When my daughter was a young toddler, I constantly chased after her trying to make sure she was “safe.” I baby-proofed every inch of my house — and grandma’s. I was her shadow when she walked, just in case she stumbled. With my ever-present pack of wipes, I sanitized every eating surface we came into contact with. She wore sun hats and I lathered her with sunscreen. I bought the highest-rated car seat.

While I felt like I had a handle on keeping her safe, I realized I wasn’t prepared for how active she was. Oh man, I thought one exhausting morning, playdough only lasted five minutes! What do I do now? That’s when I decided we needed to have a plan every day. This girl needed to be entertained!

Soon came two-hour playdates, organized sports, and preschool at the wee age of three years old. We got busy, really busy — driving to preschool, gymnastics, soccer, music classes, and a moms’ group. I don’t recall taking my daughter outside to play that much. If I did, it was to the neighborhood playground or a rare trip to the beach. Never did it occur to me to explore the twelve beautiful wooded acres of our backyard with our daughter. In my mind, we were too busy to sacrifice our precious time in nature. It wasn’t until later that I realized I had made a big mistake. When she presented with bouts of anxiety, aggressive tendencies, and sensory issues, I knew we were running away from the one thing that would actually help my daughter: time alone in nature.

— Angela Hanscom, “Balanced and Barefoot,” 2016 (p. 113, 114).

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