Most of us, maybe in fact all of us at some point or the other in our childhood have gone on picnics. Some may have just gone on school excursions and others with more adventurous parents would probably have gone on outings with parents or family friends. Whatever the reason may have been, I think all of us can agree that picnics are immense fun! They are the perfect opportunity to bond with people, to socialize and have fun at the same time.
I remember a childhood that was filled with picnics and not just the “sit in the park kind”. I remember childhood picnics being boat rides, pot lucks, cycling trips, nature treks, park visits, jungle hikes and much more. My childhood was filled with activities that today people would construe as adventure outings & pay money to indulge in. But back then, it was just a part of our regular Sunday afternoon. Just clean old family bonding time, out in the sun with a basket of food in tow.
However, whatever physical activity our picnics involved they always culminated in eating delicious home cooked, easy to eat food. Post our excursion, we would plonk ourselves down and bring out of the yummy food stuff that Mum had packed. So, out would come the sandwiches, the vanilla cake, fruits, Puri-aloo & achaar, tamarind/lemon rice etc along with flasks filled with lassi/cold coffee. Somehow eating out under the sun, the food seemed even more delicious that usual. The eating would always be accompanied with banter & chit-chat. I mean, who can forget the childhood anecdotes of sitting on a picnic mat (a chatai as it is called in North India) and swatting at the buzzing flies or warding off the thieving string of ants, marching away with tiny orts of our food. Picnics are definitely fun and I cherish the memory of these childhood days spent outdoors and as far as possible I have tried to incorporate this culture in my own family too.
Did you know that apart from being a joyous activity, picnics are extremely important for families? They are very important for the development of a child? In fact, they offer several benefits that sometimes are missing from our home environment. Most of the times in our hectic & yet mundane lives, we don’t find enough time to even stop and consider what we are missing out on! Picnic’s help us realize that and much more.
Here are some of the topmost things that I can think of that going on a family picnic helps with –
- Family bonding – picnics are excellent for family bonding. They give us a chance to indulge in an activity for a period of time, in which we are thrown in close contact with our family. Communication being the key to happiness, picnics help us to connect better. The idle banter, the chit-chat, the good-natured jesting; all play a part in making us more aware of what is going on in the lives of our family members. Picnics give us an opportunity to escape from the daily routine and help us open up more with respect to our feelings albeit in a relaxed atmosphere. They definitely do foster better mental health in the long run because if you share with your family, you feel that much closer to them in reality.
Picnics are great for sharing problems/issues the children may be facing at school or in life. They offer a relaxed atmosphere in which to listen and collectively come up with solutions to tackle the problem. When you heed to what your children confide in you about and offer a step by step solution, it helps the children understand that no problem is insurmountable. It gives them the confidence to face things better & they know that they have a confidant & guide in their parents. They imbibe the learning better, if it is given in a friendly manner and that in turn makes them stronger and more decisive in future.
2. Mental health – picnics definitely help foster better mental health. Being out in the sun enhances the production of Vitamin D in the body which is extremely important to ward of depression, fatigue and irritability. There is something about playing in the sun that actually brings out our inner happiness. We feel less restrained & more carefree.
Most of us, in our day to day lives (and particularly so in metropolitan cities with its horrors of long work hours, traffic jams and irregular sleep patterns) do not get the time to enjoy the simple joys that life has to offer like breathing in fresh air, enjoying the feeling of the sun on your face, watching the sun rise or set, hearing the birds chirp early in the morning, playing with our pet dog in the park etc. Picnics, to a great extent give us a chance to enjoy these activities and as a result help us release some of the pent up stress. They work to boost our mood. A weekend picnic can set the tone for the week to follow. A weekend well spent for sure propels us to approach Monday morning with a sunnier attitude.
3. Physical health – time out in the sun or enjoying any physical activity while on a picnic is also good for our overall physical health. It helps to give our muscles a work out. It also increases the absorption of calcium into the bones which is good for bone health, particularly for the children. Breathing in the fresh air also equally beneficial for all involved. In fact making a family ritual of playing picnic games like tug-of-war, tag, hide & seek, cricket, catch ball, Frisbee toss etc help kids stay active and energetic.
So, picnics without doubt are fun. If you do not indulge in this activity with your family then its time you gave it a try. Just pack a lunch and head out this weekend with your family (take the dog too, if you have one) for some good clean fun. Be in the sun or be in the shade, head for the hills or to the beach; just get set and go. Just make your family your priority a little more & enjoy their company in a relaxed atmosphere. Who knows, you may be pleasingly surprised to be a part of an unforgettable experience!
Image – Ben Duchac via unsplash