“Let’s Go for a Walk” and Other Loving Invitations

Skipper on coneflowerI LOVE YOU isn’t always expressed in those exact words, but the message is just as sweet to my ears. When my 11-year-old daughter says “Let’s go for a walk, Mom,” I pause, smile and promptly put on my sneakers. I savor several things about that phrase: the signal to slow down, the invitation to spend quality time with my kid and her voiced desire to be outdoors.

My husband and I both helped to instill in our two children an appreciation for nature. We encourage outdoor play, garden for wildlife and spend regular time exploring nearby green spaces (including the backyard!) with our family. While the benefits for our kids are well documented, I’ve become increasingly aware of the benefits outdoor time brings to me as well.

Parents and other grown-ups are just as tethered to electronic devices as our youth counterparts, it seems. It’s how much of business—and even schoolwork—gets done these days. But being focused on computers, smartphones and the like can steal opportunities to bond with friends and family—to make lasting memories—when we fail to tune out email streams when the workday is done and to afford ourselves the gift of disconnecting. That’s why I consider walk invitations and enthusiastic wildlife observations (“I see a butterfly!”) such loving expressions. They say simply but pointedly: Share this with me. Enjoy the natural world you helped me to discover.

Take Time Out

I encourage everyone reading this post to take time during National Wildlife Week (and beyond!) to step out the door with a loved one to tune in to nature’s wonders, refuel and open yourselves to unexpected joys. On a recent hike, my 7-year-old son spotted a “tail” in the leaf litter. I stood beside him, hoping to see what he saw. A garter snake! Thrilled by his find, he quietly pointed it out to every passer-by and told me I “should write about it for National Wildlife.” I’m doing the latter now, for it’s a fitting reflection. “This is awesome,” he whispered, as we admired the reptile. It was. And I can still feel the love.

National Wildlife Week BadgeLearn more about how you can celebrate EXTRA-ordinary species in your community and across the country during this year’s National Wildlife Week, March 19-25 >>