I was lucky. I grew up in a neighborhood with a lot of other kids, roughly my own age. I spent most of my younger years outside playing everything form Hide and Seek to baseball to football to nothing (other than sitting outside wondering what to do). These opportunities came often, and my parents were more than happy to get me out of the house. It was common to hear my mom say, “Great. Now why don’t you go outside and play.”
So I did.
So, when my kids ask me if they can go outside, regardless of what we have going on, I do my best to make sure they have outdoor time.
Our current neighborhood is different than the one I grew up in. There are a number of kids that have similar ages to my own kids, but not many. And these days, it seems like most kids in general are hyper-scheduled, with plenty to do after school, on the weekends, and sometimes, even in the early morning.
My wife and I have decided to not schedule something every day, and the benefit of that is also a disadvantage. We feel that our children have the time to go outside and play, but it is regularly the two of them, simply because other kids in the neighborhood are busy with their own schedules.
So, what is a parent to do? Should we further schedule to provide more “to dos” for our kids, or should we simply hope that the unscheduled time results in an opportunity for them to creatively play and build a better relationship with each other?
Along with the direct correlation professionally (we all need to do better jobs getting outside to reflect and rethink), we also have to provide the time in our lives where we are not as scheduled, if for no other reason than to engage in conversation, actually notice the world around us, and simply be in the moment.
Much can be said for the value of mindfulness, but if we are so scheduled that our brains never have the opportunity to be in the here and now, then we can never truly recharge ourselves. This is important because to be at our best, we have to regularly engage in thinking with a clear head.
It is important for us to not only value the outdoors but to also take the time to enjoy them. This means being comfortable with time that is free, and not always rushing to fill it up.