Every year we take a summer vacation to the family cottage in the north woods of WI. The cottage has been part of my husband’s whole life and his father’s and his grandfather’s. Lots of history there. Thus, we make a point of taking our son from Texas to the family cottage every year. We have been doing it since before he was one-year-old and plan on continuing this tradition. I love this tradition for many reasons.
Our cottage trip means nature therapy and a technology break deep in the north woods on a beautiful small lake. What makes the cottage special is that it is old, rustic and lacks some modern features. There is no land phone line, no internet, no cable, and only a couple local TV channels (used for weather only) with the help of a high-tech antenna. In years past it only had one channel on clear weather days. So, my son gets a kick out of the new antenna. He could care less about what is on the TV but finds the antenna fascinating. And, during a windstorm the antenna comes down. My in-laws cell phone gets reception there, but most don’t unless out on the road or on the dock. If you walk down the road about ⅓ a mile there is an internet hotspot out at the intersection of two small roads. The cottage does have running water and electricity and a fireplace. For us, we don’t need more.
Instead of technology, the cottage is a place to get away. I view it as nature therapy. We view it as a huge screen time break. My son loves it there. Instead of technology there is lots of nature exploration, natural observation, canoeing, kayaking, pontoon boat rides, swimming, fishing, hiking, and free play. There is no time schedule or deadlines. Instead, it’s all about being outside and enjoying nature as well as the family. There are campfires, hauling wood, gathering kindling, cutting wood, catching worms, picking berries, and cutting down dead trees. There are trail cams, deer stands, looking for deer road trips, listening for loons, watching for eagles, and star gazing. The cottage offers a different kind of learning. It truly is getting back in touch with nature and simpler times.
The cottage allows for free play in an environment we don’t have back home. We take screen breaks back home in TX. However, we live in the 4th largest city of the US and there is not much available for nature therapy. We do take advantage of the state parks, local parks, botanical gardens, and beaches that are within driving distance. It is not the same as the nature therapy we get up at the cottage. Thus, we need our tradition of escaping to the family cottage. And, we do find smaller chunks of nature time with other vacations or weekend camping trips. The point is, we need to let kids play freely outdoors more often. Screen time breaks are a great way to reset.