When I was a child, playing out was a big part of my life. I played out with my friends in the streets around our house. My sister and I had boundaries and a curfew but we were left to our own devices. We explored, made dens, cut up worms and generally had fun.
Unfortunately, we live in a very different world now. Playing out in the street isn’t the norm. Apart from all of the other dangers, roads are so much busier now. It simply isn’t safe for children to play in the street like we did.
As well as the moving dangers from the road, our streets are often seen as unsafe for unsupervised kids. Barely a week goes by without some horror story of a child being attacked or disappearing. Their childhood innocence taken away in the blink of an eye.
Hubby spent a lot of holidays as a child staying in caravans along the Northumberland coast. He loved exploring and has so many happy memories of his holidays there. So, we’ve been trying to give little Miss similar experiences with caravan holidays.
She’s 4 and a half and has never been a child that has tried to run off when we’re out and about. She’s generally good at holding hands and keeping within sight of us if she wants to run or scoot. When we’re at the caravan, this has been getting harder and harder to control. She can see the other children playing around our caravan and we can see that she’s desperate to join in.
One of the little girls who plays with the group of kids is younger than little Miss. This got us thinking that perhaps we need to relax things a bit. My initial thought is she is way too young to be going out on her own, but seeing the younger girl having so much fun joining in, really made us think. Our caravan is at one corner of a cul-de-sac so we have a good view from inside and the decking of quite a big area.
We started off just letting her run round the outside of the caravan. Hubby said he used to spend hours doing that when he was young. Every time she went out of site for the few seconds to go round the back, my heart was in my mouth. Seeing the look of sheer delight on her face though made me realise I have to get a grip. She was completely safe. And she was having fun playing outside.
Later that day we get braver and let her scoot on her own. We showed her the boundaries of where she could go which was to the end of one street, back to our van and then to the end of the adjoining street. I sat on the decking so I could see one way and hubby sat inside so he could see the other way.
The look on her face as she scooted up and down was priceless. She was so chuffed she was out on her own. It took me a while to relax but I did. She played out for about an hour and absolutely loved it. She said hello to anyone who went passed and sang pretty much the whole of Frozen and Moana at the top of her voice. It was lovely to see her growing in confidence and exploring things on her own.
The other kids were playing out around her and I’m sure it won’t be long before she’s joining in. It takes her a while to be confident enough to join in with people she doesn’t know so we’re hoping this summer at the van will help her with that.
Finding the right balance between protecting your child and being over-protective can be so hard. I’m very protective of little Miss but I know that I’ve got to let her have a bit more feedom. She needs to learn to be street safe and she won’t do that being wrapped in cotton wool. Playing out is such a crucial part of being a child so we need to find a way of letting her do it safely.