Friday, 30 June 2017

Mudpies and Minibeasts: What We Did For #30DaysWild

If you follow me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter (if you don't, it'd be lovely if you would!) you'll know that this month we've been completing the Wildlife Trusts' '30 Days Wild' challenge - making time each day for a Random Act of Wildness. This could be an outdoor activity, something inspired by nature like a craft activity or an environmentally friendly act.

I decided to take the challenge because I felt like Eleanor and I needed to re-engage with nature a bit. Eleanor was such a nature girl as a toddler, loving playing in the garden and even helping out, but when she started preschool all that seemed to change and she was more reluctant to get outdoors. I really believe in the importance of getting out in the fresh air and appreciating nature, and I thought this challenge would be a great way to kickstart that.

Day 1: Cloudspotting - seal or teddy bear?
At first I found it hard to think of ideas. The month started in the middle of half term so should have been a good time to do some more inventive activities but actually we were flagging by that point in the week and it was a bit too warm to go trekking about, especially with Ezra in tow. So we started out simple.

Day 3: Releasing what turned out to be a larder beetle. Glad it's not in the house any more!
In the end, I found that not overthinking it and letting Wild Things just 'happen' worked quite well. Rather than planning wild activities we just opened our eyes to the nature around us and took time to appreciate it. Eleanor rediscovered her love of minibeasts and I learned loads - I can now identify each stage of the ladybird life cycle which I couldn't before!

Day 5: "Look Mummy, it's like confetti!"

Day 7: Minibeast hunting
Day 12: Eleanor likes butter!
Day 21: A blurry red kite circling above our house
Day 17: Walking barefoot in the grass (yes I have weird feet)

We spend more time in the garden than usual too, finding new ways to enjoy nature. Eleanor developed a penchant for making mudpies - she made them on three different occasions in the month!

Day 4: Ezra loving the mud!
Day 16: Making a mud pie
Day 19: First fruit picking of the year
Day 22: Garden yoga!
We did do some more organised activities like rose perfume making and leaf pressing, but in retrospect I'm glad we didn't do more actually, crafts can be quite stressful for us so I much preferred our 'go with the flow' approach!

Day 8: Leaves and flowers ready for pressing
Day 11: Mashing rose petals to make perfume
Day 29: Making dubious nature 'art' with the pressed leaves and flowers
We only had one nature outing, which was a shame. I'd have liked to do at least one more but our weekends filled up fast and the weather kept swinging from blazing hot to pouring with rain! We actually chose a blazing hot day for seeking shade in our local forest which cooled us down a bit.

Day 18: A Father's Day walk/bike ride in the forest
We didn't always manage to put a lot of effort into our Random Acts Of Wildness. On busy days, or when I got ill and it was raining, we 'cheated' a little with nature webcams, bug drawing and even a game of Beetle. I felt weirdly guilty about this but we were still thinking about nature, however tenuously!

The thing I'll take away most from the month is that just slowing down a bit lets us notice and enjoy nature so much more. Yes, checking out that ladybird pupa may add 30 seconds to the school run but it's a small price to pay! And playing with nature doesn't have to be a well-planned mission, it doesn't even have to involve leaving the garden - I just need to be creative (or let the kids be creative) while we're there!

I'm not sure I'll keep up the daily Random Acts Of Wildness long-term, but I'm definitely hoping to keep finding regular moments to enjoy nature with the kids.

Day 30: This is NOT a mud pie apparently - it's a mud cake!!

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