For Families

Re-design your family life, with nature as your guide

It’s not easy being a parent, or a child in today’s world. If you and your child are struggling we have a variety of solutions.

Nature has evolved ways for new life to thrive over hundreds of millions of years, but recently we humans have put in place systems that stifle creativity, keep children and teens from accessing the freedom of the outdoors, and heaped stresses and pressures on everyone. No wonder our children are stressed, anxious and unwell.

Nature has been raising healthy and thriving offspring for hundreds of millions of years – the natural principles and patterns that living beings have developed are your new family guidebook – ready to access every time you set foot outdoors.

On this page you’ll find solutions to:

  • Encourage your child into the outdoors to benefit from nature-connection
  • Support a child or teenager who’s struggling
  • Re-design your family life
  • Improve communication between you and your child/teen
  • Have better work-life balance so you and your family benefit

Sarah Spencer, founder of Think like a Tree has raised three children (now young adults) and knows what it’s like to worry and them and be anxious about the world we are raising children in.

The family of five have had there fair share of ups and downs with Sarah’s health issues particularly impacting them, but despite this nature has been a place that the family can come together. She has discovered many answers to the family’s problems by learning from nature’s wisdom.

When the children were small they made the giant leap of buying a smallholding with Sarah’s parents, to raise the children in natural surroundings, it’s been hard work but very rewarding. The children have learned natural ways, such as permaculture by observing and helping out.

Inspired by Acorns Activity book for kids

Create deep and lasting bonds with nature, for happiness, health, connection and a positive future.

Encourage your child into the outdoors with these fun, creative and educational ways to learn from the wisdom of trees, allowing children to effortless immerse themselves in nature.

Its beautifully illustrated pages are packed with practical exercises and inspirational messages to spark their creativity, with plenty of space to write, draw, stick, colour, create and ponder.

The activity book also reveals natural principles that are the living world’s secrets to growth, strength, and resilience.

We and our children are part of the natural world, so these simple messages will develop their emotional and physical intelligence and resilience.

Inspired by Acorns Activity book for kids can be used as a stand-alone book for children, or purchased with Inspired by Trees Creative workbook (for adults).  

Each book has equivalent activities for adults and children on each page, to benefit adult and child wellbeing simultaneously.

  • Take the stress out of play time
  • Quality time for you and your child/children
  • Explore eco issues gently together
  • Improve your own mental health alongside that of your child
  • Nature-connection activities proven for wellbeing, mental and physical health
  • Fun educational activities (that the kids won’t realise they are learning)…

Inspired by Trees Creative workbook

Inspired by Trees offers accessible, fun and thought-provoking ways to learn from the wisdom of trees so you can transform the way you think about yourself and the world.

Its beautifully illustrated pages are packed with practical exercises and inspirational messages to spark your creativity, encouraging you to write, draw, create and ponder.

Conscious and green living tips will help transform your love of the natural world into positive action.

The workbook also reveals natural principles that are the living world’s secrets to success, growth, problem-solving and resilience. We are part of the natural world, so these principles can guide us if we know how to access them.

Solutions for families

Family workshops

From £5

The Workshops

Think like a Tree facilitators run workshops at Rosliston Forestry Centre in South Derbyshire.

Check out our courses section to see what’s on offer.

 

 

or

Facilitators can come and run workshops for families/children at your venue, school, forest school, group etc.

Please contact us to discuss your requirements.

Think like a Tree online group programme

£150* – £195

The programme:

  • Use the natural principles to design an aspect of your family life
  • Step-by-step design cycle
  • Via Zoom
  • In-depth course booklet and resources

You are looking for:

  • A tried and tested framework to bring about change
  • A programme that will apply to your unique circumstances
  • Practical steps to help you to shift your mindset, your habits and your daily life

 

You:

  • Enjoy learning as part of a group
  • Want to attend from further away, including outside the UK
  •  Have a health or other issue that makes online better than in-person.
  • Have family commitments that make online better than in-person.

