Before becoming a parent one of the things I used to resent was standing, freezing my butt off, with other mums in the park, watching their children swing, slide etc, and only having the usual snippets of conversation as the parent tends to falls, friendship upsets, sibling rivalry etc. But, since becoming a parent I have grown to realise how amazingly important parks are for a child’s mental, emotional and, obviously, physical development. And, on top of all that, their social skills and imagination.
As I’m writing I’m sitting in a park watching boisterous boys hurl themselves down slides laughing all the way, a kid in a batman outfit climbing to the save the day, children running, jumping and skipping without a care in the world. What a wonderful opportunity.
The thing that saddens me most these days about park life is us; the parents. There are a few mums chatting but every other parent I can see is sitting on their smartphone. What kind of example does that set our kids? For as long as observations on children’s development have been recorded, children have shown their need to play. What do you think of today when you think of “kids playing”? I bet it’s quite different to what you might have imagined 50 or even just 10 years ago. Why is that? Are we, the parents, denying our kids the right to learn to play? Learning comes through experience. What experiences are we giving our children?
Play comes in a huge variety of forms. Park play is only one type. Yet, here, there are still so many skills learnt; turn-taking, sharing, self-control. There are so many avenues for emotional outlets; physical exertion, breathing, fresh air. So many forms of physical development. And plenty of opportunity for the imagination. Why go conventional?
Parenting requires energy. Boy, I get that. Parenting also zaps energy. Boy, don’t I get that too. But, they’ll only be young once. This is their prime opportunity to learn. I need to take a leaf from my own blog here and find a way of keeping warm, joining in or doing whatever it takes to give Poppi this fundamental right she is entitled to. Play. Park life.