Christmastide: Forest, Farm, Field and Stream

 

The wonder of the days of Christmastide are upon us!  Parents are often amazed that small children who are loud, noisy, and yes, even destructive in the house can be focused, quiet and attentive in an outdoor space.  Cultivating stillness, quiet and peacefulness is so important to the foundation of childhood.  These are qualities all of us need as human beings!  Perhaps we ever crave it and even as adults are in pursuit of it as we create beautiful works of art and music, grand architecture, and invent new things.  But the roots of these grand excursions perhaps lie in the smallest and most ordinary of moments in the outdoor world from when we were young.  If we close our eyes, perhaps we can remember snippets from our own childhood, being outside in all kinds of weather.  How does the wind before a storm feel in your hair or on your skin?  What is the sight of the clouds before it snows?  What are the sounds of a meadow on a hot, hazy day?  These are sensations for the soul.

So, during these twelve joyous and beautiful days of Christmastide, I invite you to come with me, where we shall spend our days connecting with nature in the forest, farm, field or stream!

In order to do this, you will need to identify your favorite local places of nature and make plans.  This can be as simple as walking out your door and finding the tree you love most on your city block, or making plans to visit a State or National Park to which you have never been!  Twelve joyous days of being with nature.

The second piece of this is that in many areas of the world right now, the weather can either be very hot or very cold, so thinking ahead to proper attire for the whole family will make things enjoyable for everyone.  For those of you interested in forest, farm, field and stream attire for colder/wetter zones, the book “Forest Kindergartens: The Cedarsong Way” by Erin K Kenny, recommends the following specific brands for young children:

  • Bogs Boots
  • Jackets:  Columbia Omnitech or Bugaboo
  • Silk or Wool Long Underwear (I like to get mine at Green Mountain Organics)
  • Rain Pants:  Oakiwear, Lands End or REI rain pants
  • Mittens:  Gordoni or Outdoor Research brands

I would love to hear about any of your excursions into forest, field, farm or stream or your local city block.  What did you see? What senses were enlivened in you and your children?  Please post your thoughts or even a picture here in the comments, or on Twitter @ParentingHearth.

More tomorrow as we continue our harmonious Christmastide with the glorious Creation!  Let Heaven and Nature Sing!

In Joy,
Carrie

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5 thoughts on “Christmastide: Forest, Farm, Field and Stream

  1. Great post Carrie. It gives me ideas for what to do in these next days. Although it was fun, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day did not have the magic and reverence that I long for. ( our solstice ritual was excellent, though, and my conventional husband was a real trooper!) It”s to the forest for us!

  2. This is so lovely and so in line with how our family celebrates…well…all year long. 🙂 When we count down to Christmas, I do a calendar that lasts for my children through to the new year, because the let down of Christmas can feel deep, but having magic to look forward to all month long is special. I have had special requests from my kids to have time to create some outdoor gnome magic, which is just perfect for this week.

  3. Oh, this is wonderful! Thank you for encouraging families to enjoy the magic of the season outside. We spend every Christmas with our friends who live in a log home in the woods off-grid. It is wondrous to teach our child about saving electricity (even more than we do at home), warming by the wood stove, washing hands in a pan of warm water, instead of having running water, and trips to the outhouse! Christmas afternoon, we walked a few miles in the dark by flashlight, across streams and over a boggy tidal zone for dinner with more friends. With the full moon shining, and snow falling, we danced and sang Christmas carols and other songs with a small group of merry musicians. And back home on foot with a tired but merry child NOT falling asleep in the backpack. 😉

    We live far north, with very short days at this time of year, and it is sometimes difficult to get a lot of time outside. We counter that as much as possible by not only making the most of the daylight we do have but also by getting out for flashlight walks. We live in a village with streetlights, and so we enjoy “glow walks” as our daughter calls them. And there’s a small, perfect sledding hill nearby with a streetlight right over it. Perfect for late afternoon, pre-dinner sledding!

    However, we also have a lot of winter days that are 40 degrees with rain. SO uninspiring for outdoor play. We still go out every day for an hour or more, but after that, we are inside with the mini-trampoline, crawling tunnel, rocker board, balloons and more! And lots of art and sensory play help us get through the winter.

    While this all sounds dreamy (and it is), of course, our life is like everyone else’s…at times stressful, messy, fussy, mundane, and all the rest. Parenting a small child kicks my bum every day, and I’m so grateful to be able to turn to this blog, and others, for advice and inspiration!

    Something I can offer is advice about GEAR!!! Grunden rain bibs. Worth saying again: Grunden rain bibs. Made to last. Expensive, but worth it, and they can be passed down in the family or around to friends. Wearing bibs instead of rain pants keeps clothes clean and dry, even when your child is sliding and splashing, in the woods or on the playground. And they are actually easier to get on and off than rain pants. They are bright orange with reflective strips around the legs, offering great visibility for safety. AND the very best part…pop them on top of snow gear, and you have an instant sled! Your young child can slide down snow hills without a sled! (Of course, we sled, too, but this is such a fun option for young children, and the kids love it.)

    Kamik rubber snow boots with wool insert booties offer great traction and warmth and keep kids dry in wet and slushy conditions. Wigwam wool socks, or any wool sock that fits well and does not slide down and scrunch up uncomfortably.

    Hats that have flaps that go down over the ears and around the sides of the cheeks are really helpful. Hoods offer extra protection from wind and snow going down the back of the neck, but hoods do not offer enough warmth by themselves, in my opinion, and they are always falling off.

    And do not skimp on YOUR gear, mommys and daddys! If you are wet and cold, your patience level will rapidly decline, making outside time no fun at all. Second hand stores, Goodwill, and your friends’ and family members’ closets are filled with low cost or free gear for children and adults of all ages. Being warm and having fun outside can be accomplished in an affordable way!

    Have fun outside and THANK YOU, CARRIE!
    Chris

  4. Pingback: Advent for All Ages | The Parenting Passageway

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