The Importance of Eating Outdoors
Considering the wonderful weather we were having, I thought it would be a nice experience to have this discussion group outside. I live in a quiet neighborhood in a small town and had images of birds chirping in the background with a nice fire going in my chimenia while we nibbled on little "finger food" type snacks that would be perfect for any picnic.
Despite my best laid plans, my neighbors who live on both sides of me decided that would be a good night to cut the grass. So much for a peaceful evening.
Chapter 37 in Karen Andreola's book A Charlotte Mason Companion was a short one, but one worth discussing.
Eating outdoors is probably one of the easiest things to do to get you started on a Charlotte Mason lifestyle. If you don't regularly eat outside, purpose to take your lunch outside to your yard (or porch or balcony) to eat once a week. Any lunch, whether you heat it up in the microwave or eat sandwiches - take them outside.
While eating outside, you will be forced to slow down a bit. Observe what is around you. Birds chirping, leaves blowing in the wind, lawn mowers next door (lol). As you observe, discuss your observations and encourage your kids to do the same. This will cause you to eat slower which is a healthful habit.
You can take a picnic anywhere. Your back yard or a park are the first places that come to mind. If you have a busy day and you must eat lunch away from home, pack it in a cooler and find a shady spot in which to eat. It may be on a bench on a busy sidewalk or on a curb in a quiet parking lot.
Once in a while, my kids and I will have an impromtu picnic. We run to the grocery store in between stops (because we have to stop and get lunch anyway) and get a bag of cheese cubes, some fruit like apples or grapes, a jar of pickles, some multi-grain rolls and some bottled water. Sometimes I will let them get the salad bar at the grocery store. Still cheaper and healthier than eating at the golden arches. We take that to a local park to eat before we are off to the next activity or errand. They love it.
The less messy the food, the more enjoyable the picnic. Our family prefers finger foods so we don't have to worry about silverware. However, picnics are the best places to eat crusty bread and have little to clean up. Just brush the crumbs onto the ground and you're good to go.
If you plan a picnic, you may take along some poetry or drawing paper and some pencils. Taking a nature journal wouldn't hurt either.
Eating outdoors is good for you. You eat more slowly and fresh air and sunshine are good for our souls. I hear that all of these things are good for our physical bodies as well. Being together in such a way is also a bonding experience with our children.