The Calming Benefits of Green Space for Your Hectic Family

Green space calms me. Like many moms, I often find myself drowning in chaos and wondering how I managed to get through the day. Exhausted, frustrated, and overwhelmed starts to feel like the norm sometimes.

I’ve found it extremely important to infuse stress relief into my life whenever possible to alleviate some of that parenting craziness, like green space.

Spending time in green space is the most beneficial stress relief I’ve found. My definition of green space as it relates to this life hack is this: greenery, plants, or natural areas incorporated into your home, routine, and lifestyle to improve your quality of life. 

green spaceBeing in green space – nature – is scientifically proven to reduce stress, decrease anger, create calm, reduce blood pressure, lower heart rate, help with depression and improve mood for adults and children.

Nature can also encourage creativity and clarity. In fact, I created the concept and draft for this article while walking down a dirt road surrounded by green space – vegetation, blue skies, and bird song. I was thinking about how my walks have become my favorite activity. I began marveling at how the movement and the exposure to nature shift my mood. I ended up spending my entire walk thinking about all the beneficial ways nature has impacted my experience as a mother.  

For example, the other night after a stressful day at work, doing daycare pickup, running to grab dinner supplies, and then heading home to cook I felt wildly overwhelmed. I made it through the madness but was feeling grumpy and irritable. I had more chores to finish though, so I filled a pink unicorn watering can and asked my daughter to help me water the plants. We worked our way through the 10 house plants on the windowsill. The bay window filled with vines and leaves happily growing toward the sun made me smile.

After the house plants were watered and caressed with compliments and carbon dioxide we went out to the porch. My daughter doused the Boston Ferns while I kept my personal favorite for myself: the English Lavender. I reveled in the scent, rubbing my fingers across the soft, tiny leaves, and as I emptied the watering can over them they, in turn, poured calm into me and filled my soul with joy.

I ended the day in my own green space, as content as any human can be. The “chore” of watering the plants has become a tool for finding calm when I’m ready to snap. It’s also an incredible opportunity to teach my daughter life skills involving responsibility, consistency, delayed gratification, and connection to nature. I don’t know how this activity could be any more beneficial for a hectic family. Every family should have at least one house plant.

windowsill house plants
watering ferns

If you are not known to have a green thumb, I recommend starting with something hearty and low maintenance like the Snake Plant, Aloe, Pothos, or a Spider Plant, or try growing some herbs (like my favorite, lavender) to create a healthy, usable product. Your local nursery or garden department should be able to help you get started and will most likely have some of these hard-to-kill plants pre-potted and ready to go. Get on a roll with your new baby and see where the plant-mom journey takes you, but remember it’s supposed to relieve stress so don’t jump in over your head and create a new source of anxiety. Once you master the house plant you can start working more green space into your life in bigger (but just as simple) ways. 

Halls LAke hike
SBD treat farm
butterfly house

Getting outdoors is the next natural step in incorporating green space. Playing in the backyard, finding a local park, walking a dirt road, or hitting the local hiking trails is a sure-fire way to zen out and enhance the quality of life for you and your kids. You may be thinking “I don’t have time for that,” but I promise you will end up less stressed the more you push to devote time to getting outside.

In fact, I’ve learned when my daughter is fussy or throwing tantrums for extra attention, it’s probably time to take a break and go play in the yard for a while. I always see a positive shift in her mood and she requires a lot less attention as she plays outdoors and runs free, tapping into her imagination and curiosity. While I am still supervising her, it gives me a break from the leg-clutching-melt-down-mood.

If you are not outdoorsy at all, my suggestion is to start with taking the kids outdoors once a week and getting outside to walk or hike on your own, with your partner, or with an adult friend at least once a week. Angela of Mid-Michigan Moms published this Beginner’s Guide to Hiking With Kids as well, a great post to check out!

If you are already a nature lover, push yourself to incorporate nature as a larger and more consistent part of your family routine, and watch the benefits affect everyone. Parents and children of all ages and phases of life can benefit from connecting with nature’s green space and including green space in day-to-day life.

If you need help finding green space near you, visit Heart of the Lakes to find local public lands, search for trails or parks on Google Maps or check out local Rails-to-Trails routes. 

Happy Trails!

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Hi, I'm Lexis, a soul-searching mama and wife running on caffeine and restlessness. I'm raising a wild toddler while working full-time for a land conservancy in Central Michigan. I'm at peace in nature and spend a lot of time hiking and exploring, curating adventures, and visiting new places with my family. True crime documentaries, live music, and gripping novels are my preferred forms of entertainment. A student of the human experience, I'm constantly working to master my mental, spiritual and physical health. Empowering other women fuels me so I share my life as authentically as possible over on my Instagram, @lexis_hansen. I'm grateful to Mid-Michigan Moms for the opportunity to share the humbling and beautiful journey of motherhood with you all!