In the world where we spend more time online than in the company of our loved ones, human bonds seem to fade into the background in the race against fast internet connections. An increasing number of people have more friends on Facebook than in real life; we are more vocal about our sentiments on Twitter than in our own homes; we know the names of international celebrities but not our next-door neighbors: the tendency of inter-personal alienation does not seem to end – and it is due to our fault and negligence alone. Restoring the bonds with your family and enjoying your time together takes effort – and if you are lacking in the know-how, you can always turn to Mother Nature for inspiration. Turn off your smart devices and turn to nature for a quality change in life: the options are endless, you just need to take your pick.
Your kids can foster a lasting connection with nature without leaving the perimeter: baby steps towards a healthy lifestyle can begin in your own garden. Teach your kids how to make a birdhouse or go camping in the backyard; inspire them to plant a tree and look after it; tell them stories about garden fairies, leprechauns and their magical world. In the early childhood years, garden is the perfect staycation destination to add magic and wonder to every new day, and it is where the first seeds of love for nature are planted.
Venture into the woods
As your kids grow older, the garden spell will gradually wear off and the backyard may get too tight for their growing curiosity. Short trips to the forest or riverside may help preserve children’s interest in the environment, reinforce their bond with the environment and get them proper physical exercise for their age. Take your family fishing or birdwatching in the woods; encourage kids to take pictures of the forest flora, scout for signs of wildlife, build houses for little critters and engage in other fun forest activities. Through the eyes of a child, the forest and the river are places where miracles happen and surprises loom at every corner.
Camp it out
Camping is another excellent way for you and your family to rekindle your bond, connect with nature and learn new skills. Children learn best by practice, so show them how to put up a tent, make a fire, tie different types of knots or cook over open flames and let them pick up a new outdoor survival skill every time you go camping. (Bonus point: most children will be thrilled by the idea of sleeping outdoors, which will win you extra points for good parenthood.)
Home away from home
Quality time in the wild costs next to nothing, and you can even make your own cottage for weekend-long stays away from home. Shipping containers are a convenient option for would-be cottage owners: as you can see here, the steel units are durable, stackable and budget-friendly and can easily be transformed into anything you want them to be, including a weekend getaway with the essential amenities. Since container cottages can be easily transported to any location you think of, you can also use them as a makeshift home on wheels on summer holidays. Bunk beds are comfier than sleeping bags, after all.
Do not even try to come up with excuses to wriggle out of quality family time outdoors because:
• you do have the time for it, you just need to organize it well
• kids grow up fast and there is no compensation for a dull childhood
• you set the example for the kids to follow, so make it a good one
• family time outdoors costs nothing, but is worth more than all the money in the world
• you are responsible for your life and the life of your family, and it is up to you to make your time together count
Stop checking your business email and disconnect from the workplace outside your work hours, and spend some time with your loved ones in the lap of Mother Nature. There will always be work to do and chores to finish, but family time lost is gone for good.