When I came across Yvonne’s IG @followingjoy, I thought to myself I’d love to be a mum like her if I could restart my journey. A fellow mum of boys, Yvonne incorporate a lot of outdoor and nature play for herself and her sons daily. She also started the “little libraries” movement across the island with community libraries at lift lobbies. The ground-up initiative has inspired many to do the same.
We speak with Yvonne who shares with us why nature is so important and how we can bring some joy to our neighbours with little libraries.
Tell us more about yourself and your lovely family.
I’m Yvonne, a happy full-time mama who enjoys following my two boys Hugo and Harley (ages 4 and 2) around the island every day!
We see how much your children enjoy nature, can you tell us more about why they have so much outdoor time?
Growing up, many of my fondest memories revolved around nature. I hope to have the same too for my children. We spend most mornings out in nature, at a park, garden, forest, stream or any slice of greenery.
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To me the benefits of nature is immense, it is beyond the body, the mind, it also extends to the heart. I hope to let nature be their best friend and to let them first connect with nature and from there to the world.
Sharing with you a favourite quote: ‘In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught.’ Baba Diome
I hope they grow up to love and be a protector of our world and it’s beings, to know that we are one with nature and to be a person of the community and the world.
An added benefit to our nature time is that as a parent I feel significantly more relaxed, calm and patient after our time in nature.
What are some tips you have for parents who would like to include more nature play with their children?
Start where you are with just a short trip to a little nature spot to get your child and yourself ‘acclimatised’ to being in nature together. It doesn’t have to be a full day out, start with what pocket of undisturbed time you have. It may be a beautiful nature park, the gardens in your neighbourhood or just at your own little garden at home, it is as wonder-filled to the child.
I find that a slow, unhurried, itinerary free nature play is a great ingredient for an amazing time in nature. Give them the freedom within your own safety and comfort zone, let them lead you at their pace and preference, sometimes it may just be at the same spot all morning and that is fine too, that is usually when the magic happens.
Children are 100% washable
This is one of my favourite phrases to remember. Children love to explore, wade in streams and roll in puddles, hug trees, jumps on leaf piles, follow a chicken or squirrel. I would bring a complete change of clothes or towel to bundle them in. Bring a change of clothes or towel for yourself too since your generous child would love to invite you in to experience the fun too!
Say yes if possible
Say yes to their requests to explore whilst in nature. Understand what it is they are trying to convey before you react and if it’s not anything dangerous let them try it, they learn best by putting their ideas in action, sometimes even (especially) the not so sound ideas.
Could you tell us more about @littlelibrarysg and what inspired it?
@littlelibrarysg is a little initiative I started with my children in January this year. The spark for this idea started some months ago when we rescued a box of books by the rubbish chute. There were several children books in there in great condition and in one of them was a little hand written note from a godparent to their god-daughter Sarah 15 years ago.
When I saw the simple note I am touched by the love of the godparents and how the book must have brought Sarah so much joy. I could still feel the joy holding the book. I thought, if only there is a place for us to share our preloved books with more readers and create precious memories with the same book over and over again and so the little library was born.
It’s been nine months since the conception of the little library and we have had regular pop-up events like reading sessions, book giveaways, community exchange and donations, festivals and crafts. With each event, our little community grew and have now resonated beyond the neighbourhood, we often see visitors from all around the island coming to our events.
In addition, we now have a nature corner that is as popular with the children as is with their parents. A little nook where we host nature guests like ant colonies, birds nest, caterpillars and tadpoles. Most of these guests can be found within/near the estate. We wanted to share the fascination of nature with children and to remind them that nature and beauty can be found all around us!
On a regular day we often come back to the heartwarming sight of children sitting snuggly on the lap of a mother, father or grandparent reading a book at the little library. Or curious children with their parents visiting and observing the nature guests at our little nature corner.
We hope that this warm community family is a place our children can grow up in where no one is a stranger and everyone is warm and friendly and always looking out for each other. As William Butler Yates aptly puts, “there are no strangers in the world, just friends we have yet met”.
How can our readers start their own library or donate books to one of the little libraries?
Since the start of the little library, there have been many who have connected with us and quite a number of them have started their own lovely little library corner in various parts of Singapore. We hope to meet like-minded families and connect the book lovers with these little libraries too! Hence we started a platform where you can find out where all the little libraries are to visit or donate books to one near you.
If you are thinking of starting one too you can list your little library there and share the news. We welcome you to connect with us here at our Little Libraries Singapore Facebook group for updates and an inventory of the little libraries community around the island!
A usual day out with the children would be a less trodden park, away from the hustle and bustle activity-dense area. It’s a great way to bond with each other amidst nature and stay safe during this covid season. Whilst we are out we enjoy packing a picnic mat and some snacks for a picnic.
I would bring a book or two and some paper to sketch or paint and do whatever their hearts desire. When you start to slow down in nature, have no where you needed to be and nothing you needed to do that’s where the magic happens. No little day out in nature is ever wasted.
Follow Joy in Nature and Books
Thank you Yvonne, for sharing your joys and inspiring us to do the same. To find out more about her parenting journey, click here.