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Around here this week. Montessori Materials at Three Months.

My Top Parenting Book of 2017! + At what age do you allow your children to free-range?

There's No Such Thing As Bad Weather at HWM

Do you feel the pull to get your children outdoors more? My children spend time outdoors but often it is at my request or during organized activities. I want to create a culture, a family norm where we have regular, unstructured play outdoors that is entirely child led

There's No Such Thing As Bad Weather: A Scandinavian Mom's Secrets for Raising Healthy, Resilient and Confident Kids (from Friluftsliv to Hygge) has been life-changing for me. I listened to it as an audiobook (mostly while doing those school runs). It's written by a parent, not by a parenting expert, and it's just what I needed to not only get my children outdoors more but allow them to free-range. 

This is a book about one parent's journey in America and Sweden with her two children. It's lighthearted and a pleasure to listen to. It's fascinating to hear how different the cultures (American and Swedish) are and how this impacts our parenting, our children and eventually our health. It also highlights that as parents we can work really hard to develop an outdoors culture but the environment and society around us are really important, for example, our school outdoor play policies and even the policies governing access to our public places (such as nature parks) have a huge impact. Listening to this book makes me desperately want to move to Sweden! 

The author offers some valuable tips that we can implement straight away, and others will be useful in our move to the UK including information on how to layer clothing for outdoor play in the cold and snow. There are tips on sleeping babies outdoors to teaching environmentalism from eating organic, local, fair trade, composting, reduce, reuse and recycle.

I loved the sections in which the author discusses her community and the importance of being surrounded by like-minded parents and also her discussion on being proactive in her community. It is to be noted that this isn't a how-to guide, it is more of a personal journey with lessons that we can all take on board. 

The first change I made in our home was to implement daily outside play, I wanted to make it a habit and it was something we were lacking since Otto has been born (he's now three months old). I've learnt that with children, doing something daily eventually makes it a habit. It's worked with the boys doing things like emptying their lunchboxes after school, I request that they do it every day and within a week or so they just do it out of habit. Sure enough a week or so of asking the boys to play outdoors after school they begin doing it without asking. It should be noted the boys hike weekly with their Dad, this is always special 'Dad time' but I'm sure it instills a connection to nature. 

The second change I made was to allow the boys to free-range and go to the park by themselves. This was and still is huge for our family. It's a big deal to allow your children out in the world by themselves without any adult supervision. We have some rules such as how far they can go and that they must under all circumstances stay together. Caspar is 10 and Otis is 6 so I feel that there is more harm in not allowing them, than allowing them this opportunity. We took it slowly, first, we would all go to the park and I would go home and ask them to come home in five minutes. Then I had them go to the park and I would meet them there ten to fifteen minutes later. A slow start gave me confidence. Since allowing them this opportunity I feel like they have grown in maturity and have a sense of pride about going out by themselves. They have been spending much more time outdoors and their play has changed too, they have become much more creative rather than just playing on the park play equipment. This makes outdoor play and exploration the norm, this allows the children to become independent and have consistent and longer periods of time outdoors as they are not reliant on an adult, and it provides for new social and environmental (learning and connectedness) opportunities.

I've listened to and read a lot of parenting books this year but this one is my number one, mainly because of the impact it's had on our family. I'd love to hear if your children free-range or walk to the park or to school by themselves and at what age they started! I wouldn't allow Otis out by himself but we allow him to go with his brother. Perhaps it depends on your neighborhood or the temperament of your child?

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