Think like a Tree in-person
group
programme

£180* – £240

The programme:

  • Use the natural principles to design an aspect of your life
  • Step-by-step design cycle
  • Beautiful woodland locations in the UK
  • In-depth course booklet and resources

You are looking for:

  • A tried and tested framework to bring about change
  • A programme that will apply to your unique circumstances
  • Practical steps to help you to shift your mindset, your habits and your daily life
  •  

You:

  • Enjoy learning as part of a group
  • Love being in beautiful woodland locations, learning directly from nature.

Think like a Tree
1 to 1 programme

£3500

The programme:

  • Use the natural principles to design an aspect of your family life
  • Step-by-step design cycle
  • Either, beautiful woodland locations in the UK, or
  • Online via Zoom (or hybrid)
  • Experienced and empathetic coaches
  • In-depth course booklet and resources

You are looking for:

  • someone to guide you to find solutions for you to support your child 
  • someone to guide you to find solutions for you to support your teen or young adult child
  • a holistic approach that takes your life, work and your family life into account
  • a programme that will support you to thrive in your own right and support others

You:

  • Prefer working one to one with a coach
  • Want to dive deep into an issue with a knowledgeable guide
  • Want someone who knows the ups and downs of family life who will support without judgement
  • Want someone willing to compassionately challenge your current beliefs and habits. 

Think like a Tree: The natural principles guide to life

“A set of natural principles as a manual for the modern world” – John Everitt, Chief Executive, The National Forest Company

What does your nature-inspired family life look like?

Hover over each box to find out more.

Unique

Discover your unique nature, value yourself and learn how to show up in the world in a way that other people will value you too.

Support your child to see their uniqueness as strength.

Banish anxiety and negative feelings of ‘being different’ forever.

Simpler

Simplify your life – your home, your work, your mind and your family routine.

Learn to embrace complexity without becoming stressed.

Let go of clutter, stuff and tangled thoughts.

We did not evolve to live in the modern industrial, consumer world so it’s not surprising we get stressed. Step away from the systems that are preventing you and your family from thriving.

Purposeful

Discover what makes you come alive as a family,

Find healthy activities you all enjoy.

Let go of judging yourself against other families or social media images.

Nurtured

Create conditions for you and your family to truly thrive. Discover what to change and what to keep, at home and at work. Feed the ‘soil’ so you can grow strong.
Let go (compost) old habits and anxieties that are holding you and your kids back.

Resilient

Learn how to creatively respond to change, embracing setbacks as new opportunities. Celebrate ‘failure’ as genuine progress.

Show your children that bouncebackability is what matters.

Ditch the mindset that labels you and your children as failures when things don’t go to plan.

Let go of any blame culture that you were raised in.

Connected

Discover how to communicate in ways that your partner and kids will listen. Embrace reciprocity as a way of life – learning how, by collaborating, you can ensure your needs, and the needs of others, are met.
Let go of blame and shame in your family relationships.

Don't let old communication habits from your childhood dictate the future for your family.

Thriving

Learn how to improve your physical and mental health in natural ways that see you as a whole living system.

Be a positive role model for your children.

Move on from ‘surviving’, ‘coping’ or simply ‘getting by’.

Cast off the fear of trying new things.

Learn to truly thrive even when life has given you a bumpy ride.

Abundant

Discover a new world of regenerative ways of living – millions of people are already living in ways that learn from nature, increasing the abundance of our world.

Show your children there is another way.

Step away from the feelings of being ‘out of place’, of not having found your tribe.

Leave behind the fear for the world and the feelings of paralysis of not knowing how or what to change.

Come with us on a journey along three inter-connected paths:

Deeply connect with nature

You can only truly understand nature's wisdom when you can see yourself as part of the living world.

The Western industrial mindset sees humans as superior – are you ready to leave that behind and make the shift into belonging and connection?

