Spending Time In Nature

This weekend we spent our Saturday morning walking some trails in a local conservancy. We had a delightful time trucking through the woods. It was especially nice to get away from the city for a couple of hours.

Last year I read Richard Louv’s book Last Child in the Woods. While this is a purely secular book and there are some things I don’t agree with, it really made me think about the importance of my kids spending time outside. Louv believes, among other things, childhood obesity and attention deficit disorder, both reaching epidemic numbers in the US, are, in part, caused by children not spending enough time in nature.

Children need the freedom and time to roam, play, and discover. While you may not agree with all of his assessments, it is universally acknowledged that children are not outside enough. And if they are outside, it is usually of the asphalt playground or organized sports variety. Not romping around the woods, digging in dirt, or catching toads.

I have also been reading more of Charlotte Mason’s works who believes that a key component in a child’s education should be nature studies and spending time outdoors.

We have always tried to take our kids outside as much as possible. But I will be honest, lately this has been really difficult for me. We live in the city. And not only are we in a city, we live in a very populated apartment community. It is not as if nature is at my front door.

I do try to take them outside and let them play in the dirt as much as possible. But in order to really spend time enjoying trees, flowers, animal life, and water, I have to be extremely intentional. It’s not easy.

So this weekend we packed a lunch and spent a few hours enjoying God’s beautiful creation.

We stopped to check things out, and collected a multitude of acorns, leaves, sticks, and other random finds.

We enjoyed beautiful splashes of color in an otherwise sea of green leaves and grass. It reminded me of this quote:

“Every blade of grass and every color in this world is intended to make us rejoice in God.” ~ John Calvin

I heard, “Hey Mom, look at this!” more times than I could count.

And we listened. At one point while we were eating lunch, Stefan said, “Did you hear that?” I stopped to listen. Sure enough it was the song of a different bird than we had been hearing. “It sounds like a flute.” And you know what? It really did sound just like a flute! But I would never have thought about it had my 4 year-old not pointed it out to me. If only I would stop and listen with the ears of a child every now and then.

It may not be easy to spend time enjoying God’s beautiful Creation, but we are always grateful when we make the effort.

And what better way to teach your child about the wonders of God’s creation than to just get out and enjoy it?

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy. Ps. 96:11-12

How do you make sure your kids spend enough time outdoors enjoying God’s Creation? 


  1. I’ve been having a hard time getting out into nature this summer because I despise the heat. And boy is there heat in the Deep South. The morning are starting to cool off though so I’m trying to work it back in to our daily routine. And my husband and I have decided to do more hiking this Fall.

    • It is still hot here, too, but the trail was very shady so it was bearable. Hiking is great. I want to try to do more with the kids!

  2. Loved this post!! When the kids were very little, I found it SO hard to get them outside (we lived in apt. complexes, etc.), so it just didn’t happen very often. I sure do regret that! But, that certainly has changed! I’m a huge believer in getting the kids out and just look and beware. Jordan still takes a bug jar with her if we plan to go on a walk, park or someone’s house that in a rural area.I will never forget the jar full of 10 spiders she caught at Henry’s bonfire last year! LOL! Or the two toads she caught at a park and we kept as pets for two years. She is always pointing out bugs, birds, etc. This morning at the bus stop, she pointed out the fact that there were TONS of ‘roly-poly’ bugs. I would have missed them, if Jordan hadn’t pointed my gaze downward to look at little things. She has been very, very instrumental in me getting re-acquainted with my love of God’s Creation. And it’s neat how the more I grow in my love for Christ…the more in awe I become of Him, His attributes, His creation. I stand completely amazed!

  3. I would like to think that I love the outdoors (I did, as a child) and strongly believe kids should enjoy them. I want my kids to love being outdoors. The truth is I *hate* bug bites, don’t enjoy sweating in the middle of the day, and am notorious for getting into cobwebs (uck!). However, I’m bracing myself for the fact that I have a little boy who needs to be outside. And I’m praying (seriously, almost daily) for grace to enjoy and cherish lots of memories in God’s great outdoors! :) Until then, I’ll enjoy treasuring up moments of cleaning up spit-up, resting during nap time, having my fingers chewed on (gotta love teething!:) ), reading in the rocking chair and giggling together on the couch :).

    • I’m with you! I walked through plenty of cobwebs this weekend! I am learning to not let my kids know that I don’t really like insects and such! I want them to love the outdoors!

  4. I also read “Last Child in the Woods,” and while it was a bit of a difficult read to get through, I do agree with his general goal of getting kids outdoors a whole lot more than they are now. Like yourself, I live in a big city, so it’s not like we have meadows and brooks in our backyard (we don’t even have a backyard). That said, I try to take my kid for a walk around the block, or to the park. I think even just being outdoors breathing fresh air is so much better than being cooped indoors all day long.

    • Yes, most days we just go outside to the park. It is nice, though, to occasionally feel like we are actually “in the country.” I agree, there were parts of the book that seemed to drag, though it’s been awhile since I read it!

  5. We’re in a big city too, but I’m so thankful for a fenced back yard. We have “outdoor recess” at 1:30, but the kids don’t seem to notice the heat and are out as much as they can be. Very thankful.

  6. Sounds like you had an enjoyable time outdoors! =)

    My kids LOVE being outside but I have to admit sometimes I hurry them along; thanks for the reminder to take (or make!) the extra time to let them explore and enjoy God’s creation!

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