How outdoorsy is your little’un?
Reading through this 50 things to do before your 12 list, two things occurred to me.
The first is how much I enjoy doing some of these things myself, let alone Jack doing them as well. Secondly though, it made me think about all the simple pleasures in life some kids just don’t get the opportunity to experience.
Of course, wild swimming, rafting and abseiling require quite a specific commitment on the part of parents, and I can understand why plenty of under-12s miss out on these opportunities.
The kinds of things I have in mind are the simple, fun things kids of toddler age can enjoy but may not get the chance to do. Flying a kite, playing conkers and setting up a snail race are just some of the activities that spring to mind.
Jack is pretty fortunate in many respects. We live in a house with a sizeable garden and a generous variety of wildlife (we even seem to have a regular hedgehog visitor!). He also lives fairly close to a field with a sizeable slope for both hill rolling and sledging (when it snows) both of which appear on this National Trust list.
He also has two (reasonably) laid back parents, who not only enjoy the outdoors, but also encourage him to get himself dirty and generally explore the outside world and all it has to offer.
However, reading through this list made me painfully aware of just how few opportunities some children might have to do these things. For some kids, it will be a lack of opportunity because of where they live. Granted, every major city has parks and spaces where playing in the rain and hunting for bugs is as easy as in your own back garden.
But realistically, opportunities to do this can be limited by the time parents have to do this stuff, but also by a lack of places to do it. For example, getting a bird to feed from your hand is probably not advisable when the only birds you can find happen to be pigeons. Similarly, you can’t hunt for treasure on a beach or will at least find burying someone in the sand a challenge if you don’t happen to live near, or visit, the sea.
Worse than this though, are children who have the opportunity, but whose parents lack the inclination or willingness to let their children do these things.
I know they’re a rare breed, but even among my limited circle of parent friends, there are a good number who discourage their children from certain types of outdoorsy activity, for fear of mud, germs, or general wellbeing.
Have you checked out this list? Is there anything on it you’d feel uncomfortable letting your child do, age permitting?