Tuesday 5 November 2013

Living life outdoors

All parents know there is a problem nowadays, kids want to stay indoors and play with their computer games or watch TV or generally just chill-lax (such a funny word!) and whilst all those things are fine in moderation, it means a whole generation of kids are missing out on the fun and wonder of getting outdoors and exploring our natural world.

Naturalist, author and TV producer Stephen Moss pulls on years of academic research and surveys in his Natural Childhood report, he highlights how a generation of children are losing touch with the natural world and this is really sad. His report outlines a clear need to tackle the rise of ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’, a term coined by the US based writer Richard Louv, to describe a growing dislocation between children and nature.

I thank the Lord that my husband has been a scout leader for as long as the kids have been alive. This means that all three of our children are happy to get their wellies on and get muddy. In fact they would all cite camping as the ultimate in great family times and for a southern softie I'm pretty tough and all-weather too and we have had many a trip to the play park in the pouring rain or nature walks along a boggy path.

Out last week in the pouring rain

Of course since moving to the countryside three months ago it has become even easier for us to get out and enjoy nature and the great outdoors, but the weather is on the change and that is when the challenges will come. Yes we headed out in torrential rain last weekend and had some fun conker collecting but how often will we want to keep doing that? Very often I hope.

My best memories this summer have definitely been those created whilst we were outdoors -
  • Lying in our private garden with Miss M and watching all the beautiful coloured dragon flies over our heads
  • Taking my lakeside morning walk each day and watching the scenery change
  • Blackberry picking with Miss E
  • Basketball with JJ and some great friends
  • Discovering the fungi and nooks and crannies of our estate as the girls and I go exploring the woods yet again
  • Getting charged at by a stag in Richmond Park (yes really!)
Let me share with you some scary statistics from the National Trust -
  • Fewer than ten per cent of kids play in wild places; down from 50 per cent a generation ago
  • The roaming radius for kids has declined by 90 per cent in one generation (thirty years)
  • Three times as many children are taken to hospital each year after falling out of bed, as from falling out of trees
  • A 2008 study showed that half of all kids had been stopped from climbing trees, 20 per cent had been banned from playing conkers or games of tag
Go back 6 months ago and this little lady would never have dreamed of climbing a tree,
but now - just look at the joy on her face!

OK, I get why some parents are scared to let their kids climb trees but stop them from playing conquers and tag, that really does reek of wrapping their children up in cotton wool. We surely all know that we need to allow our children to grow and learn and just provide some boundaries and safety nets for them. Accidents will happen of course, Miss M has her arm in a cast right now, but I pray she will learn from it.

I do everything I can to encourage the children to keep going outside and to enjoy nature and our natural world. Not only is it educational, it is great for their fitness and it is fabulous fun too. Feel free to share with me any tips you have for getting outdoors in the not so great weather.

Disclosure: I am writing this post on behalf of Blacks.co.uk, suppliers of great outdoor wear products. JJ is the happy recipient of some new hiking boots to keep him snug over the winter months.
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