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As a gardening coach and mom of two young boys, I believe that time outside transforms our lives for the better.

Each day, I make a conscious effort to get outside and be active with my kids, and I also let them take the lead in deciding what we do. When the weather was warm, we biked to school, worked in the garden and took daily nature walks. One Friday, when I asked my son, "What is something special that we could do together this weekend?," at his suggestion, we pitched a tent in the backyard and spent two nights in it. Now that the weather is colder, we bundle up for walks to school and play outside, rake leaves or shovel snow.

When it's too cold, we "bring the outside in." For example, last week we sprouted seeds on the windowsill, and last night, when it was almost bedtime and too cold outside, I asked my 6-year-old (who was tormenting his younger brother), "What can we do together?" He found some balloons in a craft kit, and after spending 30 minutes figuring out how to blow them up, proceeded to spend an hour with his younger brother playing "volleyball." The balloons made it easy to hit and return to the other, and I was amazed at how active their game of volleyball became. The boys had a tremendous amount of exercise and had a blast!

Being outside allows relationships, creativity and activity to unfold, which leads to a healthy lifestyle and which I believe can reverse the negative effects of past unhealthy choices. The first step is consciously choosing to spend time with your kids away from the distractions that exist for each of us inside the house and look right beyond our doorstep. Sit on the stoop, notice the clouds, share what you like about being outside.

Rebecca of Gainesville, Virginia
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