OutGrown Blog

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 Celebrating and Supporting New Mothers All Year Long
This blog was written in partnership with our friends at Turtle Fur. Every May in the U.S. we celebrate Mother’s Day—at OutGrown we aim to celebrate and support those mamas all year long! Our Turn the Blues Green program focuses on combating the perinatal depression and baby blues that new parents often face. We provide the resources new parents need to feel safe, comfortable and able to get outside with their babies and find a supportive community. The benefits of spending time outdoors for new mamas and babies The outdoors provides elements we need to regulate hormones, ease stress and improve our sleep/wake cycles. Spending time in nature helps to: Increase serotonin Reduce cortisol Improve cognition Ease depression Boost immune function Improve sleep When new moms reap the benefits of spending time outdoors, so do their babies—and by going out together begin to bridge the ever-growing baby-nature gap recent generations have experienced. How to support yourself or other new mamas to combat the baby blues The “baby blues”—which can affect up to 85% of new parents—is difficult to go through and can be hard to distinguish from perinatal depression (formerly known as post-partum depression), which is a condition that often requires medical treatment and intervention. A trusted healthcare provider should always be in the loop when you or a loved one is experiencing the symptoms of depression after the birth of a child. There are also resources like the free, confidential National Maternal Mental Health hotline: 1-833-TLC-MAMA (1-833-852-6262). What else can you do to help yourself when experiencing depression after birth? Find simple ways to spend time outdoors every day, like taking extra time when checking the mailbox, stopping to feel the sun on your face as you walk into the store, or choosing to meet friends/family/colleagues at a park instead of inside. Look up other supportive communities (like Hike it Baby) in your area and commit to joining at least once per week. Research and ask other parents about their experiences and what gear or resources helped them the most in their post-birth journey. Reward and treat yourself when you accomplish goals. Get inspired. Be inspiring. Sometimes it helps to simply know that you aren’t alone in your experience with depression and the baby blues. By sharing our stories, we can help decrease the stigma associated with mental health and help others get through difficult times. Stories like Dawn’s and Angela’s can help others know there are ways to overcome difficulties after giving birth. Looking for new gear to get outside with your little ones this summer? Check out Turtle Fur’s new summer collection for adults and kids! Photo credit: Laura Castro _ Burg Life Photography Here's a little more about OutGrown: We're a national, 501c3 nonprofit with over a decade of experience helping families get outside with their babies and young children. We believe it is critical to include and center families from birth because it is a crucial developmental time for both the infant and the parent, where we can create a life-long, multi-generational impact. We know that we protect what we love and we're helping families build a loving connection with the outdoors so they can value and protect it for generations to come. As a community-driven organization, we have been working with indigenous, Latine, BIPOC, immigrant & refugee, and rural families to co-design multilingual and culturally relevant solutions in our programming. Since its grassroots inception in 2013, OutGrown is a growing community of 280,000 families and over 300 volunteers. More information on all of our programs can be found at WeAreOutGrown.org  EDITORS NOTE: We hope you enjoyed reading this article from OutGrown. We’re working hard to provide our community with content and resources that inform, inspire, and entertain you. But content is not free. It’s built on the hard work and dedication of writers, editors, and volunteers. We make an investment in developing premium content to make it easier for families with young children to connect with nature and each other. We do not ask this lightly, but if you can, please make a contribution and help us extend our reach.  
