Where will the children play?

How do you make it safe for kids playing out who live alongside roads? Here are a few tried and tested methods… For more ideas about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children see https://homemadekids.wordpress.com, or my book Homemade Kids, www.nicolabaird.com

Brand new adventure park for kids.

Brand new adventure park for kids.

Where will the children play – when it stops raining in the UK?

Just been researching people who live in Islington (for my other blog – weekly interviews from this neighbourhood) and discovered that Cat Stevens was based here at some point. Pre kids I had a big phase listening to his song Where do the children play (live)? You can listen to him sing it here.

The summer changes my neighbourhood – walking around sunny streets you meet loads of familiar faces, many of whom happily greet you or the kids (there are 700 at my daughters’ school for starters). But most of the year there are far fewer hellos echoing across the pavements. It’s partly the weather, but also because people drive, and because Londoners are always in a hurry. (Though I’m sure every mum is always in a hurry).


At least we don’t have to worry about croc attacks in the UK when our kids play out.

There are parks for the kids and all sorts of activities, including this new – utterly amazing – adventure playground built on to the slopes of a disused railway line now busy with pedestrians, joggers, dog walkers and cyclists. But what kids don’t have is the opportunity to do stuff for themselves – make dens, cook on bonfires, or even play in a spot where other kids will be lured out. Or if other kids are around, say playing football, lots of families are frightened about them mixing.

Plenty gong on at the street party - a sing song, cello performance, street play for the kids, chat for the adults and food sharing under the shady gazebo.

Plenty going on at the street party – a sing song, cello performance, street play for the kids, chat for the adults and food sharing under the shady gazebo.

Lots of parents find ways around this – they go camping, or have enough green space to turn a washing line into a camping den. They sign up to scouts, brownies or some other activity that values outdoor experience and life skills. But wouldn’t it be great for our kids if they could just kick a football outside their door. Yes in the streets. Or use the middle of the road as a skipping venue or the No Man’s Land marker in a game of tag? For those of you living in a street which is predominantly for parking cars can you see what you can do to enable your kids to come out and play with their friends without being forced indoors?

Here are some examples of how to do this.

Street party (one-off or one day a year, but a great start). See all the tips here – http://www.streetparty.org.uk

Local lobbying – this mum actually got Mrs Thatcher into her living room in 1974, with great success, see here.

Or just ask – try putting notes through your neighbours’ doors (the ones with kids); or go see them. Take your child along, and some fat chalk – that way they can start sketching on the pavements right now! Have a look at the kids playing out groups, see here.

Over to you
What are your top tips for getting other families outside?

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