Are you open to discovering the joy, calm and abundance for body and mind that nature-connection brings?

Learn from nature’s wisdom

Nature has been offering a model of success for hundreds of millions of years – we guide you to discover the natural principles that all living beings share.

These are the secrets to success for growth, health, wellbeing, resilience, connection, relationships, purpose, success, belonging and creating a positive future.

Are you open to being an apprentice of natural systems? Embedding nature’s wisdom into your own life and the world around you?

Take action

A change in mindset is a huge first step but you’re not there yet – keep going…

Discover how to take action to make the transformation that you want to see. We know that can be scary, so we offer natural principles, a design cycle, tools and support to help you to make those all-important changes and embed them in your life.

Are you ready to take action and make a difference?

And of course once you’ve learned the skills, they are yours to use again and again – forever, for free!

We’d love to be your guide on your nature-inspired journey

We will be:

Your INTERPRETERs – translating the complexities of the living world into seeds that you can grow along the way

Your SHERPAs – relieving you of the excess baggage that is holding you back

Your CARTOGRAPHERs – helping you to a map your ideal destination and offering simple guides so you get there in easy-to-manage stages

Your COMPANIONs – every every tree is unique and every journey is unique, , but everyone who is on a nature-inspired journey can support each other, recognising that we are all connected.

Your CHAMPIONs – offering encouragement and celebrating your successes and failures.

Taking a nature-inspired approach involved taking a leap of faith, embracing the change and complexity that life offers.

Think like a Tree group programme

Design your life with nature as your guide

3 formats to choose from:

– Online (zoom) over 6 weeks (2.5 hour sessions plus self-study);

– In-person (beautiful woodland locations) over 6 weeks (2.5 hour sessions plus self-study)

– 3 day intensive programme (beautiful woodland locations)

We associate woodlands, forests and other natural ecosystems with resilience, longevity and harmony, but often struggle to experience these in our own lives.

By exploring principles derived from nature, this programme will guide you step-by-step through a design cycle that can be used for a wide range of personal circumstances – relationships, health, wellbeing, leisure and work.

The programme:

  • You will work in groups and individually to explore the three elements of the course:
  • the natural principles and nature’s patterns – learned from observing nature
  • the 12 phase design cycle – allow us to put the principles into action
  • the tools – give us the means to get where we want to be

Here is just some of what we will cover:

  • What makes natural systems resilient, healthy and able to adapt to change? Which characteristics would we like to incorporate into our own lives?
  • Why we are all designers of our own lives, even if we don’t realise it yet…
  • The twelve stage personal design cycle
  • Designing for your own individual circumstances such as health, wellbeing, mental health, personal relationships, loss, work, leisure, lifestyle, coping with change,
    communities and groups, and supporting others.
  • How to re-examine existing patterns of belief and action
  • How to have more effective relationships
  • Resilience- how to cope with life’s challenges

 

We will use a wide range of tools taken from a range of disciplines – everything from psychology, personal development and design, to permaculture, biomimicry, systems-thinking and biology!  And we will explore how you can develop and evaluate your own tools so they work for you.

In each session we will work, step by step through a twelve stage design cycle, so that your design builds up in manageable chunks. We explore 1 – 3 phases of the design cycle each week.

Is this course right for me?

You may want to make a significant change, some small improvements, or just want to be more content or effective in your everyday life.  Whatever your circumstances this course has something to offer.

The course has been designed to be appropriate for absolutely everyone’s circumstances and stage of life – whether you are starting out on life’s journey, switching direction, dealing with a challenge, or planning your future.

Come prepared to think, being open to seeing yourself and the natural world in a different light, and to challenge existing beliefs…

How much time do I need to commit?

The programme comprises fifteen hours of group sessions plus activities to do at home.  

During the programme you will build up a design that is personal to you.  All course materials are provided and you will go away with a toolkit of tools and principles that can be used again and again.

You should aim to commit an additional 8 to 12 hours at home, but that is up to you – but I can guarantee that once you start thinking, you won’t want to stop.

