One of the saddest things about the start of school is seeing my kids’ skin pale to a sickly gray because of all the time they spend indoors. They are lucky enough to attend schools with daily recess outside (hurray!). But school + riding on the school bus, after-school activities and homework = a lot less time outdoors.
Even in our relatively contained and unwild backyard, I can tell they let loose in ways essential to them. They move freely, talk openly. Younger Son has been concentrating on digging a small hole under the swing set. Older Son turned a worn out dehumidifier into a go-cart and then a Zamboni. They fight out there, too – usually when the poor neighbors are trying to enjoy their deck. But even arguments seem to resolve more easily outdoors (or maybe I just go inside where I cannot hear them… Well, I only do that sometimes.)
As we move into the stressful weeks of adjusting to new routines and expectations, I’m going to try hard to keep the good times going outside. Here’s my plan.
1. Watch the sun come up. I’ll take my cup of coffee and spend a few minutes outside with Older Son before he heads to the bus stop. Dramatic impact on his day? Maybe not. But in 10 minutes today we saw a beautiful moon set and enormous flock of migrating birds soar overhead. Not a bad start to a Monday.
2. After school, go directly outside. For Younger Son, this will mean playing on the school grounds after pick up or a stop at the playground if we have to run errands. At home, we will grab the bikes or work on a backyard project.
3. Dine al fresco. We should have at least another month of weather warm enough to enjoy snacks and meals on the picnic table.
4. Homework al fresco. My son likes his desk, so not sure this will be a winner. But I’ll try to interest him in a shaded-table work station or blanket in the grass.
5. Take evening walks. Talk about stress relief. Also a good time to review for quizzes, discuss life problems, plot plans for the future. Haha – I have a pre-teen, it’s more likely to be begrudging silence. I can live with that.