Perspectives from Australia on Motherhood, Childcare and Personal Wellbeing
The Material world and Nature: creating a balance
Who doesn’t enjoy being outdoors, especially when you are in a place like Sydney? The green patches, open skies and fresh air revitalizes both old and young, the smallest to the largest of creatures. Kids, especially, love spending time outdoors, be it at the languorous beaches, the creative parks spanning acres of space or simply, their backyards.
Relocating to a new country with two little cubbies can be a daunting experience, and I was no exception to this. However, once you master the initial hurdles and simplify your lifestyle to suit the needs of living abroad, you suddenly appreciate a host of wonderful things around you and realize the importance of the little things in life; like sprawling parks, open skies and fresh air. It is only with a certain amount of maturity, more so after becoming a parent, that one realizes that these seemingly little things are our very basic necessities, the core of our existence and non-negotiable aspect of our lives.
While wandering through plush suburban colonies of Sydney that display homes and bungalows as beautiful as modern-day palaces, one can’t help and admire the country that has achieved such great amounts of material comforts and standards and yet not compromised on these basic needs of every human being. Australia too is a consumption driven society but still, its rivers and beaches are pristine, there is a copious amount of flora and lush green parks, and most importantly, fresh, clean air.
Looking around me, I can not help but wonder, how we, as individuals, responsible citizens of our beautiful motherland, India, can help to make our surroundings clean and our homes, green. For our nonchalance and apathy, greed and inability to strike a balance between material growth and our environment will make our children pay a huge price for our failure. Which is neither desirable, nor fair, wouldn’t you agree?
To be able to think and care for Nature and our Environment, we have to be ‘involved’ with it. This is a major difference I have found between the urban societies of Australia and India. Here, people make an effort to spend quality time in activities designed and developed around nature. Be it surfing the waters, camping in the forests, early morning bush walks, long walks along the walking trails, spending weekends in the park picnicking or socializing over a barbecue, planting trees and gardening. Every house that has young children, has ample amount of gardening tools, gum boots and watering pots to engage their interest in gardening. Often herbs and smaller varieties of vegetables are grown in the backyards. An environment is created for the children to be outdoors as much as possible, and thus, feel one with Mother Earth.
Unfortunately, in India, very few of the urban homes or schools are able to encourage and practice such activities. At times, it is the dearth of options or space but often it is the lack of will to take up nature-centric exercises. Yes, we do have challenges, but we have to find our way around them, lest our children grow up in a lopsided world seeing only the material comforts and with a complete lack of understanding of nature and our environment.
Towards this end, only if we are able to inculcate respect, interest and love towards nature from their early years, can be expect the next generation to grow up as conscious citizens who take an interest in protecting their environments. The only way to hope to teach something to your child is to create an example and follow it yourself. There is no better way to impart a learning. If we ourselves stay disconnected and aloof from Nature and the activities around it, our children are only going emulate us. And, the vicious cycle of ecological degradation will continue.
So, as responsible parents, let us take a conscious decision to engage ourselves more with nature. Each of us is in a different situation and in varying circumstances, so it is difficult to prepare a ‘rule book’ of what are the steps to follow to ‘engage with nature’. But surely, each of us can, and must, do something about it.
Amongst the many ways to connect with nature and surroundings, one possibility that each urban household should consider, is to make a point to ‘revisit’ its roots. Trace your roots to your village, and take your children every now and then to these villages, or remote corners of our beautiful country, and see what a wonderful learning it will be for them, and you. The infrastructure there may be raw and unappealing, but these trips will offer a far greater connect to your historical background, nature and the quiet simplicities of the village life. Only when we are able to balance the material needs with our environment, can we hope for a better future for ourselves and the generations to come, and be a better country.