Being :: Out of Doors

August 23, 2012

Being: Conscious, mortal existence; life.

Every month we welcome two families, two people, two voices to share their stories in whatever way they chose. We hope that you find joy in their daily lives, and their simple habit of just being.

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As a mother I think we all have those days now and again. You know the ones, right? The ones that seem to sneak up on you, can happen for no reason or for good reasons like being out of coffee, not having the right jam for your picky eater’s toast, or that little one that wakes up cranky, quickly spreading discontent among the ranks. I have found that there is only one cure for such days: the outdoors.

Sometimes even the best, most resilient of us need a change. I remember years ago when I was a mama to three under the age of three living in a tiny box of an apartment, feeling like I was drowning. I spent the morning leaning over the kitchen counter drinking coffee and reading poetry, hungrily crawling through words and lines trying to find an escape from the inglorious mess in which I was standing. And there in the words of Emily Dickinson, I found the wisdom I needed:

NATURE, the gentlest mother,
Impatient of no child,
The feeblest or the waywardest,—
Her admonition mild

I realized that given the spell of damp, grey days we’d been experiencing, we had been cooped up in that apartment for far too long. We needed fresh air, an expanse of sky overhead. I packed a basket of snacks, water bottles, some diapers. I bundled us up and herded us out the door to the nearest park. We arrived to discover an empty park, equipment and fields abandoned by all but the squirrels. Undaunted, I spread our blanket, settled in with the baby and watched the older two kids running aimlessly, cheeks pinkening, and I sighed the biggest of sighs. Release. Occasionally we just need a change of scenery to rekindle our sense of wonder. The outdoors hasn’t failed us yet.

Those three children are older and two more have been added to the mix. We live in a house now, albeit a small house, and we have a yard. We lost three trees to Hurricane Gustav but our beloved magnolia is still growing strong. It is under the shade of those sprawling branches that I often find my kids, sprawled on a blanket, sometimes drawing, sometimes laying on their backs cloud watching. There are mornings that we’ll gather for school under that tree because we must be outside.

This summer has found us under that tree in the mornings, math lessons tackled without complaint so that there is plenty of time for exploration and hanging from branches before the brutal heat of the day moves in. Come autumn, you’ll find us there for lunch at least once a week, the baby asleep on the quilt beside me, my book open in my lap while the kids draw and read. If it’s a rainy day and we must get out, we put on our rubber boots and walk around the neighborhood.

We have found there is a lightness that comes from being outside. The children are centered, more focused. This mama finds time to breathe, to lose herself in revery while the kids are exploring the world of wonder at their fingertips.

To make it easier to get out:
* Keep a dedicated basket at the ready. Ours includes a few empty jars for collecting, some homemade bug balm, a magnifying glass, a few diapers and a wetbag, a toy for the baby, as well as a jar or two with non-perishable snacks (we currently have a jar of raisins and a jar of pumpkin seeds).
* We have several blankets for our outdoor adventures. We usually use a quilt but have also used a sheet in a pinch. When the ground is damp, we use one of the vinyl tablecloths with flannel back I picked up on clearance for this purpose.
* I usually have a basket with a book, my knitting, and my camera in it. I carry my water bottle and the water bottles for the younger two kids.
* The three older kids usually bring their nature journals, pencils, field guides or books that they’re reading, and their own bottles.

This month we are so very pleased to be welcoming Amanda as a contributor to the Being series.  Amanda is a homeschooling mother of five who lives in the deep south and writes with wit, humor and honesty on her blog, The Habit of Being. We hope that you will stop by each Thursday to share in Amanda’s reflections.

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Rhythm of the Home is an online magazine for families that focuses on creating with children, nature explorations, seasonal celebrations, conscious parenting, and mindfulness in all that we do.   To learn more about us, please visit us on Facebook,Pinterest, and Twitter.

We welcome new submissions for our upcoming seasons. To learn more about submitting, please visit our magazine.

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{ 4 comments }

Alexandra August 23, 2012 at 8:42 am

Amanda – What a great reflection, and I have found this so true as well. I seem to have a very short-term memory about this “cure,” however . . .it still takes me a while to realize when we are all disgruntled, what we need to do. Even rainy weather is a good time to splash in puddles with the right boots. Thanks for a great reminder and I love your tips about keeping a basket ready to make it even easier! -Alexandra

amanda {the habit of being} August 26, 2012 at 9:58 am

Thank you Alexandra!

sara @ making life August 28, 2012 at 8:46 am

Amanda,
We have experienced this so many times. Out the door, suddenly the crazy all melts away. Lovely post!!
Sara

Stephinie (GypsyMama) August 28, 2012 at 1:40 pm

another beautiful post!

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