Whether the weather forecast predicts thundering rain or scorching shine, there is nothing stopping this trio of mine. With a backpack full of snacks and raincoats, suncream or woolly hats. We’re ready to explore the wonderfully wet woodlands, stomp along the crunchy colourful leafs under our trusty patterned wellies and paddle in the cool flowing stream hand in hand.
Having a daughter with a sensory disability has really changed my outlook on parenting, the benefits raising little explorers of the great outdoors are somewhat incredibly interesting and endless.
It’s no secret we allow our children to roam around woodlands and explore new exciting experiences on their own, we take a back seat approach and participate when needed, allowing them to engage together which stimulates creativity when playing, this could be Luka-james building a sandcastle and encouraging through gestures for Livy and Parker to help him dig a castle moat or a big tower. The curiosity amongst the three of them bounce from one another.
We recently come across a beautiful long pathway of conkers in our recent adventure, it was very exciting for the children, and as parents it’s really important to empower their imaginations so we ask questions like;
what are they?
Why are they different sizes?
Who eats them?
How many are on the floor?
What is the texture like?
What colours run through them?
How many can you hold?
Can we find the biggest and smallest?
What can we make with them?
Their ages are 4, 3 and 2 so each mind is at a different development stage.
Livy is of course behind due to her profound deafness and being non verbal. But she uses a great amount of interest when exploring in her own way. She will shake the conker, perhaps try to lick it or crunch the leaf in her hand. She will almost certainly put her fingers in puddles and becomes excited to see the ripples pointing enthusiastically at what she has created!
I also believe exploring the outdoors communicating and teaching our children as a family helps us to recognise danger in different environments, we improve their social skills by talking them through the seasons or helping them through challenges, is this hill too steep? If we need to jump, shall we hold hands, or do we need to sit and wiggle forward? We explore through communication and assess a situation into safety. Instantly we’re so engaged in a exciting new activity and their curiosity is heightened to figure a way over this obstacle enhances their problem solving and confidence, they forget their fear or worries.
With Livy’s needs we have to give a little more support in areas of development. She is slightly pressured and overwhelmed when trying to correct her when stimulating the development of fine and gross motor skills. What we have found is when we’re out we try to encourage the children to pick up a pebble to throw into a lake, also ask questions like, who can throw the furthest? Who can make the biggest ripple? When climbing trees, what can you see? What does it feel like? What animals or insects lives in trees? Simply picking up a leaf, twig, berries or conkers all these help to refine a child’s gross motor skills, without the pressure of a classroom or preschool being taught how to correctly position a pen or how we pick up objects with our fingers. A natural but fun way to help our children’s development, which is perfect for Livy.
The pressure I currently face combining being a working Mum of three, a Mother of a child with a disability, a Mother of a school boy. A home runner bill payer l and guider and a partner. I know I don’t often succeed in finding a balance in all of these. I carry a burden of guilt in this rucksack of mine 24/7.
But I know just for a few of these hours, going on an adventure means pure quality bonding time with my children and partner in the country air, I get to exhale the pressure and guilt that exhausts me. I get to be this fun Mummy who doesn’t need to keep clean ready for work. A Mummy who isn’t limited on time. A Mummy who climbs trees, dances in the rain, splashes in the puddles, makes sand towers and dens, who isn’t afraid to get dirty and crawl with her children in the muddiest tunnel you ever did see. Outdoors is a good healer.
And do you know what my favourite benefit is, they’ll be so knackered from running around and having a great time in the fresh air, they’ll sleep like a log you saw in the forest. And I can slip into my bubbly bath with a G&T in hand and feel no shame demolishing that most deserved chocolate bar guilt free (KID FREE)!