Spring crept up on us all and decided to appear last weekend for Oxfordshire Goes Wild at the Earth Trust. Many lay around soaking up the sunshine while their offspring had fun making an eclectic collection of mini beasts out of clay and sticks! Here are a few of their amazing creations.
One of my best memories of childhood was the wonderful feeling I got at the beginning of the school holidays. The prospect of weeks of endless long lazy days spreading ahead with absolutely nothing to do! The excitement of the un-known, of where the natural world would take me and what adventures were out there just waiting to be had. It is a feeling I have never forgotten and a gift I have tried to give my own children. It is also one of the main reasons I starting writing our series of books with Fiona to encourage more children to get outside and have fun.
But sadly in this modern age few children get to experience this feeling, the hours of fun had exploring outdoors, nature, of big open and un-spoilt places; the euphoric feeling of freedom! Let’s face it few of us have endless free time to spare, or live in an idyllic places where there is no traffic and are prepared to let the children run wild. Time has a habit of whizzing by being filled up with work commitments and organized activities and unless we actually make a conscious effort to get out with our children, to slow things down, go with the flow and let things happen; opportunities for making those childhood memories will have passed.
But it may be news to you that actually it isn’t that hard to give them at least a little taste of the magic I experienced as a child. The key is to find a safe environment and under your watchful eye, leave them to their own devices. Now this doesn’t have to be somewhere far away, up a mountain, or in the depth of the countryside. Your garden or local park can feel big and wild to a small child. It is the freedom that children need, the freedom to play, to be in control (or at least feel they are), to make their own choices and judge risks for themselves.
Holidays are very precious and time even more so. To guarantee success many parents fear they need to plan, go somewhere different everyday and pack exciting entertainment into their “quality time”. But it may surprise many that these fears are very often unfounded. Given the gift of freedom, and the chance to roam safely, many children will not be bored for long. The outdoors will quickly weave it’s magic on them and in no time children will be entertaining themselves, making dens, concocting mud pies, collecting sticks and experiencing that magic of freedom I so enjoyed as a child. And it’s good for the Parents too, they can just relax. No time deadlines, no transport issues, no mess to clear up in-doors, and the best bit is nature is totally free. The only downside perhaps is the washing machine may need to work overtime!
And what about the weather I hear you cry? This is the UK, the odds are the rain will stop play and everyone ends up indoors in front of a screen so you might as well not bother. My answer to this is that part of the adventure is to experience all weathers. Many of the most fun times we have had outdoors as a family have been in rather extreme weather! If you don’t believe me try it out, put a copy of our new book in your pocket and set out for an adventure. “The Wild Weather book” is packed full of things you stand to miss out on if you stay indoors when it is raining, windy or freezing cold! Make your own kite, race homemade boats, or simply have fun puddle jumping. As long as you dress for the weather and have a lovely warm place to return to, you won’t regret it, memories like these are priceless.
The Wild Weather book was published by Frances Lincoln this March. Just in time for Easter fun! http://www.franceslincoln.co.uk/en/C/0/Book/5059/The_Wild_Weather_Book.html
Come along to our launch at Camley Street Nature Park, Kings Cross, London this Sunday 11.00 – 3.00pm. Lots of wild weather activities and free entry, or better still forget coming and let the kids run wild instead!
It’s time to talk! Take a look at this clip of a talk given at TED (promoting “ideas worth spreading”) in March 2012 by Sherry Turkle, psychologist, professor at MIT and author of “Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology And Less From Each Other.”
She is so right, without realising it we all are letting the technology world effect our behaviour and worse still we are allowing our children to be completely plugged in so they will loose what is vital to us all; the ability to understand what makes us human and how we are truly connected to the natural world we live in. In this clip Sherry powerfully shows us how we have become hooked without realising it and what the first steps we can do to control it rather than it control us.
The first step we would recommend is leave your phone behind, gather up your children and walk out the door for an exciting natural world adventure…. today, not tomorrow!