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10 Benefits of Spending Time Outside
This blog was written in partnership with our friends at Turtle Fur. Every season has its challenges when it comes to finding the motivation to get outdoors. It could be too hot or too cold; too wet or too dry; too dark, windy, smoggy or muddy. We feel stuck indoors and our physical, mental and emotional well-being can take a hit because of it. “Spending time in nature is linked to both cognitive benefits and improvements in mood, mental health and emotional well-being.” American Psychological Association. That’s why it’s so important to try to spend at least 10 meaningful minutes outside each day. The health benefits of spending time outside Getting a breath of fresh air can do more than improve our lungs—there are many proven benefits for the whole family to spending time outside. Benefit: Increased serotonin Exposing the body to sunshine naturally increases serotonin levels—those "happy" boosters we produce that impact things like our memory, stress, digestion and sleep.   Benefit: Increased Vitamin D Sun exposure is also a great way to naturally absorb vitamin D. We need vitamin D for healthy bone growth but also to help control cancer cell development, infections and inflammation in our bodies.   Benefit: Reduced cortisol levels
 Cortisol is the hormone that helps give us the energy we produce to wake up in the morning and also helps us fall asleep and rest as levels lower in our body. When we have high levels of cortisol we can suffer from things like anxiety, weight gain and heart disease.   Benefit: Burned calories
 Exercise outdoors has the added benefits of natural inclines, wind resistance and varying terrain—all of which add to more calories being burnt from something as simple as a stroll around the block.   Benefit: Improved memory, focus and attention Studies show that nature directly contributes to enhanced brain development in children who spend quality time outdoors. Nature itself helps to decrease the heart rate and blood pressure, regulate body temperature and helps with cognitive skills, memory and attention.   Benefit: Decreased risk of heart disease The combination of increased vitamin D, reduced cortisol and easing physical tension in our bodies from time spent outdoors contributes to a decreased risk of developing heart disease.   Benefit: Improved sleep Falling asleep can be difficult when your body isn't in the right rhythm or is too wound up to get restful sleep. Spending time outdoors helps our brains sync with a sleep/wake cycle and fall into a more healthy pattern of day/night energy.   Benefit: Eased depression symptoms
 Spending more time outdoors increases the likelihood of feeling connected to nature—and can therefore lead to feeling less isolated and depressed.   Benefit: Boosted immune function
 It's not just a breath of fresh air that helps us feel better as we escape from indoor germs and bacteria—sunlight may activate T cells in our immune system to fight infections and some plants release immune-boosting phytoncides into the air.   Benefit: Increased happiness and peacefulness When we soak up natural sunlight, breathe fresh air and appreciate the beauty of nature on a consistent basis, we increase our ability to feel true happiness and peace. We feel more connected, less confined and at ease from all the benefits of spending meaningful time outdoors regularly. Make it a habit to get outdoors every day Try to make it a habit to spend time in nature every day by starting small and finding others to motivate you and your family. Take a little extra time as you do your daily activities outside—like when you are walking into work, school or running errands. Find accountability buddies or communities with like-minded goals and inspire others while you achieve yours! Soon, it will become "natural" to spend more time in nature and you will reap the benefits of improved mental, physical and emotional well-being. Want to view more studies and learn more? We think this article is a great resource. Looking for a fun way to support our Hike it Baby program? Check out the Totally Tubular Comfort Shell from our partner, Turtle Fur! ABOUT OUTGROWN OutGrown is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works to create a world where everyone can enjoy the physical and mental benefits of spending time outside. We are focused on creating opportunities and removing barriers to access so families with babies and young children can take their first steps outside. We believe all families have the right to connect with nature, benefit from spending time outdoors and be inspired to a lifelong love of nature. Since its grassroots inception in 2013, OutGrown is a growing community of 280,000 families and over 300 volunteer Branch Ambassadors. More information on all of our programs can be found at WeAreOutGrown.org    EDITORS NOTE: We hope you enjoyed reading this article from OutGrown. We’re working hard to provide our community with content and resources that inform, inspire, and entertain you. But content is not free. It’s built on the hard work and dedication of writers, editors, and volunteers. We make an investment in developing premium content to make it easier for families with young children to connect with nature and each other. We do not ask this lightly, but if you can, please make a contribution and help us extend our reach.
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Exploring Nature with Your Senses: Touch
While wandering through nature, we take in our surroundings using our senses. We smell flowers, touch tree bark, listen to bird calls, see details (like an ant trail on a tree), and even taste some of the natural objects we come across (think berries or edible flowers). And, while investigating nature in this way comes naturally to most children, sometimes we forget to allow children the time and space they need to do it. We are sharing five different ways to explore each of the five senses with children. So get outside as a family, slow down, and explore nature with your senses together! Photo Credit: Michelle Pearl Gee Exploring Nature by Touch Humans inevitably explore the world through touch. Pretty much every single moment of the day is filled with some variation of the touch sense. Though we take almost all of our touch sensations for granted and do not think much about them, one minute outside can feel like this: You touch the doorknob to let yourself outside and immediately feel the warm air and a slight breeze on your skin. You take a step outside and your bare feet feel the warm cement ground. You walk toward your front yard and brush your arm up against a bush. You reach out to touch some flowers right before your feet touch the cooler grass. You take a moment to relish the feeling of the grass before you sit down and feel the soft ground under your body, and maybe a slight itchy feeling on your legs. The sensory experience of touch literally happens all the time, so much so we tend to block out much of what we are feeling. But, if we slow down outside, practice a little mindfulness, and think about each feeling as it touches our body, it can shift any outdoor experiences greatly. Five ways to slow down and experience the sense of touch in nature: Create a touch box. Children love guessing games and creating this simple activity will not only provide a delightful family gaming experience but will also create an opportunity to really explore nature through touch. All you do is gather some simple nature items and put them inside a box. Don’t let your children see what is in the box and have them guess what nature item it is based on touch alone. You can put one item in at a time (good for younger children) or all at once to make it more challenging.   