I often wonder how much running an outdoor clothing business has changed me as a person and particularly as a mum as contributed to me raising active outdoor girls.
When we began Rain-shine my eldest was almost 3 and her sister just 6 weeks old. Now 6 years old on both my girls are a far cry from the “pink dresses and pretty shoes” kind of girls I imagined I might have. Both however are strong confident young ladies who know their mind.
Given the choice the youngest in particular would rather be jumping up and down in muddy muddles than wearing a pristine party dress. For her recent birthday she didnt want the usual princess and pirate party but begged for us to book “animal man”. Although the party was over months ago she STILL talks about it asking for another just like it – it was the ideal party for her. As the majority of her little girl friends (and many of the boys too might I add) backed away from the emerging animals, her hand was straight up when they wanted a volunteer to hold the tarantula or touch the snake. Her big sister wasnt far behind. Instead of running from any spider (no matter how big) that appears in the house, both run towards it fighting over who is going to “help” it back outside! Indeed, only yesterday the smallest one came carefully walking in to the house from the garden carrying the biggest slug I have ever seen saying she needed to move it away from the swings in case it got hurt. This caring nature for animals seems inbuilt in them both – apart from with wasps but I hold my hand up…..that is definitely mums fault!
As my eldest prepares for her 9th birthday, her party of choice is a climbing wall party. This caused all manner of discussions, not least we struggled to identify enough girl who would actually want to come !She seems completely unperturbed by this and has even chosen a friend who has had little/no experience of anything of this kind saying that this may her only opportunity to try something like this. Her hero is Bear Grylls and her ideal present would be to be on one of his survival programmes, not at all my idea of fun.
As a young girl I was very different, just ask Megan from Rain-shine :) These kinds of things did not come naturally to me and I wasnt as strong minded as my two to persevere, although in my defence being a “leftie” in a world of right handed people/teachings I was at a slight disadvantage from the word go. I would never have classed myself as or be seen by others as an active outdoor girl.
From my ramblings you would be forgiven for assuming that I am somehow disappointed that I have these “tomboys” but far from it. In fact it is quite the opposite – I relish the fact that my girls love the outdoors, getting mucky and not being afraid to try new things and be their own people. Rather than trying to fit in to what I think or what others think they should be doing or liking at this age they both make me proud daily with their strong will and determination. I believe a lot of this is down to an active outdoor lifestyle and although neither can be as easily entertained on a forest walk with a pretend bear hunt, they have found other ways to entertain themselves from seeking out creepy crawlies, climbing trees, finding great sticks and participating in some geocaching.
There are many benefits to living an active lifetstyle and incorporating this in to your family life from an early age – this can have a positive impact on both your physical and mental wellbeing. I do believe the very nature of the business I am in has pushed me gently in this direction, offering me a new insight in to the importance of certain things in life. Testing our waterproof range on my own children meant getting out with them in all weathers and I see that this has shaped who they are as people. Raising active outdoor girls has given me a new perspective on what is important. My only hope is that when the teenage years or the “long dark tunnel” years appear (as mum would put it) that this connection with nature and being active is still present……not just so that they reap the benefits for years to come but more so for my own sanity…..so I can send them both out a walk in the woods to cool off :)
If you want to know more about the benefits of active play, in particular outdoor play then head on over to our blog on the benefits of outdoor play
Written by Laura Mackintosh