With today’s kids having so much access to and such a love for technology, we have to work really hard to counteract that by making sure that they have plenty of time outdoors, and learn about the world not only from YouTube unwrapping videos and Shimmer and Shine, but also from exploring it themselves.
It concerns me more and more as Ava gets older how little time she spends just playing outside compared to how much we used to, and how much she watches television.
When I was little I played out on the street with friends and family all the time, and had so much fun, but that just doesn’t happen so much anymore. Of course safety is a concern, but that shouldn’t stop us or our children from getting outside as much as possible. I think I was pretty lucky as a child, as my aunty, uncle and cousins had amazing woods by their house so we used to spend a lot of time in our wellies playing with sticks, getting covered in mud and spotting all the wildlife together. I look back on those times with the fondest of memories, and I miss it even now. It was absolutely brilliant as a child to have that.
I also remember constantly making dens with my sister and step-sisters, as well as camping out in the garden for the night in a tent. We used to have such a brilliant time outdoors playing for hours, and it makes me sad that today’s kids (including mine) don’t tend to do that. I really want and need to try harder to get Ava outdoors more, whatever the weather and explore this amazing world together.
The RSPB Big Wild Sleepout!
So I love that the RSPB are encouraging families and children to reconnect with nature with the Big Wild Sleepout that is happening in a couple of weeks time. Spending the evening outdoors, in a safe and familiar environment can create magical memories for little ones, and can be their first exciting encounter with nocturnal wildlife, like owls, moths, and bats. The RSPB Big Wild Sleepout is on over the weekend of 29th-31st of July, and if you don’t have a garden yourself then you can join in at lots of RSPB sites around the country.
I think it’s a wonderful idea to switch off the tv for an evening, have fun (possibly failing to) put up a tent, grab a load of blankets, and a magnifying glass and spend at least the evening enjoying the outdoors together as a family. Or even better sleep in a tent and enjoy waking up to the birds tweeting around you. Kids will love it so much, I know I used to, and I can’t wait to do it with Ava soon.
You and your family can join in the fun by signing up on the website and commit to sleeping out on the weekend of 29th-31st July. If you sign up you will get a free pack on the post, with some great accessories for your night under the stars, including some very cool glow-in-the-dark bunting that your kids will love!
You can sign up for your fun pack here: The Big Wild Sleepout Free Pack.
We’re going to grab a load of blankets and cushions, make a den – and then campout in our garden one evening. Ava is so excited and I’ve been loving hearing her talk about what we will do and what creatures we can look for. She has her minibeast viewer all ready, and she can’t wait to use the brilliant telescope she has very kindly been sent (I can’t wait either!).
The RSPB carried out a three-year research project on nature and children – the findings show that currently only 21% of 8–12 year olds in the UK have a level of connection to nature that the RSPB considers to be a realistic and achievable target for all children. The RSPB believe that everyone has a role to play in putting nature back into childhood – including governments, local authorities, schools, families as well as organisations like themselves.
I know that Ava’s nursery has been brilliant at letting them spend loads of time outdoors, whatever the weather (the muddy clothes she comes home in proves that!), and teaching them all about wildlife and the outdoors. They have made dens in trees and collected twigs to make things with later. A always talks so animatedly about what they have done, and it’s a big source of enjoyment for her.
I’m ashamed to say that I have never really done stuff like that with her, so I am really pleased to be a part of this campaign with the RSPB to help encourage people to get outdoors with their families and reconnect with nature – it’s something I need to make the effort to do myself – I don’t want Ava to miss out on those wonderful memories that I have of my childhood and having the freedom to explore the world outside.
Kids’ being connected to nature actually has positive effects on their education, physical health, emotional wellbeing, and personal and social skills, and helps them to become responsible citizens. Not being connected to nature on the other hand can have detrimental effects, including lower achievement at school, poorer mental and physical health, and under-developed social skills. I had only really ever thought about it in terms of enjoyment and learning, so it’s really interesting to hear quite how important our children being involved with nature really is.
“The RSPB is committed to connecting young people with nature and empowering them to protect the natural world, now and in the future.”
The lovely president of the RSPB has made this short video about the Big Wild Sleepout, and explains the ethos behind it and ideas for taking part.
It’s such an easy thing to get involved in and to help your kids connect with nature and discover how wonderful it is to spend time outside, learning about wildlife.
Don’t forget to sign up to your free pack here.
I am working with the RSPB on this campaign to encourage families to reconnect with nature, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.