This used to be what happened when we took our youngest to the beach. It was like a magic injection of calm. This energetic whirlwind would just melt into a relaxed serenity that never happened in the house.
It didn’t have to be the beach. Any outdoors would do. And it had to be for a decent length of time. Then the journeys home would seem as if with another person than the one we took out.
I used to wonder how others managed.
Where we lived at the time we could open the cottage door onto an area of grass in front, safely enclosed by hedge and gate, and she would shoot out across it like an arrow from a bow. You could see it was just something she inherently needed. And I used to wonder how families, all cooped up in concrete places managed with an energetic child, managed to satisfy that need in their children to be out, active and uncontrolled for a while.
Because it is a need; a requirement for the healthy development of mind and body. But quite often this is disregarded. It is masked by keeping kids passive and dormant in front of technological entertainment. Then correcting their frustrated combustible behaviour with drugs or leaving it for the teachers.
Wet playtimes can be a teachers’ curse. When the kids haven’t been outside it’s a recipe for a tricky afternoon. But after summer playtimes, especially when they have the opportunity to be on grass, you’d see kids lolling about and they’d come in happy and relaxed, with a shine in their eyes, and cooperation and goodwill in their spirits.
We must find ways in our shuttered, concrete, technological lives to give children long, free, times in the opposite. They don’t necessarily need an organised activity, they just need to be out there. Take warm things if need be or a big umbrella and rugs to make a camp, let them take personal items or toys. Or nothing at all and just rely on imagination. Ours could make whole soap operas with bits of stone and twigs in a city park.
One thing that is important to take is the time.
And make forays into open spaces an important part of your family’s timetable – yep – parents have to do it too, and willingly! Until you begin to unwind. And demonstrate how you can discharge the stress from closed in lives by spending hours in the open.
It’s a far better remedy than drugs!