Go wild outside with your little one

© Lucy Cahill

I remember the beginning of lockdown.  March, April, unseasonably beautiful weather.  Just one hour of outdoor exercise seemed so cruel as the sun poured down on the lush spring growth and the flowers nodded from every hedgerow.

...Roll on through the months now and we’re in lockdown #2, where we can meet a friend for outdoor recreation, and even take our pre-schoolers with us.  And now look at the weather. Instead of that summer sun, it’s the rain that’s pouring, and the wind is blustering and the leaves are swirling and the mud is squelch-squelch-squelching.

Some of us adore this season.  Some of us really, really don’t. But if you can get past the grimacing-at-the-window stage and wrap yourself and your little one up in your waterproofs, you might just find that everything feels, well, a bit better.

There’s an oft-quoted (by me) study by Dr. Miles Richardson of the University of Derby, called ‘Three Good Things in Nature’.  The reseachers asked a group of people to note down three good things in nature every day, for just five days in a row. A number of months later, this group still showed improvements in psychological health compared to a control group, who had been asked to note three factual things each day.  The explanation for their finding is the apparently measurable phenomenon of ‘nature-connectedness’ – those of us who feel more connected to nature are more likely to feel happy, to feel that we belong, and to engage in more physical activity, while we are less likely to suffer with anxiety or stress.

Toddler in woods

© Lucy Cahill

This holds true for every age. For the youngest among us, connections made now with the natural world will likely last a lifetime.  For the older ones amongst us, perhaps your nature-connectedness needs a top-up – and nature is always there, right outside your door, waiting for you to go and fill your cup.

During these strange times of lockdown, let’s reap what benefits we can by getting ourselves and our little ones outside.  Being in the fresh air, under the sky (whether it’s rain-filled or not), surrounded by nature’s season of abundance, will lift your spirits and give you strength.  We’ve heard of ‘gratitude journals’; perhaps try keeping a ‘nature journal’ to note down your three good things in nature each day.

Step out and embrace the natural wonders that Surrey in Autumn has to offer – we’d love to hear how you get on!


Lucy Cahill is a Forest School Trainer with Surrey Wildlife Trust