Yesterday I ventured into the wilderness to find some quite space. I responsibly texted my sister to let her know where I was headed. Her response to me, “Please don’t fall,” and my rebuttal, “I promise.” I packed my protein bar, filled my water backpack, and grabbed my hiking shoes. I was excited for my rare opportunity to be in nature without gentle hands tugging me for a snack or urging me to find a potty. It was me and nature.
The gentle 1.2 mile nature walk to the falls is what I really craved. It was easy, mindless and it gave me what I needed: the rushing waters and waterfall. I ate my protein bar enjoyed the beautiful sounds of waves crashing and the swirls of water dancing.
And that was all I needed. The water.
And as I started my gentle walk to my car, my curiosity saw mountain bikers hauling their bikes up the big boulders, and the very-prepared hiker with ropes and chalk for climbing, and the advanced hiking group who competed against each other with every rock. And I wondered …
This was my sign to turn back. Take the path that brought me here. But, I didn’t listen, because I was curious and I wanted more time in nature.
I won’t get into the 10.2 miles of trekking, hiking, and then panicking. I’m sure anyone can imagine the feeling of being lost in the woods with no one around, no food, and almost no water. It was overwhelming and anxiety took over me. Heavy breaths began and I started to think about, what if. What if I can’t get out? Will my sister call for help? Will my kids be okay? What if … ?
And through these What If’s?, I found my phone and turned on the GPS to my parked car. It worked. And after over 12.2 miles of hiking – much over the anticipated 3.4 miles – I found my car. My car! It was parked where I left it! It was waiting for me.
And I breathed in a sigh of relief.
I share this story with you because I often see my son lost in the “wilderness” (or his puzzle, his books, his Legos). It often takes hours for him to shift into what I need him to do. I’ve seen the panic set-in when he can’t find his favorite pair of Batman pajamas with the hood (so he can be hidden under his covers).
So when your child gets lost in his or her forest, here are some tips to extend a life-line.
- Wrap them in a weight blanket. My favorite blanket is made by Sensa Calm.
- Pour a few drops of an essential oil onto a cotton ball or in the palms of your hand – and allow your kiddo to inhale. My son’s go-to oil is Wild Orange by DoTerra. For him, this calms his tummy, wakes him up, and makes him smile. Peppermint is also a good one because its cleansing properties are soothing and uplifting.
- Snuggle them into a big sensory (bear) hug so your child can feel the presence of someone else – and lessen the feelings of anxiety.
- Turn on a favorite song or genre of music. I always play the soundtrack from Pirates of the Caribbean. This shifts my son’s thinking and doing into the present moment.
- Love them in the moment of panic when it’s 9:30 at night and you also want to fall asleep. Love them when they wake-up crying because they can’t find the flashlight. Love them when they lose the head to a Lego figure.
And, the most important, remember that your child’s fears are as real as getting lost in a forest. Honor those fears and help them find their parked car.
Resources from my above mentioned Tips: