WOW! What a beautiful last couple of days out here during this prairie winter. And it’s forecasted to hold out through the weekend at the very least. I’m sure many of us are very grateful for a reprieve from frozen nose hairs, kiddos crying from painful cold-red fingers, and the time it takes preparing to get out the door. I left the house this morning with no gloves at all. NO GLOVES! I don’t even know where they are right now. I’m pretty obsessive about knowing where my gear is, especially during frigid months on the plains.
While we are basking in all this early-spring time-feeling glory, let us not forget to mentally prepare ourselves for the inevitable plunge of the thermometer. It is only January folks. So with that in mind I have created a list, after reading another blog that wrote a similar list, about the reasons why I cleverly, if I may say so, coax my children out of doors on cold winter days, even days that drop below zero.
Reason #1- Teaching Electronic Media Self-Monitoring
Why, might you ask, do I care so much about the amount of time my children indulge in electronic media? Time in front of a screen takes away from the time children could be doing other things. You know, simple stuff like cultivating life-long skills needed to develop their character. Creating a space away from electronic media allows children to know how to be alone, to know themselves, to understand their creative mind, to observe the world around them long enough to ask questions about it, just to name a few. With statistics that the average child spends more than 40 hours a week with electronic media, if I’m not proactive, what would the alternative be?
Now, I use to have a strict authoritative hand regarding time spent in front of screens. Now my kids are getting older and school, peers and society in general have created an outright revolution in my house. During the dark winter months the pull of all things electronic media is ever strong. So to avoid a coup I generously, I might add, increase screen time.
After they have had a chunk of electronic media indulgence I begin the slow and patient process of getting two boys geared up to experience what a ‘feels like’ -15 degree day is like. We don’t go out long but the experience inevitably brings out smiles, rosy cheeks and an exuberance that children should hold in their hearts more often.
After we head back in and get all our gear put away my kiddos are full of an energy that was non-existent during their electronic media time. This is where I sock it to ‘em. I have a casual conversation with them while preparing tea or hot cocoa, to tap into the way they felt before they went outside and the way they feel after they went outside. My teenager is totally on to me, but never-the-less I try to connect them to those emotional states. To create a familiarity with them. It’s inevitable that our children will be making their own decisions someday. As parents in the modern world we must teach our children moderate and healthy use of our technologies. Many kinds of extremes can be a detriment to our children, too much soda, too much cake, too much excitement, too much sun; you know what I’m talking about.
There is a strong body of evidence to support the positive physiological response our bodies have with contact in nature. Reduced blood pressure levels, reduction in the stress hormone cortisol, exposure to germs and bacteria that strengthen our immune systems and increase the chemicals in our brains responsible for mood balance. With the rise of the technological revolution in the last 20 years we have seen a corresponding rise in childhood obesity, an increase in childhood diabetes, and increases in ADD and ADHD symptoms in children. During these dark days on our Nebraska prairie it is ever more important to pay attention to the hypnotic lure of screens and set healthy boundaries for our children to follow. We might even need to set boundaries for ourselves in order to be good role models for our children.
Check back in tomorrow for Reason #2 for pulling my kids out in the cold cold Nebraska winter.
SEE YOU OUT THERE!