Welcome to Rain or Shine Mamma, a blog where I will share my ventures in trying to raise children outside, in a culture where life is mostly lead indoors.
I didn’t create this blog as a vanity project or to cast myself as some sort of super mom. For that I have way too many shortcomings and I’m not afraid to admit that parenting is by far the hardest endeavor I’ve ever attempted.
But I do remember what it was like to be a kid in Sweden, where I roamed the woods behind our house freely every day, building tree houses, picking blueberries, carving trees and lifting rocks just to find out what lay underneath. In Scandinavia, where the government recommends that babies nap outside (and most of them do), and children at “Rain or Shine” preschools spend most of the school day outside, even in the dead of winter, people make a point of getting outside every day, regardless of weather.
Many older Americans that I talk to remember similar experiences from their childhood. But something has changed in American culture. In her book Free-Range Kids: How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children, Lenore Skenazy notes that 70 percent of recently surveyed moms played outside when they were little, but only 31 percent of their own children do.
I believe that although society has made great strides in a lot of ways the past few decades, we have lost something as well. The disproportionate focus on standardized tests, abduction fears, electronics, fear of lawsuits, “educational” toys and organized activities have all contributed to the decline in free play outside today. In the process, too many children have come to suffer from what the journalist and author Richard Louv so aptly branded “nature-deficit disorder.”
I’m hoping that this blog in a small way will encourage people to help restore the child-nature connection that has been lost, but I believe is essential for the future of our planet. Because only if you have a chance to get to know nature you will care to protect it. If I can inspire somebody to take a child outside and discover the natural world for an hour or two every day, then I’ll be happy.