I like to be outside with my favorite children

I like to be outside with my favorite children.

When I told my kids I was going to be starting a blog about families and the outdoors and asked what I should write, that was their answer.

I like to be outside with my favorite children.

There you have it.

*crosses blogging off to-do list*

*heads out for a walk*

Oh. You want more? Huh. Okay.

I like to be outside with my favorite children because being outside makes my family happier, in all ways. Exercise and fresh air are great, yes, but family peace is even better. While in the house my two kids can find ways to argue over everything from a spot on the couch to a piece of yarn (yes, that actually happened), but outside they seem to get along much better. Maybe it’s because there are always enough pine cones to go around, or maybe it’s simply having more personal space, but everything is much calmer outside. They still fight, yes, but significantly less so. Or maybe I just don’t hear the fighting as much when they are out in the woods. That’s very possible and I’m just fine with it.

My son sprinting his way through the woods.

My son sprinting his way through the woods.

I like to be outside with my favorite children because they, and we, learn things. The outdoors for us is one big natural science lab. I want them to understand how it all works, where they fit into it, and how it can all fall apart. You can’t learn that from a book. You need to be in it, watching it, observing it, learning from it. I don’t want nature to be something my kids underestimate, are scared of, or, worst of all, ignore. They look, they question, they discover, they learn.

I like to be outside with my favorite children because an endless stream of studies shows that being outside is good for kids. It makes them healthier in all ways, improves their vision, can reduce ADHD symptoms, improves their mental health and reduces stress. Also, dirt is good for them.  And that’s just what the formal studies say; the anecdotal evidence is even more convincing.

For all of these reasons, we prioritize outside time. My husband and both work full-time, but we make sure that, no matter the weather, we get out there as much as we can. We hike, we look at stars, we build snowmen, we catch frogs, we fish. Sometimes that means I have to put off doing dishes in order to take advantage of a particularly nice day, but I? I am a loving mother and I am willing to make that sacrifice.

What it comes down to is this: my kids are Maine kids. I think it’s important that they understand what the Maine heritage means, and not just on an intellectual level. I want them to know about the Wabanaki, schooner captains, log drivers, and Margaret Chase Smith, yes, but I also want them to know what low tide in July smells like. I want them to know, really know, the feel of iced-over snow under their boots, the chitter of an angry red squirrel, and how tropical 30 degrees feel son your skin after it’s been -20 for two weeks. I want them to feel lonesome on a mountain, peaceful in a pine wood, and triumphant at a lakeside. You can’t, in my opinion, understand Maine people without understanding the Maine outdoors. One creates the other. It’s part of what makes us, us.

And you know what else?

I like to be outside with my favorite children.

Maybe you do too. If so, come on back.

Cherie Galyean

About Cherie Galyean

In a perfect world, Cherie Galyean would spend hours every day chasing her kids up hiking trails, pretending to garden, and baking things. Instead, she works full-time in the non-profit sector and fits those other things in-between loads of laundry in her free time. A Maine native with multiple hometowns, she currently lives on Mount Desert Island with her husband, seven-year-old daughter, five-year-old son, and the best shelter mutt in the world.