How My Kids Taught Me To Slow Myself Down
We warned the kids ahead of time, but no matter how much warning we give, they don’t always give up their electronics willingly. On this particular Saturday, we were headed onto a piece of public land in South Dakota to stretch our legs, get out of the house, and ultimately take down our tree stand for the season.
Brian and I are not inherently anti-electronics. These devices are a very real part of this generation’s culture. They don’t have to be perceived as bad, as long as there are rules in place. However, Brian and I also understand the role and value of nature in the health of our family, as well as, individually. This means we try to get outside and do a meaningful activity each weekend, at the very least; more if the time permits in our schedules, depending on time of year. So, they handed over their devices, put on their hiking gear and loaded into the truck.
Once we arrive on site, the fun almost immediately begins. Kids need to be bored. Lack of instructions leads to ultimate creativity. And it only took a few minutes within the hike for each kid to become enthralled with something; Elle with the sticky gooey mud and Jakob with the melting waterways. These types of adventures, however, are not just for the kids. Sometimes I actually think they are more for my sanity than anything.
Often times, as adults, we can find ourselves focused on the end goal, but kids have a way of enjoying the journey at a much higher rate than the destination. Our kids have the innate ability to slow us down. They find some of the simplest items in nature intriguing and exciting. As we were walking along, our 12 year old son, Jakob, noticed the melting snow that was running down the side of the hill we were hiking along. He noticed, in a few areas, that the melting snow was being obstructed. He quickly picked up a stick and began digging out the waterway to ease the flow of water. I tried to rush him along, at first, as Brian and Elle had continued ahead to get the tree stand down and I felt we needed to join them. But Jakob was adamant we stayed. He wanted to work on the flowing water all the way down the path to the bottom.
What I realize when I surrender to his wishes, is that I learn a lot about my kids and the immense mental capacity they have soaking in everything around them. Jakob taught me about meandered waterways; something he had been learning about in school. It’s so much fun to see him connect the dots between science class and the outdoors.
At the bottom of the hill, was the culmination of where all the water was collecting. The flatland was flooded and while I, as an adult, was trying to find the easiest way across, Jakob, as a child, was already using his imagination, treating it like a case of “survival”. He is fascinated by the idea of “survival” in intense situations, and I really enjoy when that part of his imagination kicks in. Again, it slowed me down and I followed his lead. I want him to learn to be a leader. It is not my job as mom to be a dictator. I am raising children that will grow up to be productive members of society. I want leaders that can make a way for themselves, not followers that need direction and reassurance with each decision to be made. This concept carries over in how we treat our children, especially in these types of situations where the children are free to learn and make mistakes in nature. A boot that gets filled with water, is a valuable learning opportunity.
Later, we stumbled upon a deer carcass that had been consumed by a coyote. Elle was fascinated by the bones and how clean they were, not to mention the hair that was spread across the ground like a blanket. As we were walking out, we happened to come across coyote scat that contained deer hair; another great teaching moment that connected the dots for our kids.
Take the time this weekend and let your children lead your day's adventure, no matter what it may be. Let them make the decisions on which direction to go shed hunting, or which part of the lake to go fishing, etc. Help them learn to make their own decisions, and allow yourself to slow down and enjoy how fun it is to see your children find excitement in the simple things in life.
You can check out a video of this day’s adventure on our YouTube channel by clicking here! And please subscribe to our channel as we grow it!