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.

  1. Laura
    Laura11-15-2011

    it is so important for kids to get to play out. Even in such safe communities parents rarely let their kids out to play. Yet, think back to your childhood, what are your childhood memories where you learnt about yourself, your world? Was that indoors carefully doing parent led activities or are your best memories of outdoor freedom, without limitations bar imagination and physics and tea time of course! It is brilliant that your kids can have this freedom and it is something to be encouraged :-) x

  2. Rose
    Rose11-15-2011

    Glad you feel that way about your estate. I think it very much depends on what kind fo estate you’re on. The last we lived on was lovely though our place was a maisonette with no garden up two flights of stairs, along babies one and two so we moved very rushedly (is that even a word?) into a house with an enormous garden and some open plan living council style (i.e bodge job) Thats the last time I make decisions when I still have birthing hormones rushing round my being! Anyway, the estate isn’t all that it turns out, whislt our neighbours are fine the families with kids really aren’t the type I want my kkids mixing with – the young kids swear and intimidate even passing adults. Sounds like you have a good middleground and secretly I long for that same countryside place you described in the first instance!
    Much love X

  3. Dreamingaloudnet
    Dreamingaloudnet11-17-2011

    Ah, Rose, we are lucky that our house is in a smallish village and is very “middle class” no rough hoodies here – it is a good middle ground… though my choice would still be the secluded few acres if I had my magic wand.

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