Do you ever feel you and your family spend too much time connected to technology and not enough time outdoors enjoying everything nature has to offer?
There’s a term that’s been coined to describe this lack of exposure to the natural world: ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’, part of an ever-growing body of scientific and political research that shows people who lack a proper connection with the natural world suffer with respiratory disorders, mental health issues, heart conditions and allergies.
There’s even been a day created to respond to this: National Unplugging Day, designed to encourage families to spend the entire day without any technology.
To celebrate National Unplugging Day, parenting journalist and acclaimed author of How to Unplug Your Child Liat Hughes Joshi has joined forces with Forest Holidays to provide some tips on the best ways to put down smartphones and tablets and give your kids the freedom to connect with nature and enjoy the outdoors, just as they used to only a decade ago:
• If you feel like your own area isn’t suited to leaving your children to explore or play, look for other opportunities for them to do so - occasionally is better than never. What about at the grandparents’? When visiting other relatives or on holiday?
As my granny used to say, ‘a bit of rain never hurt anyone’
• Try not to fret about bad weather – as my granny used to say, ‘a bit of rain never hurt anyone’. A set of decent waterproofs and some wellies will keep kids dry but even without there’s little harm in getting a bit soggy now and then.
• Likewise, stop any worrying about clothes getting ruined. Some mud and muck should be part of what being a kid is about and hey, chances are there is hot running water for a bath or shower back at ‘base camp’.
Some mud and muck should be part of what being a kid is about
• With this in mind, ensure each child always has at least one ‘not for best’ set of clothes that can get trashed without it being the end of the world. You might even need to overtly tell more cautious offspring that they won’t be in trouble if they get a bit grubby out there.
• Let your children explore their way and pursue what they’re interested in. Give them the chance to discover that they love jumping between fallen tree trunks or in muddy puddles. Allow them the space to collect daisies, interesting stones or leaves. Make time to avoid the ‘helicopter parenting’ and scheduling that’s becoming inherent to modern family life.
Allow them the space to collect daisies, interesting stones or leaves
• Don’t be afraid to take a step back and leave them to it in a fairly safe environment. Note the use of the word ‘fairly’ as nowhere is totally free from dangers. Encountering the odd knock and fall is part of growing up and helps children learn about sensible risk taking. Let them run on ahead if there are no roads in the area for example.
• We all want to keep our children out of harm’s way but watch out for any parental over-protectiveness stifling their confidence and exploration too much. Leave them to climb that tree and learn how far to go with minimal guidance – challenge yourself to let go a little if you tend to err towards overly-close supervision.
Interested in more of Liat Hughes Joshi’s tips? Check out her guide for kids, parents and grandparents on how to enjoy ‘multi-gen’ holidays - click here
Sophie is a journalist and mum of one, and previously edited motherandbaby.co.uk before moving on to write about family cars for Parkers.co.uk - now Sophie is Commercial Content Editor for M&B, Closer, Heat, Empire, and WhatsTheBest.co.uk
She is passionate about raising awareness around postnatal depression and is a Mental Health First Aider.