Today, April 22, 2020, is the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day- a celebration of the environmental movement, and a time to reflect on the state of the planet. Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, is a global pandemic. Families are sheltered in place at home, schools are closed, and here in the United States there is a raging debate about when and how it will be safe to reopen. Walking outside for exercise is still allowed and generally considered safe if social distancing and other precautions are taken. With these circumstances as a backdrop, I’m always looking for safe, creative ways to keep my 4-year old-son MJ engaged with the world.
From time to time, we take nature walks. They are carefully timed so that we don’t come into contact with many people, just an occasional neighbor or hiker. We are fortune to be in an area where people take the virus seriously, so other than a friendly nod, everyone stays at a distance and keeps to themselves. I’ll say we’re going on an adventure or give a little assignment. I’ll ask MJ to look for a leaf, a pinecone, or to try to spot a mother bird looking for food or building a nest.
· A nature walk is a great way to teach your child about the environment, and if you like photography, it’s also fun to take a few photos. Be mindful and find a balance so that the photos aren’t the primary focus. Take time to play and talk with your toddler. This is sure to be an historic time, and many years from now your child will have the photos as a momento.
· When you’re going on a nature walk with a toddler, be sure to go a short, manageable distance.
· Make sure your toddler is well rested, and be sure to take a bathroom break before leaving.
· Encourage your toddler to look around, explore, and ask questions.
· Large, lightweight bag: Use the bag to carry all of your supplies and your child’s supplies if necessary. You can also use the bag to collect leaves, flowers, rocks, etc.
· Masks: These are helpful to prevent the spread of the virus.
· Disinfecting wipes: Many public seating areas will be restricted during the pandemic. However, if you need to sit down or be in contact with any surfaces, it’s helpful to have these.
· Baggies: Use these to temporarily store any used disinfecting wipes if there isn’t a nearby thrash can.
· Hand sanitizer
· Insect repellent
· Weather appropriate clothing
· Lightweight water-resistant jacket with a hood
· Sunhat and/or sunglasses
· Comfortable sneakers or rain boots
· Lunch bag
· Thermos with water
· Healthy snack