As an advocate for children spending more time outdoors, you likely have the good intentions, knowledge and experience to make it happen. If a few friendly nudges are all you need to get your grandmonster bundled up and out the door, this post is for you.
Nudge #1: A nudge from an outdoor educator
The weather today is neither good nor bad, simply different.* The weather outside your climate controlled home today is a result of the number of daylight hours, air temperature, precipitation and wind. It's the same weather conditions all species encounter at your particular location. Rather than teach your grandchildren that grey days equal cancelled plans and a case of the grumbles, remind them we cannot control the weather—only our response to it. Demonstrate a positive attitude to a variety of weather conditions by adapting to the weather conditions just like animals do. For example on a cold winter day, you might look at the temperature together and decide: "Today we need to add insulation layers and pack high energy snacks to keep us warm."
*special thanks to my former teaching partner Scott Thompson for sharing this weather philosophy with me.
Nudge # 2: A nudge to share the magic
Local weather brings local magic that's worth going outside to discover. Wind-shaken aspen leaves. Beach sand swirled up into sand beings. Rain freckles on worn deck boards. Dusk shadows. Can you still see the magic? Your wee grandchild offers you an incredible lens to see the world the way you used to as a child. Take them outside in search of icicle treasures, bubbles in the pond ice, and snowdrifts so strong they can hold your weight. Play and ponder. Look upside down and wonder.
Nudge # 3 A nudge for the wary
The view from your window is not to be trusted. Go outside and check the weather conditions for yourself. Great, wasn't that refreshing? Now add rain gear, wool socks, balaclavas, hot chocolate and the shelter of trees as needed.
Assess -> Adapt -> Adventure.
I recommend packing a few more warm and waterproof clothing and snack options, planning to be active while outdoors and staying within comfortable access to an indoor warm-up space.
That mug of warm tea you are clutching now will taste even better after you've been outside.
Nudge # 4 a nudge for the flustered
Even if you fail to get their thumb into the beepin' mitten thumbhole, dump your grandlump out of their sled a few hundred metres before noticing, and lose essential snacks in a snowbank, the process of getting outside and establishing patterns of regularly spending together time in nature is still a success. If you are anything like me, your graceful, patient and intuitive facilitation will only emerge after all the moments of awkwardness have been spent. Plan to respond with laughter and keep track of your top Nature Grandparenting bloopers so that you can swap stories with your grandparent buddies later.
Nudge # 5 A nudge for the lifelong learner
You know that old saying about all the learning available a few steps outside of your comfort zone? Just as the land can teach us, weather has lessons to teach us too. Obviously, start small, grow your skills and slowly expand the range of the weather conditions you are comfortable being immersed in with your grandmonster. Here are just a few weather teachings I've come to appreciate in my own life:
- How to respond
- How to dress in layers
- How to seek shelter in the landscape
- The importance of staying dry
- The way the wind changes the way the temperature feels
To conclude Nature Grandparents, are you waiting for sunshine and zero wind for your grandchild's sake or because that's what the weather looks like inside your comfort zone?