Beautiful and inspiring locations (or online – you choose)

In-person courses take place in a range of different locations, but all situated within or near woodlands.

Each session we spend some time outdoors to ensure that you are able to gain the maximum advantage from learning from the woodlands themselves.  We will experience nature and the weather in all its diversity.  Often our learning from the bad weather in our lives is more useful than the experiences of sunny days.  So please come prepared with appropriate footwear and clothing.

For online courses we encourage you to spend as much time as you can outdoors between sessions.

What can I expect?

Be prepared to think differently about yourself and the natural world, be challenged in your existing beliefs, and be open to learn from others.   Our most productive space is often just outside our comfort zone, but the environment is a supportive one.  Practical exercises bring the principles to life, and laughter helps the learning too…

Home study

At the end of each session there will be personal exercises and fun tasks to undertake at home. This will support you to complete a design that is personal to you – either by the end of the course, or afterwards, depending on the pace you choose.

Outdoor time

We have a break during each online session where we invite you to head outdoors and complete a short activity.  Many of the home study activities involve connecting with nature outdoors too.

Learning and teaching style:

The course uses a wide variety of methods including discussion, group work, observation, visioning, and individual study, all designed to accelerate learning. These ensure that everyone each of us, with our own unique learning styles, are supported. Everyone will have valuable skills, learning and experience to bring to the group and by working together we can explore the issues in theory and practice.
As a group we share our knowledge with each other and have fun too.

Safe space:

The course is applicable to a wide range of personal circumstances that
participants may have concerns about sharing in a group setting. We therefore ensure the following:

– That no-one will be required to share beyond what feels comfortable
– That confidentiality is agreed amongst all participants
– That personal designs can be worked on at home
– That we have fun and laugh a lot!

Additional Support:

During and following the course, additional support is available if you feel you would like it. The cost is £125 for a one hour session or £400 for a block of four. Sessions are available in person or via Zoom.  This is totally optional as we aim to give you all the tools you need during the course. 

Tried and tested programme:

The Think like a Tree programme was established in 2017 and participants have used it to design a new way of living and thriving with a wide range of circumstances.  Here are just a few. The focus of designs  have included: designing a new wellbeing business; overcoming hoarding;  supporting a teenager with mental ill-health; boosting confidence; overcoming bullying; finding a new direction; living with a chronic illness; planning for retirement; having an eco-friendly family life; improving work-life balance; supporting a child with autism; overcoming anxiety; improving a relationship with a partner; planning a new life after divorce; being a more effective campaigner. Everyone is unique so every design is unique!

Check out some of the tesimonials below.

Think like a Tree 1 to 1 programme

Why take a design approach?

If you’ve ever had a garden, you’ll know that it can be tricky to get the balance right.  We’ve all done it – you head to the garden centre, buy a plant, pop it in and then see how it goes. You’ve not considered the soil conditions (who bothers to read the labels?) or the existing plants, or the overall colour scheme. So at worst your expensive new plant flops and dies, and at best your garden lacks the wow factor of the gardens you see at Chelsea Flower Show (or even the garden of your neighbour who took that garden design course). And worst of all you beat yourself up for wasting the money, letting the plant die and still not having the garden you wanted.

That’s how most people approach their lives too. You decide you want to make a change so you try something new, like a new routine, diet or exercise regime, but because you haven’t looked at yourself as a whole system (within bigger systems), then ad hoc changes don’t endure, and you end up in a cycle of self-blame without long-lasting benefits. You also feel pulled in the wrong direction by systems that you are told are supposed to make life easier but somehow make yours more complicated and anxiety-provoking. Even thinking about making the big changes, such as change of career, promotion or establishing a new business can be paralysing because of the lessons learned from your previous so-called ‘failures’.

