Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Green Hour Update

Attempts at nature exploration with The Conscious Shopper

A month ago, I reviewed the book The Green Hour and committed to setting aside one hour a day several times a week to explore nature with my children. I feel like we started off the month with good intentions that fizzled out. As with so many things, our biggest hurdle has been time. Most afternoons, I get home from picking the kindergartner up from school around 4:30. I spend about an hour making dinner, and then we eat. Sometimes, we have to pick up my husband from work at 6ish either because it's raining and he doesn't want to get drenched walking home, or more commonly because one of the two of us has to be somewhere by 7:00 for various activities and obligations. And then we start getting the boys ready for bed at 6:45 if it's bath night, 7:00 if it's not. The two youngest are in bed by 7:30, the oldest by 8:00.

In short, the hours between 4:30 and 7:00 are a mad dash to get everything done before bedtime. (Excuses, excuses, excuses...)

At first, I thought the solution was to make dinner during naptime so we could have our green hour in the afternoon when I would normally make dinner. But naptime is usually my reading time, and since my evenings are always packed, I couldn't find any other time to read. I'm feeling book deprived!

My next thought was to turn our usual walks to the school, museum, or library into pseudo-nature walks. Just because we're in the city doesn't mean we can't find nature to enjoy. We'll often stop for a few minutes and watch the ants, or pick wildflowers, or fill our pockets with rocks. Sometimes I quiz the boys to see if they can spot the poison ivy or identify a tree. I've been enjoying this idea, but it's not quite the same as immersing them in nature.

So now I'm thinking maybe I should compromise with a Green Half Hour or even a Green Fifteen Minutes on days when I can't fit in a full hour and then make up for it on the weekends. Raleigh has a great parks and greenway system, and we need to get explorin'. Plus, once school lets out, we'll have a lot more free time on our hands.

I also really like the idea of monthly camping trips from a comment on Going Green Mama's last post. Says Rosa:
Last summer we set aside one weekend per month to go camping somewhere a short drive from home. We actually went more often - hit 6 different state parks and one state forest in five months.
My biggest accomplishment this month was clearing off a shelf in the boys' room and turning it into a nature table:

As you can see, they haven't quite latched on to the concept yet, but I'm sure they'll catch on.

And here's a little more evidence of our green hour in action: I came in from working on the garden the other day to find an old peanut container sitting on the table. It was filled to the brim with water and had scotch tape completely covering the surface. "What's this?" I asked, a little afraid of the answer. And for good reason: "Snails. They need water."


How's your green hour going?


Jenn the Greenmom said...

Love this. And I totally get it--our afternoon/evenings are pretty much exactly like this, i.e. nuts.

Here's an idea--you know how the fitness experts, after telling us "an hour of activity three days a week!" made most (okay, many) of us go, "yeah, RIGHT!" relented and said, "okay, but if you do ten minutes here, fifteen there, five another time, that counts too!"

Little green day bites? Would that work? (That's all we can hope for, honestly...five minutes to and from the bus stop, fifteen around the block, the rare Saturday when we can ACTUALLY go on a nature walk...)

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

@Jenn - I think you're exactly right. A green hour might be unrealistic, and then we end up not having any nature time at all. But we could do little green day bites.

Funnily, my son's piano lesson was canceled today so we went to the playground, and then I locked my keys in the car, so we were stuck there for over two hours until my husband got off work and could beg a ride from a coworker to come bail us out. I think we got our nature time in for the rest of the week!

Robbie said...

I hear you about the chaos between 5:30 and bedtime. I try to get the kids out for some fresh air, even if it's them watering the garden (OK, me, the pavement, etc. ...) or exploring what's growing, or a walk around the block. And some nights, that's tough too. But I think the effort is worth it!

Rosa said...

There are just so many things we want to do, and so few hours with our kids...I hope you get the time for camping. We just sat down and marked our camping weekends on the calendar for this summer, so I'm pretty stoked about it.

The thing for us is, if it's not on the calendar, it gets crowded out by other stuff - even though it's not yet June, we only had one free weekend left in June and one in July.


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