New Rule: Be Without a Ceiling

Written by Wendy Sue Swanson MD

I’ve got a new rule. And this is coming from a woman who grew up in Minnesota and who lives in Seattle. I’m stating clearly first: weather is no excuse.

I’ve talked in many places on this blog about the reality that there are only a few “rights” to parenting. In my opinion, as a mom and pediatrician, the “rights” include things like getting your children immunized and properly using car/booster seats.

Beyond that, the rest of the parenting is a smattering of “doing right,” versions that vary and resonate from person to person and child to child. The thing is, most of us do it very well, without strict rules. That is, out of love and instinct, we parent our children well. We shelter them. Protect them. Feed them. Shield them from harm. Provide opportunity.

Often, the information we read about parenting does more to break our spirits than it does to bolster phenomenal, inventive ideas. And even though a physician friend recently told me that he subscribes to “‘good enough’ parenting,” and that I tend to agree, I believe this week I’ve stumbled upon the third possible “right.” Tell me if you think I’m wrong because I just can’t conceptualize the counter-argument to my claim:

Go outside with your children every day. Move in a space that has no ceiling.

With the rising digital demand on our lives and with technology seeping into every space, getting outside remains one basic and beautiful way to stay healthy, connected, and opportunistic with your children. And better yet, it’s a great way for your children to be afforded the luxury to roam, create, and play.

Not only will your children move and exercise, they’ll experience nature. Nature, as simple as the sticks on the sidewalk or the grass in the boulevard–or nature, like the spaces where you see-hear-smell-touch nothing man-made. All of it, any of it, every day. It seems to me that nature is something we’ve nearly forgotten to prioritize with our time here on earth.

So don the coat, the mittens, the hat, or the sunscreen. Whenever illness doesn’t get in your way, do whatever you can to remain comfortable and protected, and then get outside each and every day with your children. Move in a space with no ceiling.

Dr. Swanson practicing pediatrician and the mother of two young boys.  She sees patients at The Everett Clinic in Mill Creek, Washington. She is also  on the medical staff at Seattle Children’s and am a Clinical Instructor in theDepartment of Pediatrics at the University of Washington. Dr. Swanson is passionate about improving the way media discusses pediatric health news and influences parents’ decisions when caring for their children.