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Let Them Explore: The Importance of Being in Nature

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Why Children Need to Spend Time Outdoors

Holistic health doctor, Dr. Steven Fonso has helped thousands of families reconnect with what matters most: slowing down to savor authentic moments of connection and letting go of the noise and stress that all too often get in the way. 

In his new book "Finding Magic in the Mess", Dr. Fonso offers advice to help parents and kids re-establish an essential connection to nature. 

Fighting Cabin Fever
Have you ever felt cooped up, not able to move or express your body or emotions or feel the freedom of the outdoors? What is your mood, and what do you feel like when you’re stuck indoors, not able to move and breathe in a nurturing, natural environment?

Between school, home, and indoor activities, imagine how much of the first twenty- five years of life are potentially spent disconnecting from nature.

Make sure you and your family spend time experiencing the outdoors— park, playground, or your own backyard. Just taking in the sounds, smells, and textures of nature. You don’t have to do anything specific, just connecting with what is around you.

The fresh air, sunshine, animals, and vegetation. Commit to rolling around, playing outside, exploring the surroundings with your children, and the family dynamics will be enhanced, more well, and more healthy.

Getting Your Hands Dirty

Remember your childhood of digging in the dirt, attending school, having mucky fingers, and putting them in your mouth hundreds if not thousands of times? Guess what? You are still here!

It is not even fathomable to contemplate the magnitude of bacteria that you have and will be exposed to in your lifetime. You are a living organism teamed up with other organisms for a symbiotic relationship. They are part of us. We are part of them.

If we are all one, what if you chose to lead life with love, support, respect, and gratitude for other species and trust that their role is both necessary and valuable? Humans and other life-forms share the planet for a reason. We support one another’s efforts in this game called life.

We are connected with earth, nature, and all other life-forms on the planet. We need one another, and teaching our kids to be scared of dirt and bacteria and germs is teaching them a separatist and dualistic approach to life. Could our focus be setting them up for unnecessary paranoia and fear? Don’t kids have enough to be concerned about these days?

When you and your children are connected to inner peace, you will each feel like you have more than enough to live in this world, and you will do so in harmony with all other creatures, big and small, and everything around you.*

How to Make Outside Time Part of Your Routine

Carve out a time of day that you spend outdoors as a family - regardless of the weather - whether it's right after breakfast or before dinner time each day.

Don't worry about an agenda. Rather than focus a specific outdoor activity, let them take charge and follow their lead as they explore on their own. 

Bring the nature lesson back inside. After spending time pointing out the natural world around your child, engage them with books on natural topics too. 

Create a nature collection. Let your child bring outdoor treasures home with them. Keep items in a special box or designate a spot in the house where these treasures are left on display.

*Reprinted from Finding Magic in the Mess by arrangement with TarcherPerigee Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © 2019, Dr. Steven Fonso

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