Sunday, January 27, 2013

101 things to do...#17 be flexible

Recently J arrived at school for his much-anticipated field trip to a local nature center. It's all the kids have been talking about for a couple of weeks. They were excited for the hike, some time with kick sleds, and a special snack in the nature center. Here in Minnesota,January is typically pretty dry and cold. But recently, the temperature was up to 38 degrees in the early morning, with a cold, steady drizzle coming from the gray sky. I walked J in to school and was greeted by several smiling, excited kindergartners. The adults I bumped into, however, were less than enthusiastic. "Today's the big field trip, eh? Oh, too bad!" said one teacher to J as we walked into school. "What a bummer to have this kind of weather on the field trip day!" cried one of the parent chaperones, tightening the belt on her winter coat. "I just can't believe this weather! How awful! And on the day when we have to be outside all morning! Awww." --this from his teacher. I looked around at the children's faces. I could almost hear the excitement being sucked from the room, gone into a black hole somewhere in the ether. These children had been anticipating the trip to the nature center for weeks. I felt sad knowing that all the adults involved in the field trip were visibly disappointed and not censoring their thoughts at all in consideration of the children. People, please. You can't count on the weather being perfect. And when you complain about the weather being too hot/too cold/too global warmingish/too rainy/not sunny/ ruins the mood for everyone, especially young children. They pick up and reflect the moods of the adults around them (the adults they are learning from, I might add!) - they start to feel crummy too. Sure, we'd all like 70 degrees and sunny. But this is Minnesota. It's January. Consider the attitude you present when it comes to weather, or other circumstances outside you can't control. Whether it's weather, bugs, or any conditions outside your control, If you complain and whine, you can bet the children will too. If you demonstrate flexibility, an ability to tolerate variations in circumstances, or show that you can handle disappointment, it will go a long way toward helping the children around you learn to do the same.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

101 things to do...#16: Try something new!

...or maybe something you just haven't done in a while. for us, it was snowshoeing. In years past we've tried this, although my own children have been less than enthusiastic about the awkward feeling of snowshoes, the "different" way to walk, or the newness of the experience. Weather hasn't always been on our side, either. Last winter was unseasonably mild and we had little snow to speak of. But, I've persisted in offering the experience and figured eventually they'd warm up to the idea. A friend recently invited us to meet up at a local nature center where we could rent snowshoes for very little money. The snow was great, the sun was shining, and the kids were much more willing to try snowshoeing knowing they'd have friends at their side. They strapped on the snowshoes and bounded off across frozen wetlands, through snowy forests, and even tried some snowshoe tree-climbing (not something I'd recommend!) It was lovely. Who knows what the trick was this time? Maybe the fact that we had friends in tow, maybe the kids are just *that much older* or maybe it was something else entirely. Whatever it was, I'm glad we gave it another try. It's so easy to try something once, and then to "write it off" if it doesn't go well the first (or second, or third) time. But good things are worth waiting for, and persistence pays off. When it comes to outdoor actvities, it's worth it to give something another chance.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

101 Things to do with children outside....#15 Take a good look!

The other day we were outside enjoying a glorious snowfall-you know the kind: big fluffy white snowflakes, gently rolling through the air, tumbling down to the snowy ground. As we stood at the edge of our yard, taking it all in, L suddenly dropped to her belly on the ground. She lay there quietly for a few seconds. Then she gasped... "Mom! You've got to see this! When you look at a snowflake up close, it actually looks like a snowflake!" Her awe was contagious. I lay down and so did J, and we proceeded to see snowflakes as if we'd never seen them before. It's true, though it's so obvious it sounds silly: snowflakes really do look like snowflakes: multi-armed crystals of intricate lace. For a few quiet minutes, my children and I lay there on our bellies, looking, looking. We settled into the snow, and just enjoyed the beauty of seeing snowflakes.