How to Get Your Kids to Play Outside

Some weeks my kids practically live outside. But certain days they need a little nudge to go outside to play. Once I actually get them outside, mother nature usually takes care of the entertainment. Here are some ways I have successfully enticed my kids to go outside during our 30 x 30 Nature Challenge.

Non-toxic Baby Care: the Best Free, Online Resources

When I first became concerned about environmental toxins after my first child was born, there was plenty of information about eco-friendlier choices scattered around the Internet, but no concise simple guides to get me started. I ended up purchasing several books (which I now love), but as an eco-novice I found the amount of information in them overwhelming and difficult to absorb or implement. What I really needed was a short and sweet green guide for sleep-deprived new parents. But at the time, I wasn't able to find anything like that online. Not so anymore!

Here are a few excellent online guides for natural baby care that are free, concise, and doable.

Safe & Healthy Pregnancy: the Best Free, Online Resources

Pregnancy is a great time to go green! Here are several excellent online guides for a natural pregnancy that are free, concise, and doable.

Environmental Chemicals: Stay Safe During Pregnancy 

by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2013)
This infographic is the shortest and sweetest of all the recommendations, but it comes from an authoritative source. In 2013, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine issued a joint statement urging ob-gyns "to advocate for government policy changes to identify and reduce exposure to toxic environmental agents," and to counsel their patients on how to avoid environmental toxins.  Their infographic offers women six tips for a safe pregnancy, mostly related to diet. If you want to delve deeper into the reasons for their recommendations you can read the document "Exposure to Toxic Environmental Agents." Be warned though, it's scary stuff (I wouldn't read it if I were pregnant).

13 Benefits of Spending Time Outside

On an after-dinner family walk around our block.

We've completed Week 1 of the 30 x 30 Nature Challenge (30 minutes outside in nature for 30 straight days). I'm posting weekly on my blog and several times throughout the week on Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, and Instagram using the hashtag #30x30challenge about our experiences and would love to read your comments and posts about your experiences completing the challenge as well.

For those who need some extra motivation to get outside, may I remind you that the benefits of being outside in nature are now very well-documented. I scanned a bunch of articles and quickly put together the following list.

Spending time in nature
  • reduces stress
  • improves attention and memory
  • speeds recovery from surgery
  • reduces pain
  • promotes good health
  • boosts immune function
  • improves creativity
  • improves mood and energy levels
  • boosts empathy
  • relieves anxiety and depression
  • improves cognition
  • extends life span
Sources: Spending time in nature makes people feel more alive, study shows; Medical: Spending time outside has many health benefits; The Claim: Exposure to Plants and Parks Can Boost Immunity; Connecting With Nature Boosts Creativity and Health; Take Two Hours of Pine Forest and Call Me in the Morning; The Value in Reconnecting with Nature; Health Benefits to Children from Contact with the Outdoors & Nature

I'll mention one more benefit I reflected upon this week: community! When we spend time outside in our neighborhood, we frequently cross paths with our neighbors. These impromptu interactions lead to learning each other's names, planning play dates, and the borrowing and lending of tools. 

Here is how our first week of the 30 x 30 Nature Challenge went. 

Ten Tips for a Terrific Staycation

Imagine a vacation where:

  • You experience new adventures each day but sleep in your own beds each night.
  • You can eat homemade, healthy foods every day.
  • You don't have to help your children use a restroom in a gas station or at the back of an airplane.
  • You don't have to listen to small children crying/ screaming/ whining/ complaining/ fighting for hours on end in a confined space or while surrounded by unsympathetic strangers.
  • You don't have to pack any clothes, toiletries, or favorite children's toys.
  • You don't waste any of your vacation budget on airline tickets or car fuel.
  • None of your precious vacation days are wasted traveling to and from your destination.

Say hello to the Staycation: the vacation you take right in your own backyard.

Our Accidental Staycation

30 Ways to Enjoy 30 Minutes in Nature with Your Kids

Image credit: David Suzuki Foundation

This May I'm joining the David Suzuki Foundation's 30 x 30 Nature Challenge (30 minutes outside in nature for 30 days) and I hope you will too! I'm going to skip right over the part where I convince you how important it is to spend time in nature each day (see a cool infographic about that here), and dig right into the deets. I'm hoping to post weekly on my blog and several times throughout the week on FacebookGoogle PlusTwitter, and Instagram using the hashtag #30x30challenge about how we are doing and would love to read your comments and posts about your experiences completing the challenge as well.

I plan to do this challenge with my children: 30 minutes of time outside with my kids every day, but I will also accept separate time if necessary. For example, I sometimes go for a walk with my youngest in a stroller for exercise in the morning (while my older two are at school/ preschool), but then if the older two spend 30 minutes in the backyard in the afternoon, we've completed the challenge! But I'd prefer to do it all together if possible.

Goddess Garden Spray Sunscreen: Convenience without Toxic Chemicals {Review}

This post is sponsored by Green Sisterhood. All opinions are my own.

Summer is just around the corner (at least here in Northern California!). It's time for me to sign up my three little ones for swim lessons and to get out the beach and swim gear. This is the time of year when I make sure we are well-stocked with non-toxic, broad spectrum sunscreens so that I'm not stuck with an old expired sorta icky tube of sunscreen the first day of swim lessons or the first time we head for the beach. This summer we will be using Goddess Garden Organics sunscreens. Goddess Garden sunscreens are safe, effective, convenient to use (non-toxic sunscreen spray, anyone?), and non-whitening.

Safe and effective ingredients

Here is a surprising truth: there is no proof that sunscreens prevent most skin cancers. Researchers offer several explanations for this counter-intuitive finding: one is that people who use sunscreens spend more time in the sun than those who don't (ultimately exposing themselves to more UV rays than the non-sunscreen users who stay out of the sun); there is also evidence to suggest that some ingredients commonly used in sunscreens (such as vitamin A/ retinyl palmitate) may actually speed the development of skin cancer; finally, another possible explanation is that many sunscreens protect users only against sunburns from UVB rays without protecting users from UVA rays, which are linked to skin cancer and premature aging.


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