In the UK, we're now required to limit outdoors time to once a day, alone or with a family group. But what do you do when you can't leave home? In the second of our guest blogs, Valentina, one of our Wild Walk Volunteer Leaders, shows that it's still possible to get a nature fix without stepping outside...
I have been a lone parent to my 6-year-old son Noah since he was 4 months. Pre-child I was definitely not what you would call an outdoor person. I mean, I was out a lot, but at night, partying, socialising and all the rest.
Lone parenting hit me, hard. I was an emotional wreck and living in a small flat in London didn’t help. All I remember from the first couple of years is walking, walking, walking, with no plan really. I just needed to be out and process everything. I carried my new-born everywhere in Hackney on my sling. Sleep-deprived, an emotional zombie and worried about how I would do this lone parenting thing, I managed to get to know Hackney in and out, without realising. I am lucky to be living in this borough, the greenest in London!
This led me to go farther afield. Epping Forest became my safe place and I would purposely go in a different direction each Sunday to then get totally lost for at least 3 hours and somehow find my way back to Chingford station. Sometimes more successfully than other times. It was great fun and it gave me so much confidence.
Fast forward a few years, my son and I are now avid walkers and campers. We are just in our element when we’re outdoors. My son climbs trees. If you met him in the forest you would never guess he is being raised in a city. We like walking, with no route in mind, we just like exploring. We like stepping in puddles, looking at insects, looking at flowers and observing the different shades of green all around (there are so many!).
Last week on Monday, I decided we would semi-isolate as I couldn’t take all the build up around the Covid-19 situation. I felt overwhelmed and I didn’t like what I saw around me when out. I was also worried because I had been speaking to friends and family in Italy and it didn’t sound good.
In retrospect, I am so happy we took the decision before the guidelines came from the government. I feel it helped us to prepare mentally and at our own pace.
It’s been hard, very hard as we are both extremely social humans but we have now taken the habit daily to take wild walks and really appreciate nature, which is the only thing not failing us at the moment (and always).
This is what we are doing to combat the increased solitude and hardship of lone parenting with no other family around, and now with no social contact with friends:
- We look after our plants inside the flat with more care. My son loves to be in charge of watering them and checking if the soil is dry, if dead leaves need to be removed etc.
- We look up at the sky from our window and stare at it for a few minutes. I have been telling Noah that it’s a very relaxing exercise for the eye’s nerves and for your brain. It’s soothing and it works.
- We try and spot trees from our window and observe how they are changing with the coming of spring, you can hear more and more birds on them every day.
- We eat a lot more fruit and veggies and talk about what trees they come from and when they’re in season (so much useful info on the internet and so educational for children).
It’s hard, don’t get me wrong, this whole situation is really having a huge impact on our mental well-being and the fact that we don’t know when it will end makes it even more surreal BUT I am just grateful that...
- It’s spring, so more sunshine and more nature to spot from our window
- This situation is teaching us what really matters, the essentials in life, the core. For us it’s connecting to nature, even when forced indoors.
If I can take anything positive from what is happening around us now is that I am being taught to slow down and appreciate the small things, like watering a plant or looking up at the sky.
I hope you feel better and I hope my tips help.
Valentina and Noah