Episode 040 Linda McGurk: Rain or Shine – the Importance of Outdoor Play

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Linda Åkeson McGurk is a Swedish-American journalist and author of the parenting memoir There’s No Such Thing As Bad Weather: A Scandinavian Mom’s Secrets for Raising Healthy, Resilient, and Confident Kids (from Friluftsliv to Hygge). She believes that the best childhood memories are created outside, while jumping in puddles, digging in dirt, catching bugs and climbing trees. McGurk blogs about connecting between children and nature at Rain or Shine Mamma, and hopes to inspire other parents and caregivers to get outside with their children every day, regardless of the weather.

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From this Episode

American culture has less emphasis on outdoor play and free play. Americans are over-scheduled and place a greater emphasis on academics. 

Sweden makes outdoor play mandated by law. Childhood and preschool is seen as the time for free play. Swedish children have fewer problems with childhood obesity and mental/cognitive disorders.

Playing outdoors increases physical and mental health.

Free play allows children to get creating, and problem solve, and conflict resolution.

Being bored allows space for kids to develop their creativity. This means that we need to intentionally allow them to have unstructured time in their day, without access to electronics or personal devices.

There is a push for things to always be educational which makes parents feel insecure about unstructured time, but actually, there are many, many benefits of unstructured time.

Electronics. The antidote to electronics and virtual reality is establishing a sense of identity outside of their virtual identity. Giving our kids a foundation of being outdoors and being connected with nature allows them the space to connect with their identity, and gives them space to appreciate their own capacity to create and have free time. This prepares kids to have a sense of being grounded in their identity, and prepares them to not center their lives so much around their electronic devices.

Friluftsliv is this idea of spending time together as a family outdoors. It is most often used during the summer time. Hygge is the feeling of warm coziness, often around some form of glowing light or fire. These are part of the Swedish culture that has been perpetuated in folk lore and generations of practice and stories.

We can reproduce these practices by making outdoor time a part of our family culture, preparing for larger excursions out of doors, and creating family stories.

The closest thing I could think of that could be similar to higgle is nostalgia, but I don’t think that quite captures it either. Nostalgia can be almost any kind of experience that creates a longing for a time in the past, but hygge is a practice of creating those feelings now.

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Book: There’s No Such Thing As Bad Weather: A Scandinavian Mom’s Secrets for Raising Healthy, Resilient, and Confident Kids (from Friluftsliv to Hygge)

 

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