For your garden problems you can make a call to a garden designer (better still a permaculture designer). They’ve been trained to look at the big picture such as the soil and weather conditions, and they ask you the crucial questions like ‘what functions do you want your garden to serve?’. Do you want it for beauty, an outdoor dining space, growing food or family space? Only when they’ve surveyed the site; researched the conditions; looked at what resources you have available and found out what your vision is, will they put pen to paper and start making suggestions. You, and they, avoid costly mistakes and together you design a beautiful garden, which your neighbour is immediately jealous of.

It’s very similar for the Think like a Tree 1 to 1 programme.  We work step by step through a twelve-phase design cycle, which is inspired by natural systems, supporting you to design your life in a holistic way. We look at the big picture first (like your core values, what’s important to you) then help you fill in all the glorious details. So when you wake up in the morning, you’ll love what you see, what you do, and most importantly who you are.

You’ll be happy with the roses in your life, and better equipped to accept the thorns too.

The programme is packed with tools for you to use again and again and you will build up a design during the programme that will be yours to refer to (and add to) over time.

The foundations of the course are the Natural Principles – nature’s secrets to success, and these are yours to keep in the form of the book Think like a Tree: the natural principles guide to life by Sarah Spencer, as well as the many tools and resources we use throughout the course.

You can complete the programme in-person (see venue options below) or via Zoom (or hybrid). When in-person we’ll meet in beautiful natural surroundings. Even when you choose the Zoom option, you’ll be encouraged into nature to learn directly, benefitting your health, mental health and accelerating your transformation.

Included in the programme:

  • 12 hours of 1 to 1 time over a 3 month period
  • Programme materials
  • Activities to complete at home, targeted to your particular circumstances (1 – 2 hours per session)
  • Extensive resources and further reading
  • Copy of Think like a Tree: the natural principles guide to life by Sarah Spencer
  • Email support during the programme, answering any queries you may have
  • Design consultancy and follow-up – talking through your design and making suggestions

The 12 phases of the design cycle

We always start with Observation. You’ll look in-depth at your current conditions (health, wellbeing, relationships, energy, time, work, leisure etc) looking for patterns and signs.

Only then do we move on to your Vision. You can design any aspect of your life. For parents on the 1 to 1 programme designs could focus on:

  • how to support a child who has additional needs;
  • improving family relationships;
  • exploring how your own upbringing is affecting your current family
  • making a life-change (such a house move or livelihood change) to benefit your family
  • thriving with a chronic illness, balancing family and health

Phase 3 is Helps – we examine the resources you have (of all types, not just money) and learn to look at ‘wealth’ in a mindset of abundance rather than scarcity. We explore the wide range of talents you have, many of which perhaps you have never showcased to the world.

Then we look at Limits – this has two elements. Firstly, we look at how you might be getting in your own way – the mindset blocks. We also explore practical issues, such as limits in time, money, resources etc, and how to overcome them. Secondly, we look at which limits you have to learn to accept, such as long-term health issues. Once we accept such major issues and stop fighting them, then life becomes a lot easier (and of course we explore how to tell the difference between the two types of limits).

Ideas and inspiration – we take a leaf out of nature’s book and adopt a highly creative approach – there are initially no limits to our ideas and we explore problems and issues from multiple perspectives. 

Only then do we examine Choices and Decisions, with a variety of decision-making tools to allow you to make the best choices for you and your circumstances. Narrowing down, as well as exploring nature-inspired ideas such as valuing diversity and attitudes to perfection.

Design and Plan is down to the nitty gritty – now that you’ve made the decisions, how are you going to bring them into the world? We explore different techniques that are right for you and your particular planning style. We look at how nature approaches efficiency and designs for resilience.

Action is the phase where we explore how you are going to get going – examining issues such as procrastination.  Energy and time management are big issues here – nature has so many lessons for us, one of which is ‘manage your energy not your time’.

