I admit that I have often complained that there’s no nature in the city; that the only way to truly get in touch with the outdoors is to head out of town. But the truth is, nature is here. Sometimes I just have to stop, look and listen for a while to get back in touch.
Connecting to nature is continually getting easier for our family, mostly because we keep at it. Here’s what we do to keep nature at the forefront of our often busy, city life:
EXPLORE THE BACKYARD
Even as I began this blog last September, I was convinced there was nothing remotely interesting or natural in my back or front yard for my kids to explore. How could there be when all we have is a small space filled with concrete, some plastic toys and a couple of trees?
In fact, I thought that connecting with nature was something left for weekends when there was enough time to visit a zoo, aquarium or park.
Boy, have things changed! My backyard is now our go-to spot for outdoor fun. It’s easily accessible, never crowded, free and an ever-evolving space for growing imaginations.
What is our backyard teaching us about nature? We’ve learned that there are tons of birds that call our trees home. Now that spring has arrived, we see new visitors every day, like butterflies and hummingbirds.
We’re working on creating a welcoming environment in our yard with bird feeders and plants. When we can’t find bugs, we summon them by placing a pot upside down in the dirt. By the next day, it’s amazing what’s shown up!
The backyard is also a great place to dig in the dirt, blow bubbles, climb a tree, plant a garden or build a fort. It doesn’t matter how big or small your outdoor space is. Just get out there and play.
If you need some inspiration, my backyard fun posts are designed to get your little ones discovering nature in just a few minutes.
DISCOVER THE NEIGHBORHOOD’S WILD SIDE
Not only do we love exploring the backyard, we also take advantage of all there is to discover in the rest of the neighborhood, usually during our evening walks. This is especially important if you don’t have any outdoor space of your own.
How do neighborhood walks help connect us with nature? Sometimes during our nighttime neighborhood walks we go on a nature scavenger hunt. Or we look for flowers or wild creatures. Sometimes we take listening walks or walks under the moonlight. The landscape is ever changing and all it takes is a little creativity to spark your kids’ interest in the natural world just beyond their front yard.
We've also taken advantage of our school garden. Don't have one? Consider joining a community garden to give your little ones a chance to dig in the dirt, see life emerge, then eat something they grow themselves!
PLAN FAMILY NATURE OUTINGS
I long for quiet spaces, tall trees, the sound of running water and other reminders of the wild. So I plan family nature outings whenever I can.
The goal is to take a few hours and head somewhere to explore the outdoors. It can be as simple as a trip to the farmers’ market, a picnic at a local state park or a morning at the nearby botanical gardens. I like to go as a family because it’s a great way to slow down and reconnect with each other.
I’ve written about many of our adventures here (and will continue to do so) in the hopes that I’ll inspire some of you to see that nature play isn’t out of reach for us city dwellers. All it takes is a willingness to get outside and discover.
I’d love to hear what you think about finding nature in the city. Add a comment and let me know what challenges you face and how you overcome them. I’d love to hear from you!