Walk barefoot in nature. The human foot is incredibly sensitive and experiencing a variety of ground cover feels different on our feet and provides different sensory input. When you intentionally think about each sensation your feet are feeling, the whole experience of walking barefoot shifts just a bit.   Find different textures in nature. Create a simple scavenger hunt and set your kids loose to find a variety of textures outside. You can also just have the ideas in your head and have the kids search for one at a time while you meander your favorite trail. Some examples of easy-to-find nature textures are rough, smooth, cold, warm, wet, dry, hard, soft, etc.   Hug a tree. Literally. Not only will it feel really nice to do it, but you will also be able to feel different sensations. Are you able to wrap your hands all the way around? Is the bark rough or smooth?   Count the skin sensations. Sit down for 1 to 5 minutes depending on the ages of your children and their ability to focus and count how many sensations you can feel on your skin. The wind on your skin, the warmth of the sun, the feeling of the ground under your body, the fly that landed on your leg, and so much more. It is hard to focus on only the feeling of touch, but it is amazing how many different things our skin can feel in just one minute. Want to learn more about exploring nature with your senses? Check out our other posts on using your senses of hearing, taste, smell, and sight!   ABOUT OUTGROWN OutGrown is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works to create a world where everyone can enjoy the physical and mental benefits of spending time outside. We are focused on creating opportunities and removing barriers to access so families with babies and young children can take their first steps outside. We believe all families have the right to connect with nature, benefit from spending time outdoors and be inspired to a lifelong love of nature. Since its grassroots inception in 2013, OutGrown is a growing community of 280,000 families and over 300 volunteer Branch Ambassadors. More information on all of our programs can be found at WeAreOutGrown.org    EDITORS NOTE: We hope you enjoyed reading this article from OutGrown. We’re working hard to provide our community with content and resources that inform, inspire, and entertain you. But content is not free. It’s built on the hard work and dedication of writers, editors, and volunteers. We make an investment in developing premium content to make it easier for families with young children to connect with nature and each other. We do not ask this lightly, but if you can, please make a contribution and help us extend our reach.
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Exploring Nature with Your Senses: Hearing
While wandering through nature, we take in our surroundings using our senses. We smell flowers, touch tree bark, listen to bird calls, see details (like an ant trail on a tree), and even taste some of the natural objects we come across (think berries or edible flowers). And, while investigating nature in this way comes naturally to most children, sometimes we forget to allow children the time and space they need to do it. We are sharing five different ways to explore each of the five senses with your children! So get outside as a family, slow down, and explore nature with your senses together! Exploring Nature Through Hearing Listening to nature can quite literally ease the stresses of daily life. And there are so many sounds in nature; the chirping of birds, the rustling of wind on a blustery day, the scream of cicadas, the rushing of water, and so many more. Any walk outside (yes, even in the city if you stop to listen) will provide you with some distinct nature sounds. So take your children outside and explore nature through hearing together. Photo Credit: Ashley Schneider Five ways to slow down and experience sounds in nature together: Find five sounds. Find a comfy spot, or at least a spot free of sharp rocks and pokey plants, and lie down. Close your eyes and put a fist in the air. Now listen carefully to the nature around you and put a finger up each time you hear a new nature sound. Once all five figures are raised, sit up, wait for everyone else to finish, and then share what you heard.   Listen to bird calls. As you sit for a picnic or hike a favorite trail, listen to the birds around you. If you want, spend time trying to match the bird calls to the bird, or try to count the number of different birds you hear. There is no wrong way to listen to the sounds of birds, even if it is just listening to them and nothing more.   Hear your footsteps. As you walk through nature, listen to the sounds of your footsteps. Do you hear the crackle of dried fall leaves, the snapping of twigs, the splashing of water, or the crunch of snow? There is a different sound for every season or ground cover—and the sounds even change depending on your footwear.   Listen like an animal. Find a quiet place in nature, somewhere you won’t be disturbed. This activity is better for older children but could be fun for younger ones too. Basically, you listen to the sounds of nature but do so as if you were an animal. Pick an animal, either a predator animal (fox, wolf, bear, etc.) or a prey animal (rabbit, squirrel, deer, etc.), and listen to nature from their perspective. Do you hear humans talking, a squirrel chattering in a tree, a coyote howling, or a dog barking? What does that mean for your animal? Are you listening to keep safe or using your ears to help you hunt for your next meal?   What’s that sound? For this activity gather some easily found nature items, like sticks, dried leaves, rocks, sand, water, acorns, pinecones, etc., and place them in a box or somewhere your children cannot see them. Have your children close their eyes (or use a blindfold) and then use the items to make noise and have your children guess what nature item you are using. For example, hit two rocks together, crinkle fall leaves, shake a few acorns in your hands, or rub two pinecones together. Want to learn more about exploring nature with your senses? Check out our other posts on using your sense of smell, taste, touch, and sight!      ABOUT OUTGROWN OutGrown is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works to create a world where everyone can enjoy the physical and mental benefits of spending time outside. We are focused on creating opportunities and removing barriers to access so families with babies and young children can take their first steps outside. We believe all families have the right to connect with nature, benefit from spending time outdoors and be inspired to a lifelong love of nature. Since its grassroots inception in 2013, OutGrown is a growing community of 280,000 families and over 300 volunteer Branch Ambassadors. More information on all of our programs can be found at WeAreOutGrown.org    EDITORS NOTE: We hope you enjoyed reading this article from OutGrown. We’re working hard to provide our community with content and resources that inform, inspire, and entertain you. But content is not free. It’s built on the hard work and dedication of writers, editors, and volunteers. We make an investment in developing premium content to make it easier for families with young children to connect with nature and each other. We do not ask this lightly, but if you can, please make a contribution and help us extend our reach.
