocolate.

Little green lives - 5 reasons why digging a vegetable garden can make you feel like a rockstar Mummy/Human.

To summarise

Dig. Read seeding directions. Plant. Water. Feel all smug and earthy.

Having a vegetable garden gives me a similar pleasure to using my slow cooker. It requires a little prep, but then things actually progress by themselves. While you cook/clean/sleep/tend to the 101 things you do as a busy mum, they soak up the sun and rain and grow all alone out there in the garden. Just water daily.

5 reasons why digging a vegetable garden will make you feel like a rockstar mum

1. The digging, getting your hands in the earth is relaxing and therapeutic. Kids love to garden. It’s a fab, cheap multi-sensory activity, connecting them to the land and nature.

Minor disclaimer

I will admit, it may at times be a little stressful. After several hours of this:

“Mummy. Indi ate another worm.”

‘Mum, Isla just covered my shoes in dirt."

‘Mummy, Theo keeps digging where we just planted the seeds."

Little green lives - 5 reasons why digging a vegetable garden can make you feel like a rockstar Mummy/Human.

If you reach this point you may decide to take a little break. Return to the garden when your little people are sleeping. Being alone in your garden - the smell of the freshly watered earth and the silence - is blissful. Best experienced with a cold glass of wine.

(Just you and the bloody squirrels, who you can almost hear licking their lips about the prospect of fresh seedlings for dinner.)

2. Planting vegetable from seeds and seedlings is a great learning opportunity for the kids. Talk to them about what plants need to grow and survive. Give kids ownership of a little area, theirs to water and weed (under supervision of course).

3. Watch your veggies grow. Talk to your kids about the ripening process.

4. Great for the environment, Growing your own vegetables means no packaging and no transportation (carbon footprint) required.

5. If kids plant it, water it, grow it, they are more inclined to eat it. Connect kids to the land and the food they eat. It's so important for healthy eating habits. Fresh homegrown goodness for your little people’s plates and they learn that food doesn't come from a grocery store. Just imagine the delicious things you can cook. Homemade pesto is my kiddies fav.

Little green lives - 5 reasons why digging a vegetable garden can make you feel like a rockstar Mummy/Human.

Inspired……. Happy gardening folks. Would love to hear about your efforts in the garden.

I'll leave you with a little quote from Miss Isla BOO

‘Mummy, that damn squirrel ate my strawberries!”

The sweet words of my little gardening enthusiast. Aged 3.

Did make me chuckle. If you would like to see more pictures of our outdoor adventures why not check out our Instagram feed.

Thanks for popping in

Sam

Little green lives - 5 reasons why digging a vegetable garden can make you feel like a rockstar Mummy/Human.