Sam and Elliott Coffey outside

Sam and Elliott Coffey enjoying being outside. 

This summer, I have new words to live by: “Time spent among trees is never time wasted.”

It’s one of those quotes credited to “anonymous,” but it’s actually from motivational author Katrina Mayer.

Those words are mine now, and I’m vowing to live them this year with my kids.

As a kid, I would rather play outside than inside any day of the year. I climbed trees, ran barefoot through the woods behind our house and tried — without luck — to befriend the birds. If the Disney princesses could do it, why couldn’t I?

I think I might've passed that down to my kids, because they're always trying to talk to birds and rabbits, and get upset when they fly or hop away. They beg to go on walks through the neighborhood or to climb our little backyard playground.

Of course, it isn't always easy to get outside. It was especially hard when my kids were babies. However, now that they are older, I have so many plans for us.

This year I want to go hiking, camping, fishing and plant a garden. Last weekend we cleared our garden of last year's tomato plant remnants and got it ready for planting next month. My 5-year-old son, Sam, was particularly interested in helping. He helped pull weeds and even examined — from a lengthy distance — the spiders who had taken up residence in the corner of the fence. He asked me questions about the type of things we'd plant in the garden and even gave a suggestion: carrots.

(I actually tried planting those last year without success, so if anyone out there has tips, please let me know. I have a 5-year-old who would be very interested in the results.)

But really, I simply want to be outside more with my kids — even if we're doing nothing more than playing in our backyard. My grandma passed her love of nature to me, and I want to pass my love of our earth to my kids. After all, we get only one, and we need everyone on board to take care of it. 

Earth Day is April 22. I hope to celebrate by planting a tree with my boys at my parents’ farm. We'll check on it year after year. I want them to see how something so tiny and seemingly insignificant can grow into a powerful thing with just a little care.

There's nothing better than watching your child grown and learn about the world around them. I want them to enjoy the dirt under their fingernails, the breeze blowing through their hair or even that spider working hard to make its web. I hope they continue to ask if they can go play outside every day.

And as they grow older, I want them to think about how what they're doing every day affects the environment around them. At home, we’ll continue to set a good example by recycling, unplugging, picking up trash and planting a garden. They're little things will hopefully add up to make a much bigger impact.

That’s this mom’s dream anyway.

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