We are currently in the Nyoongar season of Birak which brings hot and dry weather. This warm weather really starts to take hold in the environment and with our bodies. The hot temperature will likely make many of us feel uncomfortable and we may find that we start to speak more negatively about the outdoors.
I would like to take this opportunity to remind you that children listen to adults speak nearby and interpret tone and body language. We are all role models for the children, they admire and respect us and take on board our thoughts and values. I would love to invite you to influence the children’s connection to nature in a positive way this Birak/Summer, helping them find joy in hot weather.
1. Notice how you talk about the heat
Catch yourself when you complain about the hot weather and change your language to acknowledging the gifts of nature instead. For example, rather than saying, “Oh my goodness, it is sooo hot out here!” instead try something like, “Wow! The sun has a lot of energy and warmth today, let’s make sure we stay in the shade and drink lots of water.” Watch the tone of your voice too. Keep it upbeat and solution based.
2. Monitor your own energy levels
You may find that your personal energy slows down outside. Keep yourself well hydrated to help with energy levels. You may like to add electrolytes to your water bottle with a tablet of Hydrolyte (or similar) or by squeezing in half a lemon. Alternatively, you can eat an orange or watermelon for morning tea or drink some coconut water! Utilise low energy to find Sit Spots in nature. Sit or lie on the ground with children watching the leaves of the trees or listening to birds.
3. Watch your facial expressions
With lower energy levels your facial muscles may drop. This can appear to children like you are bored, disengaged, or grumpy. Some Tibetan Buddhists use a technique called a ‘half- smile’ or ‘dolphin smile’ to activate their mouth and facial muscles. You can do this by just concentrating on turning the corner of your mouth up a bit and having a sparkle in your eye. This can help you to be more present, less stressed, and more connected with the children.
At our programs, we tailor our activities to suit different conditions, but do not shy away from being outside in all kinds of weather. In winter we rejoice in the rain and intentionally show our excitement. In summer we are conscious of playing calm games in the shade like Eagle Eye. We also increase the number of times we stop to drink water together. When we purposefully embrace the weather, we notice a change in not just the children, but also our own attitudes. Being outside in extreme weather genuinely shifts from a negative experience, into a joyful one.
I leave you with the reminder that you all have connection and knowledge of nature. If you feel like you do not know enough about nature or do not feel comfortable in nature, try switching your perspective. Say to yourself, your peers and children, “I know a little about nature but I would love to know more!” or “I am challenged by nature sometimes and I am working on feeling safer and braver.”