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2015 Jan

A Winter Picnic

In this morning’s paper, I saw a comic showing a mother pleading with her child to go to bed. It was “For Better or For Worse” and the older son didn’t want to go to bed the same time his younger sister did. In the last frame, the grandmother said to the grandfather how glad she was that she didn’t have to deal with little children anymore.

I beg to differ! Now that my kids are practically grown, I miss the days when they were little and needed me for everything. They were so spontaneous then and eager to please. As a parent, I always knew where I stood. But as soon as kids reach their teen years, it’s a whole new ball game.

So what would I do differently if I could rewind the clock? Where do I begin? That’s not to say I didn’t do my best as a parent when my kids were younger. We spent tons of time together, took trips, read, played games, and enjoyed a variety of activities. 

But if I could go back in time, I think I would try to be more present in the moment and grateful for the simple pleasures of life—like good health and delicious food. I’d worry less—since all the worrying in the world doesn’t change anything. It just makes you feel stressed—and stress isn’t good for you or your family. 

I would seek out activities to do with my children that we both enjoy—like walking in the woods. I know I sound like a broken record sometimes when I talk about experiencing nature with your little ones, but honestly there is peace to be found outside. Even this time of year, there’s beauty in the winter stillness. Too cold? Sorry, that’s not an excuse. In Iceland they say there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing!

So bundle up with your little ones and go for a walk on a sunny day in the woods. You’ll be sheltered from the wind, and you might be surprised at how pleasant it is outside. Bring a picnic basket with a thermos of hot cocoa and some fruit and cookies and have a winter picnic. If your child balks at this suggestion, bundle him or her up anyway. I bet once you’re hiking in the woods, your child will forget his reluctance and enjoy the fresh, crisp winter air.

No matter what the season, my sons would often grumble when I suggested a nature outing. But they came along anyway and guess what? Once we were there, they loved getting active and enjoying the outdoors. Sometimes it seems like a struggle to motivate your kids to do something out of the ordinary, but do it anyway. Time is fleeting, and if you don’t enjoy these opportunities now, one day you’ll look back and wonder where all the time went.

It’s the perfect time to start anew. Promise yourself that at least once a month you and your family will do something you’ve never done before: like go to a play or a museum or watch a ballet or listen to the symphony. Look in Tidewater Family’s monthly calendar together with your kids and pick some activities to enjoy this month.

There’s no time like the present.

Love, Peggy

Peggy Sijswerda

Peggy Sijswerda is the editor and publisher of Tidewater Family Plus magazine. She has an MFA in creative nonfiction from Old Dominion University and is the author of Still Life with Sierra, a travel memoir. Peggy also freelances for a variety of regional, national, and international magazines.


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