It also is a time we really connect and truly enjoy each others’ company.
One of our favorite family activities is going to the Brenton Arboretum in Dallas Center. It has an amazing natural playscape where we can climb the fallen tree, build with branches and stumps, and play “the sand is lava” as we hop across on wood rounds.
Beyond the playscape, there are numerous hiking trails spread throughout the arboretum. The kids love learning what kinds of trees are in the park. We also collect nature items for the Collector’s Corner at the Science Center of Iowa. There are certain things, in line with conservation laws, that we can examine and take with us. When the kids bring something into the Science Center, they can tell staff all about it and earn points to trade in for cool things like geodes, fossils, and arrowheads.
We seek out these opportunities for family time without distractions. They build our connection as a family and create lots of fun experiences and memories.
By spending time outdoors and talking about how we respect Mother Nature, we are fostering a love for the environment in our kids. They talk about Mother Nature as a real person in our life. Our kids also point out when others aren’t respectful to her.
Through our time in nature, our kids have learned that there are lots of unusual creatures out there, and uniqueness is something to value. We’ve spent days examining katydids and praying mantises. They’re fascinated by cicadas.
Modeling these positive attitudes toward nature has even helped me overcome my fear of bees. Since I don’t want the kids to feel like nature is scary, I’ve learned to self-regulate, even when I see a huge ground wasp buzzing about the yard. It’s been hard, but deep breaths and self-talk help me keep my cool. When that fails, I find a reason to grab something inside!
Spending time outdoors with our kids has helped me to reconnect with nature. While I’ve always loved being outside, during adulthood I started getting wrapped up in my other responsibilities. I would spend hours indoors at work and then come home and go no further than my deck.
I truly believe kids bring out the best in us. They remind us of our values. Mine gave me an excuse to get back to nature and share something I love with them.
How are you connecting with your kids and sharing your values?
Looking for something to do outside with your kids? Check out 5 of our favorite Des Moines Parks!