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Exploring Nature with Your Senses: Smell
While wandering through nature, we take in our surroundings using our senses. We smell flowers, touch tree bark, listen to bird calls, see details (like an ant trail on a tree), and even taste some of the natural objects we come across (think berries or edible flowers). And, while investigating nature in this way comes naturally to most children, sometimes we forget to allow children the time and space they need to do it. We are sharing five different ways to explore each of the five senses with children. So get outside as a family, slow down, and explore nature with your senses together! Photo credit: Katie Fox Exploring Nature by Smell Our sense of smell is an incredibly important part of our body and plays a role in how we perceive the world around us. Not only is the sense of smell linked to memories and emotions, but our noses can smell about 10,000 different smells in the area the size of a postage stamp. In other words, you and your children take in a lot of different smells every single second of every single day. But how often do you sit and really consider what you are smelling, especially while you are exploring the great outdoors with your children? Oh did we mention that the smells of nature are linked to lower physiological stress? It totally is! Here are five ways you can slow down and use your noses in nature together: Smell a tree. Walk up to any tree and see if you can detect a smell. If you live near ponderosa pine trees, make sure to give their bark a sniff. They smell like vanilla or butterscotch and it is truly delightful. All trees have some sort of smell, it just takes some time to walk up and smell them.   Complete a nature-smelling scavenger hunt. You can use literally any nature scavenger hunt, but instead of seeing them in nature, take a moment to smell them. You can take this even further and try to smell every item on your list or by taking a moment to stop and describe the way each item smells. Maybe even rank them from best to worst smelling.   Put your nose to the ground. No, you won’t really be sniffing out clues but instead investigating how different ground cover smells. How does grass smell compared to dirt? What about a ground covered in wet, Autumn leaves? Snow, sand, moss, a rocky riverbank, a muddy puddle, and so many more walkable surfaces all have distinct smells and should be explored to your heart’s content. Or, you know, until your children are thoroughly filthy. We all know the muddy puddles and wet leaves will be the favorite exploratory option on this smell-hunt.   Stop and smell the roses and literally any other flower you see. All flowers smell different and spending time sniffing them is an easy way to pass the time in the Spring and Summer months. There are even a few Fall and Winter wildflowers, though they are harder to find. If wildflowers are not easily found, try visiting a nursery or flower shop and smelling the flowers there.   Play a guessing game by scent. This is an easy way to use your nose to explore nature and it can even be done in your own backyard! All you do is help your children gather a few nature items, like pinecones, grass, leaves, sticks, rocks, dirt, flowers, fragrant herbs, etc., and then guess which item is which based on the way it smells. You and your children can simply close your eyes while you sniff each item or you can use a blindfold. This is an easy game to set up, but surprisingly it is not as easy to guess each item correctly. Want to learn more about exploring nature with your senses? Check out our other posts on using your senses of hearing, taste, touch, and sight! ABOUT OUTGROWN OutGrown is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works to create a world where everyone can enjoy the physical and mental benefits of spending time outside. We are focused on creating opportunities and removing barriers to access so families with babies and young children can take their first steps outside. We believe all families have the right to connect with nature, benefit from spending time outdoors and be inspired to a lifelong love of nature. Since its grassroots inception in 2013, OutGrown is a growing community of 280,000 families and over 300 volunteer Branch Ambassadors. More information on all of our programs can be found at WeAreOutGrown.org    EDITORS NOTE: We hope you enjoyed reading this article from OutGrown. We’re working hard to provide our community with content and resources that inform, inspire, and entertain you. But content is not free. It’s built on the hard work and dedication of writers, editors, and volunteers. We make an investment in developing premium content to make it easier for families with young children to connect with nature and each other. We do not ask this lightly, but if you can, please make a contribution and help us extend our reach.