Getting Back to Nature in a Concrete Jungle

The haze is back and it has put a serious damper on our outdoor activities…

No, that is not a dirty window or “mist” creating that mountain air appearance in the photo above. On a good day, it should be blue sky and a city skyline. Today and the last couple of days (with each day getting worse), you could almost be forgiven for thinking that it’s winter with all our windows closed so we don’t smell the burnt air.

The person who has probably felt it the worst is Hercules – my nature-loving boy. He loves to roll in the grass, run his hands through the leaves in the bushes, stomp in puddles of water, and race like the wind through the parks and greenery. While Aristotle will grumble that a “park” is boring because there is no playground, Hercules will be happy to explore the pebbles on the ground, the flowers in the bushes, and the trail of ants marching across his path.

It’s times like these that I feel envious of parents like these…

Campfire USA, Walla Walla

Wouldn’t it be nice to have something like this in your backyard?

Go Explore Nature

Planet Fassa

When I was a child, we would spend school holidays with my cousins who had a park opposite their house. At the park was the most perfect tree a child could ever have – just big enough to fit several children with one low branch so that even the smaller children (like me) could climb up on their own.

Backyard Mama

This picture reminds me of my childhood when I would walk home from school during Autumn kicking up the leaves (and possibly annoying the neighbours who had so labouriously swept them up) and playing “football” with acorns.

Times like these I cannot help but feel what our children are missing living in a concrete jungle with hazy air. Then there are the security issues (which we have touched on in a previous post) that prevent them from having the freedom to explore on their own. Where are the days when people could leave their doors unlocked and children could run over to the neighbours that live half a block away without the fear of being kidnapped or run over by a speeding motorist. As a parent, I feel sad for the loss of that. I keep wondering what we can do to recapture some of that experience in the world we live in now so that our children do not grow up oblivious to the beauty that nature has to offer.

To help counter this, I’ve been trying to take Hercules on regular visits to outdoor parks while Aristotle is in school. We do indoor play gyms as well when the weather is bad so Hercules gets the opportunity to burn up some of that boundless energy supply he carries in that little body of his so we both don’t go mad being couped up at home. We also take trips to places like the Bird Park although I have discovered how poorly designed it is for active toddlers that go tearing down the slippery paths that are bordered by steep drops. We also try to take advantage of our holiday visits to other countries to plan outdoor trips. It’s not as much as I would like, but I figure it’s still better than nothing…

If you live in a concrete jungle like we do, what do you to to help your children retain their links to nature?

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of (a website on parenting, education, child development) and (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

2 thoughts on “Getting Back to Nature in a Concrete Jungle

  1. Hi Shen Li, I am happy to have found your blog today with so much good information, I was researching for pre-school for my 2.5 y-o and glad to see your list and findings. For this subject of retaining the link to nature, yes that’s our struggle too! To the point that I even consider giving up everything we have here and returning to my hubby’s hometown so my son can live much closer to the nature greens and browns, but that was a bad idea as we’ll both be jobless. Anyway, what I’m doing now is pretty much the same as you, we go to the park everyday except raining days, I let him romp freely bare footed, he’d pick up leaves and throw them to the bin (it actually became his daily routine), I alternate that with playground, outdoor as well, thanks goodness my neighborhood has a couple well maintained, and when hubby is around they’ll go to the pool where we won’t do the park activity. That’s the least I can do, but hoping to do more.


    1. Thank you! Yes, unfortunately, that’s about as good as it gets for us, too, as far as the nature exposure goes… I’m toying with the idea of getting the boys to plant some seedlings and take care of them. We only have the balcony for that (we live in an apartment), but at least it will teach them a little about plants and taking care of the environment…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: