"Fresh air affects children's constitutions, particularly in early years. It enters every pore of a soft and tender skin, it has a powerful effect on their young bodies. Its effects can never be destroyed."
-Jean-Jacques Rousseau, philosopher and writer
Outdoor time should be prioritized daily, ingrained in the daily schedules so that it comes naturally to spend time outside. Outdoor time can be as simple as laying in the grass and watching the tree branches and leaves blowing in the wind above you, it does not have to be an elaborate super hiking adventure (although those can be fun too!). McGurk (2017) writes, "In Scandinavia the belief that fresh air is good for you applies to people of all ages, not least infants. Daily fresh air is seen as essential for babies, ranking just behind food, sleep and the nurturing love of a parent." I can hear the concern now, 'But what about the cold/rain/snow, my young human will get sick if they are out in that!' According to Roland Sennerstam, a pediatric specialist in Sweden, "it is a misconception that cold temperatures make us sick." Contrary to the idea that being cold and wet get us sick, Sennerstam says, "We get sick because we contract viruses and bacteria when we spend too much time inside...The risk of getting infected is especially high at daycares, where you might have twenty children spending the whole day inside in a virtual cloud of germs." Therefore, it is important to ensure the child is comfortable so that they are not distracted by these elements in nature. When a child isn't distracted by being cold, wet, hot, etc. they could play outside for hours. Friluftsliv (pronounced free-loofts-liv) "roughly translates to "open-air life" and is used to describe a culture and way of life that heavily revolve around exploring and enjoying nature in a non-competitive fashion" (McGurk, 2017, p. xii). Therefore, comfortably exploring and enjoying nature is valuable and investing in quality outdoor clothes is better than having a larger quantity. With the proper attire, inclement weather isn't a problem, it's just another sensory layer of outdoor exploration. So, what should I look for in "proper, quality attire" for outdoor exploration? Well, that depends on a lot of things. Are you exploring nearby your home where you can always go in for added layers or a change of clothes, or will your adventure take you further away where layering might be more important? Are the young explorers younger and less mobile requiring clothing that keeps them warmer because they generate less body heat, or are they more mobile and need clothing that will allow for them to stay dry while hopping in every visible puddle? In general, things to consider when looking at what outdoor clothes to dress your young explorer in are:
1. Does it protect your young human against the elements?
2. Is it easy to wear, comfortable for a range of motion and easy to take on and off?
3. Is it durable? Especially in the feet, knees and hands for various walking and crawling explorers
4. Layering for the temperature: more layers for colder weather, lighter and waterproof layers for rain or puddle play, breathable windbreaker for windy dry days, etc.
5. Do these clothes have sentimental value? If so, they should be saved for activities that do not include exploring outside where mud, grass and dirt could possibly damage them. Save yourself the stress, outdoor play can be messy so dress your young humans in clothes you will not mind getting stained, muddied, ripped etc.
6. Shoes: Should be flexible yet supportive of sole and ankle. Stay on feet and allow for comfortable movement. They need to keep feet safe in a variety of weather conditions. For example, rain boots that keep feet dry while splashing in puddles or insulated boots for winter weather.
"We have such a brief opportunity to pass on to our children our love for this Earth, and to tell our stories. These are the moments when the world is made whole."
-Richard Louv, non-fiction author and journalist
McGurk, L. A. (2017). There’s no such thing as bad weather: A
Scandinavian mom's secrets for raising healthy, resilient, and
confident kids (from Friluftsliv to Hygge). New York,
1. Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv
2. There's No Such Thing as Bad Weather: A Scandinavian Mom's Secrets for Raising Healthy, Resilient, and Confident Kids (from Friluftsliv to Hygge) by Linda Åkeson McGurk