The Benefits of Outdoor Time for Boys – Charlotte Mason Had it Right!

The Benefits of Outdoor Time

Charlotte Mason said that we should:

“Never be within doors when you can rightly be without.” (Vol. 1 p.42).

She even encouraged mothers to get outside more!

She encouraged us to let children discover and collect specimens of nature. And let them see what happens with them. Nature study is an obvious reason to get our kids outdoors more.

“Do children keep tadpoles, and silkworms, and caterpillars in these days? Very few have given us the results of their own observations. We have many capital descriptions from books, and that is better than nothing, but the very essence of natural history is that it should, so far as possible, be drawn direct from Nature.”

For more CM tidbits like this check out this site , Charlotte Mason Help.

Our family has done lots of collecting and observing caterpillars, tadpoles, and various and sundry creatures, as you will see from the pictures in this post!

When boys are outside they often feel a sense of freedom and adventure. It gives them the opportunity to move around and encourages them to explore. They discover things about the world around them. They interact with nature. They get grounded. It clears out the cobwebs and helps them to think more clearly. They can exercise their muscles and get stronger and keep their body healthy.

There are many ways to get our boys outside, even if we live in the city.

We can go to a park.

They can walk around the neighborhood if they’re old enough.

Or we can take them on walks. And sometimes they can be nature walks.

We can set up a trampoline or swing set for them to play and climb on.

We can do school outside. I used to take all the kids outside and read a story to them.

We can have picnics at a park or even in our own yard. Kids love that, and it’s nice for clean up, too!

They can ride bikes, skateboards, or scooters in a safe place. You may have to find a good place for these activities.

The Benefits of Outdoor Time According to Some Real Live Boys

For my research I consulted some “expert boys”, my four sons!

This is my firstborn son, Shawn! (The taller one.)

Shawn had some thoughts on the matter:

“It’s the best environment for building their imagination. Interacting with nature, the trees, the rocks and everything inspires the imagination and creativity. Outdoors and nature – Creation – is inspirational.” He credits a lot of his ability to think well and deeply to the amount of time he spent outside and how much he played in nature. It clears the mind and gets it unclogged.

He continues: “For boys, it creates a sense of what the real world is. It gives you the sense that life is real. It is a tangible, visceral experience. Things matter, and what’s going on around you matters. It helps you understand the value of life. It helps with the restlessness of boys. And gives them a sense of peace. Boys can feel cagey and gloomy if they’re indoors all the time.

They feel a sense of freedom, like they’re not trapped. Overall, it’s very important developmentally. It instills a sense of confidence being a part of the wide open world instead of cloistered inside all the time. Like you’re a part of it all. You can breathe and move even though you’re outside of a familiar area.”

When Shawn and his friend were about 10 years old they built a treehouse. they looked around for resources and figured out what they could do with the things they found. A lot of creativity was inspired by the time they spent together outside.


This is my second son, Patrick! Here’s his contribution to the discussion about outdoor time, from a boy’s perspective (now a man).

Being outdoors calms ADD symptoms.

Patrick is 23 now. He says being in the outdoors helps the body-brain connection. It helps boys focus when it comes time to sit down with the books.

“It helps them center when they’re alone in the wilderness. They become more in touch with their inner being. It helps them focus clearly. It takes away all distractions; no TV, no media, no phone. It stabilizes you. It anchors you to reality. It shows that you are capable of being fatigued. You learn that you can’t be dependent on the system. You learn survival skills. You become free-thinking and independent.  You understand your limits; you can get hungry, thirsty, cold, every mosquito bite is a lesson, and you can get hurt and keep going. You find out how tough you are. You can test your limits.”

This is Morgan, my third son.

Morgan is 18 now. He says:

“Open spaces are good for a boy’s mental state. There are a lot of physiological health benefits, from soaking up the sunlight, and breathing fresh air that is not artificially controlled or produced. The sensations of soft breezes and the sound of a fountain or running water of any kind tends to incline the mind to organize and sort things that don’t generally get sorted out until you sleep; generally promoting a better sense of awareness and well-being.”

This is my youngest son, Garrett!


These are the thoughts of a real live boy!

Garrett is 15 now. He gave me his thoughts on the importance of boys having outside time. He said that it makes boys feel strengthened when they’re outside. They can breathe fresh air. When they’re outside, they can run free. They can breathe freer. They can get rid of the stuffy feeling of being cooped up inside. In his own words, “When you want to run you can just run. If you want to jump, you can just jump.” The wide open spaces make them feel free and able to use their energy. He said he enjoys walking through the woods. He likes to explore and walk along a path and see the different things that are there each time.

