Kids need air…even little London ones.

Here’s a little known fact about me. I grew up in a little town just outside Cologne in Germany. This was in the 70s, when everyone just used to chuck their kids out on the streets without a care in the world. My childhood pretty much consisted of running around the streets of our neighbourhood with my  pals, going in and out of each other’s houses (playdates without the formality), getting dirty in playgrounds trying to outsmart the boys, and running through the beautifully lush cornfields that surrounded our little town, and that are so typical of that part of Germany. It was pretty idyllic really, and it’s a part of my childhood that I really treasure. It always makes me laugh when the Brits refer to the Germans as being uptight. Nothing could be further from the truth. Cologne and the Rheinland is renowned for it’s relaxed, easy-going vibe, and that pretty much also sums up my life at that point.

We moved to the UK in 1980, and I have consquently spent most of my formative years here, although there is a part of of me, even 30 years later, that is still very German. (It’s amazing how formative those early years can be). I’m still completely out of sync with the ways of the Brits in many ways, and am a stickler for punctuality and order (of sorts!).

Having such an outdoorsy life has always made me very conscious of taking my kids outdoors as much as possible. We live in such different times, with kids having to be told about stranger danger at such a young age, especially in London, and everyone too scared to leave their kids out of their sight for more than a split second. Living in a leafy suburb and having a decent size garden, I do still tend to chuck my kids out into our garden whenever I can. Kids need air/oxygen to grow and thrive. Not just for their physical development but for their mental wellbeing. It makes me sad to see how many children, especially in London, just seem to get ferried around nowadays from school,to after-school club to home without a whiff of fresh air in sight, even in the gorgeous spring we are finally having at the moment. I used to let my younger son sleep in his pram outside in our back garden, and received a surprising number of raised eyebrows about something that was the norm 20 years ago. As any mum will know, there is nothing (bar ‘Calpol’) that knocks a tired baby out faster than a whiff of fresh air!

There’s nothing that I love more than to hear my kids playing in our garden. It’s one of the reasons we moved here, and yet it amazes me when I see other neighbours’ children not doing the same. I honestly don’t believe a child can thrive unless you let them out, and let them scream and laugh and take great big lungs full of air. Yes I know this is London, but seriously, even a few breaths of polluted air will do them good! And what’s even better is it takes the onus off you to keep your little darlings entertained, even it is just for a few precious seconds!


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