Momentum and Tweaking – we help you ensure that your actions will endure with techniques for keeping going and action learning.  We will explore resilience and how you can become more able to thrive with change, challenges and setbacks. You’ll be encouraged to ‘Use your Edge’ (edges are nature’s most creative spaces), getting out of your comfort zone and creatively responding to change.

Because nature is always growing, learning and adapting the next phase is Evaluation and Reflection. Learning from the way nature uses feedback you’ll learn how to evaluate your progress and how to give, seek and accept feedback in ways that avoid anxiety. We’ll also share tools such as compassionate communication to help ensure your needs are met, whilst maximising the change of the needs of others being met too.

Celebration and Appreciation comes next. You’ll learn self-care and self-compassion tools. We’ll throw a failure party together! ‘Failures’ show that we are getting out there and we have to reward ourselves for showing up.

Finally, it’s Pause. We’ll explore what nature can teach you about the benefits of pausing and examine your barriers to pausing, such as labelling, ‘busyness’, stress, anxiety, perfectionism etc. Nature shows us that Pause is productive, and we humans need it too.

Throughout the 1:1 programme there will be exercises, tasks and home study.

You’ll build up your design and write it up in the way that’s right for you. This can be the form of: words, spreadsheet, art, design – you choose!

As you can see, we will look at you and the focus of your design in a whole-systems way, exploring the practical and personal, internal and external.  This way you are certain to design to succeed.

Facilitators for the 1 to 1 programme

Sarah Spencer and JK McCreight

Both Sarah and JK have extensive experience facilitating people (individuals and groups) through change.

Sarah Spencer (south Derbyshire, and online)

Sarah has three adult children and has experienced the highs and lows of parenthood. In 2013 the family bought a smallholding in Derbyshire with the aim of raising the children in an outdoor environment and they grew up surrounded by nature. The family have lived through Sarah’s chronic illness, which, she believes contributed to the children being independent, confident adults with a diversity of skills., but wasn’t without its challenges. She believes the secret has been to always be open about the difficulties, but have firm boundaries so the children have guidance and something to aim for. Now they are adults they say things like ‘now I know why you did the things you did’. Being a parent you never quite know if you’re on the right track but having a guiding framework (like nature) really does help.

Sub-specialisms:

  • Start-ups and small businesses
  • Solopreneur businesses
  • Community social enterprises
  • Co-operatives
  • Volunteer organisations
  • Charities
  • Thriving with chronic illness
  • Supporting children

My notable personal designs:

  • Overcoming my chronic illness (my first ‘people-based’ design), which allowed me to design my way from bed/wheelchair to health.
  • My new livelihood.  This design in 2016 lead to developing Think like a Tree
  • Think like a Tree programme
  • Think like a Tree book
  • Facilitator network – designing how to grow Think like a Tree as a mycelial network
  • Whistlewood Common community benefit society. Permaculture design for the organisation
  • Notable land-based permaculture designs: Whistlewood Common site design (10 acre community woodland); St Brides smallholding (9 acre site); Melbourne School food forest.

Read Sarah’s bio here

JK McCreight (Leeds, Yorkshire areas and online)

Sub specialisms:

  • Leadership coaching
  • Workplace wellbeing
  • Career coaching
  • Start-ups and small business owners
  • Solopreneur business owners
  • Anxiety and stress, imposter syndrome
  • Self-esteem and confidence

Notable personal designs:

  • Personal physical health and wellbeing
  • Design for ‘Where the Mind Grows’

If you would like to discuss the Think like a Tree 1 to 1 programme, please book your free 30 minute discovery call.

(We are sorry we cannot offer a free discovery call for the Think like a Tree group programme. This allows us to keep prices low.  But if you would like to book a paid coaching session with Sarah or JK to discuss your potential group programme design then please get in touch. The cost is £125 for one hour). Or ping us an email and we’ll happily respond for free.

Testimonials

In-person Courses

Online Courses

1 to 1 Programme

"Plants seeds of happiness, hope, success and love; it will all come back to you in abundance. That is the law of nature"

Steve Maraboli