He loves to get on the monkey bars. He likes to swing from one bar to the next. It’s a really invigorating feeling to play tag. His favorite part of swinging is going so high that it gives you a tickly feeling in your stomach. He loves swimming, too. He likes to test his breath capacity and see how long it takes him to swim to the other side. He likes to find objects that have been thrown in the water. It strengthens his core, his lungs, his arms and legs, and his heart.

It gives him a new perspective when he walks outside. He observed that “There’s a part of your brain that doesn’t get worked unless you’re outside. It helps you process things. It makes you feel better emotionally when you can sit quietly in nature and see the beauty. It gives you a peaceful feeling.”

To sum it up, being outside is good for boys in a variety of ways: Mentally, emotionally, physically, psychologically, and educationally. Charlotte Mason said we should let our children spend time outside for 4, 5, or even 6 hours every day. If you can do that, I say do it! If we lived in a place that was accessible to nature, I’m sure we would be outside more often. But we can all make it a goal to get our kids outside as much as possible. As you can see from the thoughts of some “real live boys”, it’s definitely a worthy goal!

Spontaneous Motivation



Shawn and I talked about what spontaneous motivation means.

Being motivated now in the present and moving on it, not waiting for a better, or 
 what would seem a more fortuitous, time to get started. The reality is
now is always the best time to get started. 
It doesn’t mean you get started right smack in the middle of everything or 
at the end of everything. You don’t start thinking that you’re already gonna be
able to do a perfect product or have a perfect day or whatever, but you
decide that today is going to be a better day than yesterday. You decide
that you’re setting a foundation, you’re preparing, and you’re putting stuff
together. You’re structuring stuff together to really go in the direction you’re
wanting to go with your life. Today is a fresh slate if you want it to
be, and you can decide, “Do I really like where my life is going?”


The Seasons of a Woman’s Heart

The Seasons of a Woman’s Heart

A woman’s heart is toward her husband. But it’s also toward God. How can she balance her desire toward God with her desire toward her husband.

It seems that the greater heart’s desire is toward her husband when a woman is young and newly married. She struggles with the tendency to put her love for her husband before her love for God. She almost makes an idol of her husband. Her every thought is about him.

But as time goes on and she experiences the disappointments, unmet expectations, and unexpected changes that happen in life, sometimes the intensity of her feeling for her husband can wane. She realizes with great sorrow that her husband cannot meet all of her needs. She discovers that there are some things about him that she thought she could change because they really bugged her, but – well, he’s still the same. And those things bother her more than ever. She may start to wonder what she ever saw in him!

In many cases, the woman then turns to God, realizing that only He can meet her needs. She finds in Him the comfort, love, hope, strength, and power to answer her prayers that she was expecting her husband to provide. God is the perfect husband and friend! She now knows that God deserves first place in her heart.

What about her husband?

But where does that leave her husband? Is he less loved now? Is he competing with God for his wife’s love?

It may seem like that to him. He has a great desire to be her knight in shining armor. He wants to take care of her and be her hero. He may feel abandoned and deserted by his wife as she no longer acts like she needs him so much. He may wonder what happened and how he can win her back.

Now, we know that it’s impossible for a man to compete with God. So women have to make up their minds to accept and appreciate the love their husbands have for them. Women need to acknowledge the blessing of having a lifelong companion to share life with. Now she can love him with a more mature, realistic, selfless love.

Photo by Christiana Rivers on Unsplash

The Correct Order in Her Heart

The order is now correct. God is first in her heart, and her husband is second. She isn’t expecting her husband to meet needs that only God can meet. She can accept his flaws and idiosyncrasies instead of trying to change him. She is hopefully mature and whole enough that she can express how she feels when he says or does insensitive things so that he knows when he hurts her. In a good marriage with two good-hearted people, conflicts, disagreements, and misunderstandings can be worked out.

The wife can balance her love for her perfect God with her love for her imperfect husband. Knowing that she is imperfect herself, she should be extremely thankful that her husband still wants to go through life with her.

Women can encourage their husbands to grow spiritually by letting them see and experience their wife’s great love for God. Instead of feeling excluded and left out, they may begin to draw closer to God themselves.

The seasons of a woman’s heart can take her from over-dependence on her husband to a mature, whole-hearted reliance on God with a deep, self-sacrificing love for her husband.

