Getting outside with a purpose

When I first had the idea of a “screen free” summer, I was unsure of how to approach the subject with a 5-year-old.

How would I explain that Sofia the First and The Pioneer Woman (girl likes her cooking shows) wouldn’t be spending much time with us during vacation?

I wouldn’t.

From my experience, which could be entirely different from yours, kids are more receptive to being shown versus being told. If I was going to teach Lexi the importance of getting outside then we’d simply get outside. This meant I had to do something that didn’t come naturally to me: planning. I’ve always been more of a spur-of-the-moment adventurer, spontaneously declaring “let’s do something different today.” With that, however, came indecisiveness and lost time. I’d hop on the computer or phone and get carried off to the world of Google and its endless options. During this time, my daughter would be sitting in front of the TV. So I knew I had to be more organized. I dedicated Sunday nights to Google and let it whisk me away, while I filled in our calendar boxes for the next week.

Before school let out for the summer, I also reached out to different festival coordinators to inquire about volunteer opportunities suitable for Mom and young child. Something else I wanted to incorporate in being screen free, aside from enjoying nature, was getting outside with a purpose.

Last weekend, we had the opportunity to help at the Maine Fare festival in Belfast where festival-goers were able to meet their local farmers and fisherman and enjoy vendors and demos centered around organic consumption and sustainable living.

Being a part of this day reinforced the idea of “help first, play second.” The concept of community and giving back are values that are also hard to explain to kids without living them first hand. Sometimes the thought of volunteering can be met with hesitation because of the unknowns that go along with it, but that’s also part of the fun.

On the drive to Belfast Lexi was full of questions, wondering what we’d be doing at Maine Fare. On the drive home, she was asking when we’d be volunteering again.

Erinne Magee

About Erinne Magee

Erinne is a Maine-based writer and freelance editor specializing in first person essays, poetry and picture books. Her work has appeared in publications like: The Washington Post, Redbook, Yahoo News, The Huffington Post, Good Housekeeping and The Toronto Sun. For more, visit: