We went for a walk last week at our local National Trust property. We are lucky to have such a large amount of open space so close to home. I had to pre-book the car, but actually it was reassuring to know that it wasn’t going to be packed with visitors, although it was sad to see so many people ignoring the rules and parking on the lanes to gain access. It was a beautiful day to be out in nature, sunny, warm, with a nice breeze, and lovely to be somewhere different after being confined for so long.
I’ve always enjoyed being outdoors. I love being in the woods or on the beach. There is something about nature that soothes me. I think that’s why I got into trail running, the ability to see new places and to have a reason to be outdoors, regardless of the weather.
Our kids have always enjoyed being outdoors too. I’ve always encouraged them to get out and enjoy it, whenever they can. We actually moved the middle two, Katie and Barn to a primary school in the middle of nowhere because I fell in love with the school’s outdoor ethos. There were only 50 or so kids in the school and only about 6 in Katie’s year at the time, so they had a little more freedom than your average school. It was another thing that appealed to me so much about it, it was almost like stepping back in time a little when you went there, to a time when school was a little bit less rigid, and a little less security oriented. The school opened onto a village playing field and they’d been donated acres of woodland on the other side of it. The entire school would be out there more often than not, building dens, climbing trees and making ‘jungle juice’ over open fires that they’d made themselves. They’d always come home filthy but happy. Then there were the times when you couldn’t find your child at the end of the day because two friends had gone for a long walk along the lanes into the country walking the headteacher’s dog and had lost track of time. It was a magical time, not always without injuries, but the children learned how to safely take risks and gained valuable skills for life outside of the classroom. It’s too far to drive my little man now, so I hope I can find somewhere similar for him when the time comes.
There’s a generation of kids out there who didn’t learn how to take risks safely. I saw it through my own eyes working with troubled youngsters in my old job. There are children who don’t understand boundaries because they’ve never had them laid out, and don’t understand the consequences of their actions. There are also the children that grow up too quickly, with too much responsibility or without adequate protection and aren’t able to safely enjoy and explore their childhoods. So many youngsters see the world through screens and games without having to relate to different people in the real world. It’s a skill for life, as you aren’t always going to get on with people you don’t see eye to eye with and the sooner you learn that, the easier it makes the rest of life. I’m not necessarily one for letting the kids play out, near our home, but I love them being outdoors building dens, playing in the water and walking. It’s instilled my love of nature in them and I hope that continues as they get older.
For me freedom outdoors is one of the best lessons we can give our little ones. It can be safe and still fun. I think sometimes it does them a bit of good to have a little bit of measured risk if that makes sense? It helps them grow into well rounded young people. Wellies and waterproofs come in handy in this wet weather, for my little one at least, although due to his puddle jumping yesterday his boots are still full of water! At least he had fun, even if he does create a lot of washing!
Thanks for reading!