Photo by frank mckenna on Unsplash



You Can Mother Well Even if You Weren’t Mothered Well


What kind of relationship did you have with your mother growing up?

If you didn’t get along with her or feel very close to her, don’t feel like you’re doomed to have the same kind of relationship with your kids.

You are not your mother. Try to step outside of the situation and identify the things that impaired your relationship with your mom. There could be many causes of the breakdown, such as lack of affection, poor communication, feelings of condescension, feelings of not being understood, or even feelings of being used as slave labor. Many times  children misinterpret things that happen to them when their understanding is not as well developed.

Go back in your memories. Try to remember specific situations that made you feel put down, ignored, or unloved. See if there’s anything that you may have misinterpreted or taken too seriously because of immaturity.

But it could be that your mother did treat you badly. Maybe she was too busy with other things to pay enough attention to you. Maybe your personalities clashed. Maybe she was under lots of stress that you weren’t even aware of. There could be any number of reasons for the disconnect.

But this does not have to happen to you with your children. I’m thinking especially of mothers and daughters. That seems to be a difficult relationship in many families. There are many reasons for that, too.

If you are finding things more difficult between you and your mother now that you are grown and a mother yourself, there may be some jealousy or a desire to keep you little instead of giving you the freedom to be your own person.

These are some common areas I’ve noticed that make things difficult in relationships between mothers and daughters. I would like to suggest that you take lessons from the hurtful things that happened in your relationship with your mother, and be intentional about doing things differently with your children. Take this opportunity to break that cycle that may have been going on in your family for generations.

Do things differently. Keep your attitude positive with your children. Give them the attention they need, and enjoy your time with them. Do lots of fun things with them. Listen to them, even when their stories are silly or tiresome. See them as blessings instead of drudgery or just another responsibility to take care of. Let them know how much you love them by your actions and attitude, not just by saying it or taking care of their physical needs. That is not enough. They need to know that you really like them.

I spoke at my mom’s funeral last year. It was a year ago. On my daughter’s birthday. Talk about an emotional time. I missed my daughter’s birthday to fly to Ohio for my mom’s funeral.

My mom was a very strong-minded, outspoken, sociable woman. I was not. I did have strong opinions, but I didn’t dare go up against her about anything. Until I got older. When I was younger most of my opinions mirrored hers. But as I got older and experienced new things, she was not very happy that I was developing a mind of my own. So we had some clashes.

But she loved me and would do anything for me. She babysat my children. She really cared about me and always wanted the best for me. There were some things that I felt slighted in when it came to the way she treated my siblings. And her temper put me on edge and made me stay away from her.

But the last several years, I lived far away. When I called her, I knew she missed me and needed me to show love to her. I prayed with her. I warmed back up to her. Then she got dementia. The mom I knew was mostly gone. The only time she seemed like her old self was when I would ask if she wanted me to pray with her.

I’m crying as I write this. Our relationship was not always perfect.

But when it came time to speak at her funeral, I knew that I needed to honor her. She was a wonderful, loving mother. And the thing that stood out most in my mind was that she was a fun mom. She took us to the swimming pool every day in the summer. She planned camping trips for us back in our woods. She planned fun birthday parties for us. She took us shopping for new clothes every school year. She always tried to make sure we were having fun.

She always sang around the house. And when we were in the car she got us to all sing together. I still love singing to this day. She was a fun person and a fun mom.

She told people about Jesus everywhere she went. Everyone who knew my mom knew that she was a Christian. There was never a doubt in anyone’s mind. People always remembered her, even if she didn’t remember them. These were the things I shared at her funeral. In spite of the difficulties we had, the most impactful memories I had were of the good things about our relationship and her life.

There are some things that I have done deliberately with my children, because I felt that I lacked them in my childhood. I have been very careful to listen to my kids. I have tried to make them feel respected and important. I have tried to make them feel noticed. I may have fallen short of some of these ideals, but I have definitely made great efforts to treat my children this way.

So I tried to do things differently than the ways that made me feel separated and disrespected.

I believe that it made me a better mother than I would have been had I not dealt with my own hurts and feelings of rejection. I had to overcome feelings of inferiority that came from preferential treatment, and other deep-seated wounds.

My mother never meant to hurt me in any way. But some things just end up hurting.

But I made up my mind to do the best I could to avoid those things that were hurtful to me.

So when I became a mother, I did it my way.