Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Why Outdoors? Why All Day?

Written by Renee

A few years ago our family made the conscious decision (ie: it doesn’t just “happen”) to spend one whole day each week outdoors together as a family. We call it one day a week.

We’re passionate about encouraging people to spend one day a week together in nature. And we’d love for other families to experience the incredible benefits we have realized from this practice.

And so when Heather and Adam started this blog - this idea of Unplugged Sunday - we wanted to be a part of it.

Unplugged Sunday is not just about the outdoors of course. The vision is broader than that and includes connecting spiritually, cooking and hospitality, creating and resting. A feast of possibilities for a day of family togetherness.

I love the idea of Unplugged Sunday. I love the practice of Unplugged Sunday.

Our family chooses to spend our “unplugged day” in the outdoors.

It’s a foundation piece to our weekly schedule. We plan other things around it and will only sacrifice that day we spend together in nature for emergencies or rare events. Even when life is in an upheaval, especially when life is like that, we spend a day in nature as a family.

Why Outdoors?

There’s a lot of things a family could do together for a day unplugged. They could go visit family (hopefully the tv isn’t blaring the whole time), attend church or some other spiritual gathering, do service in their community, spend the day preparing a gourmet meal to share with friends.

We do all of those things on a regular basis, just not on our outdoor day.

We choose the outdoors for our unplugged day because it integrates many of our family values and goals into one activity that we can all do together.

Learning to understand nature is part of our kids’ home education. The great cathedral of the outdoors is a spiritual experience. And spending a whole day in nature - talking, laughing, sometimes crying - connects us to each other in ways we have not experienced elsewhere.

Our family focuses on hiking specifically because it’s one of my husband’s passions and an activity he keenly wants to share with his family. Hiking is active and health promoting.

Perhaps most important of all, hiking is something we can all do together regardless of age or leg length.

How many other activities, in our modern society with age and sex segregated sports teams, can a family of five do together? Not many.

Why All Day?

That’s a good question. Why not just sleep in, have a leisurely breakfast, pack a lunch and go out for the afternoon?

Well, sometimes we do that. But not often.

Because we work, play and learn at home there are many distractions (even worthwhile ones) from just relaxing, unplugged at home together.

Some people are able to unplug at home. They are book readers, brunch eaters, and quite honestly, probably don’t have children who want to do something and not just sit around watching their parents read.

If our family doesn’t make a point to get out of the house we are either working in the kitchen (that’s my nearly full time day job and I like a break from it one day a week), taking care of home and yard, or on the computer in some capacity (my husband’s full time day job).

Unless the power goes out, we aren’t able to pull off truly unplugged days at home. So we avoid the temptation all together and pack up and leave.

Don’t get me wrong. We are able to relax at home and do so often. But most of our relaxing involves computers, the internet, and electronic devices of some sort. To get away from it all we truly need to get away from it all.

So now that I’ve answered Why Outdoors and Why All Day, I have a few questions for you.
  • What is your favorite outdoor activity to do with your family?
  • Is being outdoors together something you’d like to do more?
  • What are some of the obstacles you face in doing that?

We’d like to help. In the coming months my husband Damien and I will be sharing here about how and why we do this with our three school aged children. We look forward to encouraging your family to get outdoors together.

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