Words by: Jo Hoff Nordskar
You can almost taste the word… It immediately calls to mind hot shoreline rocks, unlimited strawberries, constant sunshine, and plenty of time for friends and play. These may be a compilation of the best memories from your childhood, but now you are an adult. Kindergarten and school are closed for a few months and suddenly you have 24/7 responsibility for providing inclusive activities with meaningful content that will keep your children busy. What can you do to fill up the days?
When I was growing up, I spent a lot of time outdoors in the natural environment, and that is a stimulus I also want my children to experience. That’s why I am offering three ideas for content and activities that include parents and children, using nature as the playroom.
- Early morning swim: Get up a bit earlier one day (if the kids haven’t already got you up), pack your swimming things and towels, and visit your local lake (unless you live on the coast). There is nothing to beat the feeling that spreads through your body after an invigorating swim early in the morning, and kids tend to love things that are a bit out of the ordinary and “crazy”. Plus, as adults, we also benefit from stepping a little out of our comfort zones occasionally.
- Camping with children: Camping with children requires a certain amount of equipment, but can also be done at a very basic level. Tents can be hired or borrowed if you plan ahead, and it’s surprising how little you need to create magic for children. We have camped deep in the forest, in the mountains, on islands along the Helgeland coast – and in our own garden! For the kids, the experience (in their minds) is almost the same. So, put up tents or a hammock right outside your house or in a park/small wood close to where you live. You DON’T need to travel far. But remember some essential things if you want to be comfortable: a sleeping bag/duvet is important. The same applies to a good camping mat, but you can just as easily use rugs, blankets or whatever you have at hand to create additional comfort. Pack a teddy bear or doll, some drawing things, a book or a game. Keep it simple, but think comfort. It’s better to carry a slightly heavier bag on a short camping trip with children, rather than taking them on a long trip with lightweight equipment.
- Pick vegetables or berries: It might sound like a strange activity, but it’s incredibly enjoyable and gives them a lot of pleasure while also teaching them. In Norway, there are many community farms where you can register and be allowed to pick vegetables and fruit. This will teach the kids about the entire value chain from farm to table (or the kids’ mouths). Maybe you know someone who has done it, or you can search online. Alternatively, Norway is full of exciting berries growing in the wild that are great to combine with a trip to forests (blueberries, lingonberries, raspberries), mountains (cloudberries, crowberries) or the coast (redcurrants, blackberries, blackcurrants).