Hiking, like most aspects of my life, has been completely altered since becoming a mom. Now I hike with and for my children — so they can get outside, slow down, play, and reap the many, many benefits that time outside offers. Research shows that time spent in nature is important for a child’s physical, mental, and emotional development. I am constantly amazed and overjoyed at how their time in nature raises my little ones’ spirits, increases their appetite for healthy foods, improves their sleep, and significantly reduces the crankiness factor.
But just recently I was reminded of the benefits that time in nature has on me. I recently joined seven other women on a hike around the Great Swamp and let me tell you, it was just what the doctor ordered. First of all, it was the first time in years that I hiked that distance and that quickly because I’m always with a couple sets of very little legs. So the physical exertion alone was great. But it was more than that. I don’t know about you, but this long, dreary winter certainly put me in quite a funk. I felt like the hike cleaned the cobwebs out of the attic. My mood lightened to pre-November status. Questions I’ve been laboring over about work, family, home improvement projects, finances, and more were suddenly and easily answered.
And I missed my kids. Now this might not seem like a big deal to some of you, but with little childcare when I work from home (sound familiar to anyone?), I rarely feel a longing sensation for other people around me. Especially ones who literally stick their heads up my you-know-what. In fact, I’m often trying to figure out how to keep the little critters occupied so I can send that email, plug those numbers, or craft that newsletter.
But with a bit of breathing space — sunlight to soak in, ospreys and herons and ducks to watch, the wind on my face — there was clarity and softness and rejuvenation. And best of all, I again have space in my heart and soul and mind for these magnificent people I share a home and life with.