Now that we’ve added 1000 hours of outdoor time to our days, I’m looking to stack more movement into it. “Stacking” is a term I learned from Katy Bowman, author of Grow Wild, that is how to fulfill multiple needs with a single activity. My goal, then, becomes to stack at least one event within the framework of my day, daily.
“It’s a perfect biofeedback loop: the work required to meet your biological needs today creates a shape capable of continuing to do that work tomorrow.”Katy Bowman, Grow Wild
For example, if I want to get the kids walking every day, I’d add an element – like searching for new spruce tips. We’d collect those along the way, carrying little baskets or jars of them, with all the motions and intention that requires. When we return home, we’d make spruce tip syrup for lime-ade, something we absolutely love and cannot buy and then, probably, some lime-ade too. So we would have stacked the following needs: movement, food, learning, family, and nature.
I guess I love anything with a primitive or Little House on the Prairie angle, and Katy Bowman offers so many reasons to revive ancient movements and promote whole body health.
Stacking spoke to me because it’s been so difficult to add elements back into our lives singly, but overlapping and pressing them together makes more sense. Our two, whole-family favorite ways to get outdoors stack a lot of needs:
- Group hikes meet our social-emotional needs while making the physical movements feel less taxing. My kiddos are old enough to carry packs with their water and snacks inside, so they feel empowered to fill their own needs as they arise, and I feel more confident that they’re able to access emergency supplies (whistles, bandaids) when they’re out of sight, scrambling up a rock pile. Stacked needs: movement, play, food, community, family, and nature.
- We bring a blanket and our art basket near water to picnic while the kids swim or fish. Stacked needs: movement, skill-building (fishing), food, play, community and/or just family, and nature.
- This last one has become part of our homeschool the last two years: foraging. It gives our neighborhood walks purpose, definitely, and we’ve learned how many plants were traditionally harvested and used, mixing history in with our science. I love how each season feels new when we forage, and how we’ve learned to recognize plants anywhere. Stacked needs: movement, family, food/medicine, learning, and nature.
I started doing the first two when they were babies, wearing them as I hiked the front range with other mamas, and I still find them fulfilling now. We’ve built so many of our current friendships around these activities, as the people who want to move through the world, exploring with you, are generally just excellent people.
“Movement is especially challenging to stack – because nobody around us moves that much, we don’t have any examples.”Katy Bowman, Grow Wild
Now that I’ve read Bowman’s book, I’m filled with ideas of where to add movement next. (1) Go back to eating outside, the way we always used to before the wasps started hanging around. I’m going to make these candles to burn to keep them away, and buy a few herbs like lavender and rosemary to plant on the decking too. (2) Get rid of a couch in the living room, creating more space for movements, and find a small coffee table we can play games on instead. (3) Actually make the hallway monkey bars we’ve discussed. (4) Move dinner earlier (and outside!) so we can do a whole-family walk, bike ride or swim afterwards. (5) Install a rope ladder from our railing to the downstairs – just for fun – and one into a tree in our yard (they’re all super high without low branches). (6) Add a swinging chair (eventually two) downstairs where we have support beams.
“We’ve taken movement out of most areas of life and then approached kids’ natural energy and need and capacity for movement by putting them into scheduled, structured, and limited movement sessions to use up their energy so that they don’t run in the house, fidget in class, or stay active in other sedentary spaces we’ve created.”Katy Bowman, Grow Wild
Want more inspiration to stack movements? Grow Wild: The Whole-Child, Whole-Family, Nature-Rich Guide to Moving More by Katy Bowman is full of ideas – and research that proves the importance of movement as a nutrient we’re missing in our sedentary culture.