By Jeanine Silversmith

Recently, I helped a few friends out by watching their children. As a mother, I am certain I’m not built for more than two, so I was a bit nervous adding some fairly young ones into the mix. But these are good friends, and I jumped at each chance to help them out. Because, you know, a friend in need is a friend indeed. (Or is it “in deed”? Ever wonder? So did I — enough to find out more.)

kids-outsideWith four or five children under the age of 6, I could go on and on about the moments (er, hours?) of insanity. Like when the 2 year old spilled the fish out of its tank: “Oh! Dat fishy go plop!” Or when the 18 month old sobbed for 2 hours straight on my kitchen floor: “Mama. Sniff. Mama. Sniff. Mama. Sniff.” Or when the two strong-willed girls (my own included) played tug of war over a princess dress: “Riiiiipppppp!

Get the picture?

When I was completely overwhelmed and all the diapers were clean, we headed outside. Turns out the 2 year old was more than happy to play with dirt and dirt can’t suffocate. The weepy 18 month old is soothed by bubbles. The 4 and 5 year olds had more than enough space and toys outside to stay out of each others’ way. And I could take a deep breath (or a few dozen) of fresh air, let it out slowly, and enjoy observing their completely age-appropriate and downright delightful interactions.

So now, when I am faced with a “situation,” I remember: “When in doubt, take them out.”

Jeanine is a self-described tree hugging, science and math geek whose love of nature, coupled with her absolute certainty that people, especially children, are happier, healthier, and wiser when they regularly spend time in nature, led her to establish Rhode Island Families in Nature. She loves to run, garden, bake, hike, and go camping, especially when accompanied by her husband, Ian, her daughter, Sierra, and her son, Devin. They live in Wakefield.