A Community … for Kids

I have always hated the idea of living on a housing estate. Too many neighbours, too close for comfort, identikit houses, and not our sort of people. No siree, not for me. And certainly not for my kids. They need a vast lawn. And a wood and meadows to run wild in. Perhaps a pony! Certainly an acre of organic veggie garden. And mama needs her own private glade for naked moonlight dancing and other mad notions!

But reality and finances mean that in order to live where we want to live, we needed to live on an estate.

And you know what?

I am so glad we do.

If only for one reason (though in reality there are many!). It is perfect for the kids. We live at the end of a loop-the-loop cul-de-sac, and so our children have a veritable runway of tarmac all to themselves, with a massive patch of grass besides.

So, rather than me driving here, there and everywhere arranging play dates and after school activities, they head out the back door and there they have friends. A pack of them to run about with. They range from 18 months to 10 and all take part according to their ability. They play on bikes and trikes, skate boards and push along tractors.  They play catch, draw in chalk on the pavement, collect caterpillar and grasshoppers, create elaborate mausoleums for deceased rodents which could rival the Taj Mahal and invent endless espionage games which usually end in tears. There is a lot of water play too, which always seems to take place in our garden – it seems that mud, gravel, stones and a hose can provide hours of illicit fun!

I feel so good knowing that they are out there creating their own little community of neighbours, another generation of connections being made. But where we mums and dads make it over cups of coffee and borrowed sugar, they make theirs over ice lollies and worms.

If you are interested in making this happen in your own neighbourhood, I have just discovered a new initiative www.playingout.net which aims to promote and support kids playing outside together, helping communities to create safe spaces within their neighbourhoods for free play. Do check out this innovative website – even if just to revel in the pavement painting design. Let’s help to get our children playing outside together.

And check out the winter edition of JUNO magazine for an interview with Tim Gill about supporting children and outside play.

This post has been written as a contribution to The Big Lunch blog. The Big Lunch is an annual community event held in early June each year  in the UK and Ireland where communities come together to eat and celebrate.