It’s not fun following behind an ambulance … and a timely reminder that spending quality time and being 100% present and in the moment is one of the greatest gifts you can give your family.

I wrote last week about how important it was to schedule in real quality time with family. But you already knew that!

Well, there’s nothing quite like one of those cherished family members being involved in an accident to give you a really big reality check.

It pretty quickly brings home how precious family – and indeed life itself – is. You also become acutely aware that life’s too short for “What if’s” and “I wish’s”, and of how easily and quickly time can be whittled away or wasted by distractions.

It’s just so important to make time for each other, and when you do, it’s even more important to be present. Practicing being 100% present, in the moment, and focused on what you’re doing and who you’re doing it with will have an incredible positive impact on your relationships.

I’m sitting here in the hospital waiting for Michael to come back from surgery. You see, last Wednesday afternoon my beloved took on a power saw … and lost.

Tan and Michael at Halls Gap Zoo - July 2014

Fortunately, it absolutely could’ve been worse and we are blessed that it required only reconstructive surgery for him on two fingers. Plastic surgeons sure are incredible when they can take a bit of bone from a toe, relocate and repurpose it to become a finger joint, and he should have almost full function in it.

As for the toe, his only concern there really is whether he will still be able to wear thongs/flip-flops!

The accident happened whilst Michael was doing something really sweet for me. Making the effort to do special things for each other is something that we try to do in our family regularly. It’s often the little things that mean the most, a kind word or a hand on a shoulder, a special song or story before bed, playing the “appreciation game” at the end of the day, a kick of the footy outside, or simply even a smile to let our kids know that they are loved unconditionally. Michael and I try to be good role models and lead by example, but we’re the first to admit it takes consistency and effort to make sure we don’t get caught up in life’s many distractions.  

Michael loves building things and is very good and very safety conscious. On Wednesday afternoon he had excitedly bought a new blade for his circular saw and was cutting some pieces of timber for me to use in an upcoming workshop that I am running for teens on peer leadership and discovering and living their passions. These amazing young adults will be assembling the boxes together and using them as “tool boxes” to help inspire them and their school mates to live happier, healthier, more passionate lives.

He’d cut the pieces for one toolbox and had decided to surprise me and cut a slice from naturally heart shaped small log that I had found and present it to me when I arrived home.

He cut one slice perfectly and had decided to do another. That didn’t turn out so well – for the piece of wood or for two of his fingers.

But as I said, it could’ve been a whole lot worse.

As Michael travelled down in the Ambulance for the 90 minute trip to Geelong, I followed behind in the car. For the first 45 minutes of that trip I still hadn’t actually seen him since the morning of the accident.

As I drove, I was acutely focused on the back of the ambulance in front of me, and a million thoughts buzzed through my mind. Of course, there was a LOT of “I hope he’s going to be ok”, but many of those thoughts were also ”What if’s” and “I wish’s”.


When we stopped half way for an ambulance change over, both Michael and I were relieved to actually see each other as I climbed into the back of the ambulance to say hi and give him a big kiss.

Driving behind that ambulance definitely wasn’t a nice feeling, and really our situation was relatively minor in comparison to so many. Reflecting again as we continued our trip, again I focused on the back of the ambulance but now my thoughts turned to those of gratefulness that he was ok and that as a family we were strong and surrounded by love.

And as often happens after a reality check like that, I once again promised myself that I’d REALLY make the most of every day that Michael and I shared together and with our kids.

To make quality time with each other a priority,
and when we’re together to be really present
and not distracted by a million other things.

Life’s too short and too precious not to.

But therein lies the challenge, how do we do it – and make sure we stick to it consistently? I’d love to hear how you do that in your family.

Connecting with nature and helping others do so is one of my great passions, but ultimately connecting families is why I do the work I do.

Luckily for me (and you!) spending time in nature just happens to be such a perfect place and conduit for strengthening family bonds.

 As the saying goes … “There is no Wi-Fi in the forest but I promise you’ll find a better connection”.

mummy and nash time

In her report for the Children & Nature Network Professor Martha (Marti) Erickson, (Developmental Psychologist and Researcher Co-Founder and Past Chair, Children and Nature Network; Founder, Mom Enough)  discusses shared nature experience as a promising avenue for building strong family connections. The report is entitled “Shared Nature Experience as a Pathway to Strong Family Bonds” and you’ll find it by clicking the link below.

C&NN Shared Nature Experience as a Pathway to Strong Family Bonds

shared nature family bonds

It’s a compelling and interesting read, and won’t take long …  I know you’re busy!.

Certainly there are many ways to build and sustain family bonds. But in today’s hurried, high-tech world, shared nature experience presents a natural opportunity for families to put into practice the most important components of strong, healthy relationships — sensitive interactions, affective sharing, joint problem-solving, interdependence, and, free from the many distractions of most households, emotional availability to each other. Shared nature experience, both simple and elaborate, is something families can enjoy together from the earliest months of a baby’s life through every stage of the child’s development and right on into adulthood (even into the next generation, as I have had the delight of experiencing in recent years).

Excerpt from Shared Nature Experience as a Pathway to Strong Family Bonds. Martha Farrell Erickson, Ph.D., Children & Nature Network

I was thrilled to have the opportunity to chat with Marti in my Nurture in Nature interview series also. Here’s the link to get free access to that interview I hope you enjoy it too.

In the interview, I talk with Marti about the growing body of research advocating reconnecting children with nature and how it can help kids feel connection, competence and contribution: 3 keys for helping them grow into healthy, happy adults. You’ll learn how shared nature experiences can help nurture strong family bonds, both in the early years and as our children grow, and how time in nature can have a calming and restorative effect on your kids – and you! You’ll also be inspired by how Marti’s family harness the power of nature to bring them together  … and help with what her Grandson calls “Getting the Wild Out”!

Ok, so now it may sound opportunistic that I am about to turn Michael’s mishap this week into talking about my upcoming Family Nature Connection Retreat, but it’s more of a timely reminder for you to make quality time with your family a priority than it is a sales pitch to get you to come along.

But really, if you can, you and your family should come along!

You’ll be making the time for quality time with your family and showing your commitment to being really present for them, away from the distractions that life often throws your way.

So, click HERE if you want to find out more about the retreat and book in to come along.

Regardless of if you are or aren’t joining us at the retreat, I encourage you to read Marti’s report and listen to my interview with her.

Then make the commitment (and take action) to get out in nature with your family regularly to strengthen those all-important family bonds.

Like I said, life’s too short and too precious not to.

Oh, yay, the nurse just told me she’s bringing Michael back after surgery right now.

Perfectly timed to for me to switch off my laptop and on to him!

Just before I go, I’d love it if you’d to share your thoughts below (in the Facebook comments section) on the following questions …

How do you and your family connect with nature and what have you noticed and experienced in your family’s relationships as a result?


What is your greatest takeaway from these interviews?

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