Revisiting Childhood Through My Toddler’s Eyes

Over the last few weeks, I have struggled to find time to write for this blog. I am not sure where this time slot went, as it doesn’t feel that life has changed that much. However, after thinking about it this afternoon, I think I figured it out. The time normally spent for writing has been absorbed by me spending more time outside.

Now, this activity is not unusual for me, because I just love being outside. Whether it is playing with the family, running, gardening, washing cars, eating a meal, or cleaning something, it’s just more fun to do under the sun. Since we have lived in the southern part of the country for the last few years, I have ample opportunity for this.

But why the sudden change? After all, it has been warm outside for the last few months, so I’ve been playing outside since February.

Maybe it is because my plants are growing, and they need to be tended to. Maybe it is because we are in the midst of a drought, and there is a lot more required care for the yard. Maybe it is because we have been running more frequently. Maybe it is because the little guy loves being outside just as much as I do.

I think the last one is the most likely culprit, and my momma heart is thrilled about it.

My childhood was spent outside. Running around with friends, playing hide and seek, climbing trees, spying on the neighbors (ha!), playing a lot of basketball, washing cars, riding bikes, and all other kinds of tomfoolery were best enjoyed under the gaze of the sun. Even as an adult, I just love being able to get out and feel the breeze on my face every day. I’m guess I’m like a plant, minus the chlorophyll.

Our little guy turned two recently, and he has gotten a few more outside toys, like a swing-set, a water table, and a tricycle. He absolutely loves all of these toys, and we play with them all nearly everyday. When given an opportunity to go outside, he almost always says “oh yeah”. Coming back inside the house is nearly certain to be met with refusals, tears, and the word “no”.

I am thrilled that he loves to be outside. It’s just the best way to grow up. It’s so sad to see kids of this young generation that are more content to be behind a screen. There is a whole big world out there! You miss out on life when you are staring at a screen. The people that lived generations before us were able to live life, enjoy themselves, and raise their children without the aid of screens, and we can too.

Continuing with my humble opinion, movies are fine in moderation, but continued loops of TV/movies or apps on an iPad are just brain melters for kids and babysitters for parents. Investing in the lives, hearts, and minds of our kids is simply too important for us all to be constantly distracted.

Getting out of the house gets us out of our rut, which is where we can easily become distracted. When we get outside, we see animals, plants, other people, the sky, beautiful landscapes, and so much more. Our bodies absorb vitamin D from the sun’s rays, and the simple calm of the outdoors lowers stress and anxiety. Sure, we have to be careful about being hydrated and protected from the harmful UV rays, but it’s worth it. I just don’t think we were created to spend so much time inside and away from the natural world.

Back to the little man.

Since becoming a parent, I have become increasingly aware of the importance of daily positive habits, specifically as it relates to the little toddler man. We need to eat mostly healthy food, we need to limit our TV time (that is the only screen our little kiddo gets), and we need to get outside every day. A harmonious home does not happen by accident — it takes work and intentionality.

For the little guy to have a good day and sleep well at night, we have to spend a good amount of time outside. He has to be able to move freely, without being limited by walls, breakable things, or what he is allowed to touch. He can run around, play in dirt, help me weed or water the plants, get messy, chase bugs, find flowers, and test his limits freely.

We never know what we are going to encounter when we go outside. In the past week, we have seen fighter jets circling our city, a Navy cargo plane, a bunny, a skink, butterflies, birds, cats, dogs, bugs, cars, trucks, dump trucks, bulldozers, and dragonflies, just to mention a few. We also got to see and touch a baby hammerhead shark at the beach this weekend! The little guy loves seeing these new things, and I love pointing them out to him.

I asked him this morning if he remembered seeing a bunny yesterday, and he said that he did (yay)! He is at the age where he is so interactive and curious. I love being able to pour into him by showing him new things everyday.

Being outside of our home’s environment opens up a whole new world to him. As he grows, I want him to think of outside as being the most fun place to be. It will foster a love of freedom, plants, animals, and physical activity. It builds curiosity, courage, resiliency, and independence. These are all things that I got to experience and grew to love while I was growing up, and I want the same for him.

Without even realizing it, this desire has pulled us outside even more frequently, which has led to less time for me to get things done inside while the toddler is awake. Nap time has now become solely catch up time, as opposed to catch up time + mommy time, and that’s ok. If I need to rework my day to make the time to play, clean, cook, and write, it will be well worth it 🙂

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