Turns out Mom was right. Yep, how many of us remember our mom or dad saying to us while we were growing up: “Go outside and play”?!
Well, now it’s not just that parents are saying this. Doctors have begun emphasizing to patients the importance of being outside. Instead of prescribing pills they are prescribing time in nature.
Yep, doctors orders: Go outside!
It is something I believe in very strongly. I remember when I was a young mom; I would feel great about the day if I had gone outside with my kids at least once. Done something in nature with them. Gone on a walk in the neighborhood, played at a local park, adventured on a hike in the woods.
Even if I accomplished nothing else during the day but get my kids and me into nature, outside in some way shape or form, I would be happy about my day.
There is something about being outside for me that makes me feel better, and that is something I want to pass along to my kids. When I take the kids outdoors or insist they play outside, I see them transform. It is as if by outdoor magic they are changed outside. I don’t know if it is the fresh air or the breathtaking scenery or the no-borders feeling, but being outside just does something for the kids---and us.
And, statistics reveal that kids are spending less and less time outside in nature while being obsessed with their screens indoors, and it's been like this for a decade or more.
In his 2008 book, Last Child Left in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder, Richard Louv notes the research the confirms how being in nature is necessary for children’s healthy development as well as their emotional and physical health.
His book may have started a conversation that has been continuing to this day and is gaining momentum, even among physicians. Yep, doctors are starting to prescribe going outside as their healing drug of choice.
Being outside helps curb stress, lower anxiety, and improve mental health, among other benefits.
One program called Park RX America inspires doctors to prescribe going outside to their patients while also connecting them with actual parks near them. Sometimes having the location helps us get there.
I used to write weekly adventure blog posts where I would seek out a new outdoor location and turn it into an adventure with my kids, and then write about it to share with other moms. I began my adventure blog posts as a way to get me to find new parks and encourage other moms to get outside with their kids. It was fun to hear moms tell me they tried one of the parks I had written about.
As my kids got older over the years, they would sometimes resist when I said that we were going on an adventure, but I still insisted, and later they would say they enjoyed it. Well, mostly.
Sometimes our kids will appreciate what we do later in their lives, and making outdoors a part of their lives will be one of those things. What’s especially gratifying is when our kids get old enough to drive and be on their own, and they choose for themselves to go outside on adventures with their friends. Our four oldest children all love the outdoors and make experiencing nature a part of how they live.
We are working on our fifth and last child, who is 16 years old.
He will get there.
Yeah, there is just something about experiencing nature, being outside, surrounded by fresh air, away from electronics and to-do lists and the tyranny of the urgent. We run off stress, we soak up the sun, we savor fresh air, we see beautiful scenery, and we get exercise.
I come alive outside. And, our kids do too. Even when they don’t realize it. After all, Mom knows best and we can add, Doctor's orders!