Out side in all weather. Really? All weather... 

Lately we've been having some cold, wet weather and lots no-show meet ups for the Family Nature Club. This time we met at the Regional Park, which was my most popular outing last time, but this time no one. I told myself the same thing I've been saying so often the last two months: its just the cold weather. 

I know how tempting it is to just say home, especially with hot/cold weather. Some times I wonder if I wasn't hosting these events, how committed I would be. Not just because of the weather, so many great activities and important responsibilities are vying for our attention. With kids, just getting out the door on a perfect day can be a challenge. What more when we think about all the extra preparation and work of dealing with the rain. But the truth is: We can always think of an excuse. Rarely is there the perfect weather or time of day or season. There can always be a reason why we don’t do something and I’m guilty of it myself. 

I’ve been reading about programs that have an “outside in all weather” philosophy. Even to me, the idea seemed ambitious, but I’ve really opened up to it.. slowly. But I know its important to get outside even when the weather isn’t the perfect sunny 75 degrees because if we wait for only those days, we would rarely be outside. It's not easy but I’ve made a little commitment to myself to not make excuses anymore. Sometimes I find myself making excuse like "she's too young - it will be easier next year when she keeps her hat on and doesn’t fall down into puddles." But next  year, there will just be another excuse and another.
No more excuses. 

Family Nature Club Reflection 4.0

We're now two months into our family nature club, so I thought it would be a good time to introduce some routines, traditions, and activities. I want to keep our outings relaxing and mostly unstructured, but I also want to support traditions and routines the kids can become familiar and comfortable with. After reading the Coyote's Guide, one way I choose to do this was by creating our own group version of a sit spot.

The idea behind a sit spot is that its a place you visit frequently; a space you can really get to know and build attachment with. One of my favorite things about a sit spot is if you consistently visit over a long enough period of time, you can observe the subtle changes that happen through the seasons and over the years. 

I decided that I would try out this practice with our group by choosing one place we visit monthly throughout the year. My sit spot choice was the regional park because when we have met here in the past its a popular outing. Also, its somewhere most people in our community know about. Plus, it's along the river which means its great for seasonal change.

Visiting once a month might not be develop a sit spot to its full potential but in a casual group with limited consistency, its a good start. Hopefully it will provide an opportunity to introduce the sit spot idea and encourage families and the children to find their very own sit spot that they can visit alone more often.

2 RSVPs, 2 no-shows. No one showed up to this meetup. Instead, my daughter and I just spend an hour wandering around, walking in the grass, and investigating some just-her-sized rocks. Having no one show up for this first time got me thinking about some of the different aspects of organizing these meetups; from the little details to the more philosophical.

First, I started to reconsider the day and time of our meetups. At first, I thought Thursday afternoons were great so that families with older kids could attend and Thursdays wouldn’t compete with the many activities vying for families time on the weekends. However, it has started getting dark by 6:30 and cold even earlier, so I think this has started to scare off some of the families with younger kids. Based on our first meetup when both moms were 30 minutes late, I also suspect that families are running around between the time school get out until dinner, trying to get things like homework done.

It also enticed me to think about some of the bigger issues behind why this happened. Why, out of almost 1000 families in our meetup group (and in fact over 1 million people in our city), was I sitting alone with my daughter at the park on a beautiful afternoon. What are the underlying causes of lack of time spent in nature? This resource is a part of our community, but it goes underutilized.