It is amazing the effect getting outdoors, with the family can have on the soul. In today’s day and age, it is far too easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of a technology fuelled life and forget about the simple things in life. By simple, I mean bringing life right back to basics – getting outside together, talking to each other, appreciating the amazing country that we live in and simply enjoying each other’s company.
This weekend was Clean Up Australia Day. Like many community run events, this is an amazing time to get outdoors and spend time with the kids, chatting and educating them on the environment. It’s the conversations I saw whilst participating in this event with my four year old son, and the family time together that have prompted this blog.
Many parents speak to me about the difficulty they have speaking with their children, or getting them to talk about their day. The following example is pretty standard:
“How was school today?”
“What did you do today?”
“I don’t remember.” or “Nothing”
The number one issue with these conversations is that they are forced. Communicating with kids is all about engaging at their level, talking about topics that they want to discuss. Combine this with a fresh air, outdoor activity and you’ll be amazed at the conversations that will follow.
So here are my TOP TIPS for engaging conversation with your children:
- What are they doing? Get down to their level and join in the activity. Your child will soon start talking about the game or activity and from here, you can gently guide the conversation
- The above principles apply for older children/teenagers too, you just might be tuning in through a favourite band or celebrity, rather than a game on the floor
- Go for a walk! Children LOVE being outside and fresh air is good for everybody. While running, hopping, skipping or chasing, the happy endorphins will flow and so will the conversation. Remember – let them choose the topic, enjoy the moment and conversation together
- Although your child may ‘think’ their favourite activity is playing on an iPad, trust your instincts and get them to a park. This might be a regular park, a skate park or even a bush trail. Kids love exploring and they soon won’t be able to help but to get involved. Tell them how impressed you are with their skills, let the conversation flow from there. Ask them how they did it? (Climbed the ladder, jumped the ramp, discovered a creature, etc.)
- Simply be in the moment with your child. Turn off your phone, watch what they really are doing, listen to what they really are saying and be a part of their moment. This is by far the greatest gift you can give your child as a parent, your undivided attention
- Don’t force it! If they don’t want to talk, don’t make them. Just be there, alongside them, joining in with whatever it is they are doing. Imagine if we had someone in our life who would just let us be, whilst being there? Pretty special right?
Life with children can get stressful, but it can also be beautifully simple. Grab the kids, grab a blanket and watch the clouds. The answer to peace and quiet is not on an iPad, and it’s nothing to do with ‘crazy noise’. It’s the rush inside our heads that causes the stress and we could all do with some fresh air and outdoor time, as much as the kids.
So get outside and enjoy the moment x