Here’s another classic blog post from my Mum. It’s pretty much her just moaning again about how good/bad/different things were in the ‘old days’. Yes, we know life was tough. You didn’t have cute videos of cats on Facebook to cheer you up or mobile phones or even proper nappies.

Disclaimer: my Mum grew up in the 1950s when there were either fewer paedophiles or parents’ were less aware of the dangers of letting their children wander around wherever they liked. In the mid-1990s, my brother and I had a fairly idyllic childhood in a beautiful part of Kent and spent many happy days playing in the local rec, woods and farm, so I can vouch for the benefits of being allowed to get muddy, climb trees and build camps. Hopefully, I will also be able to pass this on to my daughter, as my Mum did for us. And then she can pass it on to her children, although by the time the J has kids there probably won’t be such a thing as outside; it will all be virtual reality and living in metal cubes with robot servants.

“Let them eat dirt”

What is it about parents today that makes them want to protect their offspring from the evils of mud, dirt, sand, the weather and most things natural? As a child growing up, I was allowed to play unaccompanied in the local recreation ground, make camps in the woods, collect worms in a tin and make perfume from flower petals. I expect my mother did make us wash our hands before meals, but I don’t remember doing it!

As one of four kids, we stayed outside in our small garden ’till dusk riding around on our trikes (we only had two between us and only one of them was any good, so much of the day involved fighting over said trike) until called in for a bath. Everything seemed so carefree back then. My Dad made us a sandpit and a rope swing tied to a tree. In the summer, out came a paddling pool and a makeshift slide into it, giving us endless fun.

These days, however, according to my source at the toy shop, sandpit sales have slumped (we bought the J one for her birthday) as Mums just don’t want the mess at home. They would rather pay for an experience in play park or petting zoo, with easy access to antibacterial soaps etc. Organised mess is OK, but not in my back garden.

I used to climb high trees, make things from twigs, collect dead baby birds (yes I did) and take them home because I felt sorry for them. My favourite scooter went everywhere with me, exploring roads I didn’t know existed – we had such freedom. My daughter is horrified at my recollections, but that was what it was like. There was no ‘stranger danger’ back then, just an awareness of any weirdos who needed a wide berth.

But as for getting messy, please let your children explore outside, risk ruining clothes, getting stains that maybe won’t come out. Let them experience knocks and grazes, cuts and splinters and then live to tell the tale.
Childhood is so short these days before pressure is put on them and responsibilities taken up, so PLEASE let them eat dirt before they are too old.

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