Thursday, 8 January 2009

Children and Darkness

The streets are quiet here during winter. The children are at school during the day and in the evening they’re all inside, most of them playing on their games consoles or watching TV. It’s such a reversal of what it’s like here during summer, when our street is alive with children riding their bikes and generally messing around, having fun.

But it’s dark, and parents don’t let their kids out in the dark. Or in the cold.

Ok, I can understand that to a degree - they’re worried about their children’s safety in public areas after dark, but the dark and cold themselves won’t hurt them, not as long as they’re dressed properly. But they don’t even play in their gardens. Everything’s quiet.

Children need fresh air and to use their bodies. They need to go outside to do that. They need to kick a ball about, skip, run and jump. They need to climb and they need to discover all the mysteries that lurk under stones and rocks, in the earth, on leaves and in trees. They need to learn about the natural cycle of life and they aren’t doing that through computer games.

All that’s needed is a decent back yard light and some good, warm clothing. Kids are generally pretty resilient and their fear of darkness isn’t something they’re born with, but something we adults teach them.

When I lived in Norway, the children were always out playing in the dark. It was either that or stay inside the whole time because darkness was something that was there when they left for school, was there when they came home and wasn’t going to go away for many months during winter. They wrapped up well, and played for hours.

Is it any wonder that children here in the UK are increasingly suffering from obesity, allergies and other health problems when they’re bodies aren’t getting the exercise needed?

Sharon J x


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Rosesposes said...

Hi Sharon
Just catching up with your posts!, I see you tidies your wardrobe too. Its a liberating experience. The more I declutter & simplify, I find I feel less reliant on material possesions.Do you find that?. I used to buy clothes because I was unhappy ,but I think I thought it made me happy and of course it doesnt. Now I would rather be sensible.
Yes I agree children dont go out enough in winter. My little boy likes to ride his bike up and down the garden and we do like a winter picnic withhot chocolate at the park.
Glad you liked the lightshade for keeping jewellery on, look forward to see your light shade adorned with treasures too XXXDom

Sharon J said...

Yes, I definitely feel less reliant on 'stuff' to make me happy nowadays and have really started to rediscover the little pleasures in life and just how much they mean.

A winter picnic in the park sounds lovely. We used to go to the forest at weekends, build a bonfire in the snow and cook sausages over it. Lovely memories :)

It'll be a while before I have a lightshade to show you - have to wait for the boot markets to get going again first :)

L-Jay said...

This is an interesting discussion. In Australia, when I was young, kids were always outside playing in the yard and cricket in the street - but it seems that was because our parents didn't want us inside the house and didn't feel scared that something might happen to us when playing out.

Nowadays, parents are too scared to let their children play outside without supervision and a lot of parents are too lazy to even go outside to watch their kids - its easier to keep kids inside.

I think most parents are secretly happier that their kids play inside as it means the parnts don't really have to have one eye on their kids all the time. If the kid is sitting down amusing itself with video games then the parent is free to read the paper, watch TV, go on the internet etc themselves.

However, I'm very lucky to live in a place that has a very different ideology ;)

Frugal Trenches said...

And sadly many of those parents are "too busy" to spend time outside with their children - even just 30 minutes playing football or tag or taking them for an evening walk each day would be good for the whole family!

I took my friends little one to the park the other night in the dark - we had a fab time!


My children love it when they come home from school and I tell them to keep their shoes and coats on because it's time to play in the garden. It's a small back yard, but big enough for a game of hide and seek, whether it's light or dark. We've recently installed a playden, which is being customised with a solar powered light and spy holes and there's lots more fun to come. Have you read Toxic Childhood - it's a fab book but reveals how scary the world has become. x

Sharon J said...

@ L-Jay. I think you're probably right about parents not wanting to keep an eye on their kids although I have to say that during summer there are plenty of parents sitting outside the fronts of their houses around here, watching their kids. I guess they find it too cold in winter and that is kind of understandable. I can't see that they'd necessarily need to be outside with them the whole time if they were in the back garden though - most houses have windows looking out that way. Not that I'm saying they shouldn't spend time outside with their kids, but if they don't want to spend hours out there, they don't necessarily have to.

You are indeed lucky to be living where you are and I'm sure you already know how much I envy you. I'm just grateful that I was able to raise my children there as I can see that it's had a positive effect on them :)

@ Frugal Trenches. A family walk would be good, yes. I can't say I see many doing that during winter here though. Even the park is more or less empty of children at this time of year. I bet your friend's little one had a whale of a time - there's always something exciting about being out in the dark I think. The world looks so different then.

@ Almost Mrs Average. I haven't read that book, no, but thanks for letting me know about it because it sounds like something I'd enjoy. And the playden sounds fab :)