When my eldest was finally able to be pushed really high on the swings, and let out high pitched screams of joy that I was sure were secret communication between him and local dogs/practice for communicating with dolphins, he was still having two mega naps a day, and I was heavily pregnant. We were limited to a short lunchtime dash between naps. When I had the two of them, with very conflicting nap schedules, we spent even more rushed moments when they were both actually awake, going outside! Having come from a job where I spent a lot of time outside, there were quite a lot of wistful, staring at the four walls times during this period!

I’m sure you can guess from my previous posts, that the deep thinking, tentative eldest, generally favoured slightly more genteel outdoor adventures like sand and water tables tables-swings were sometimes as adventurous as he got. And again, as you all know, the assassin child didn’t get his name for nothing…! He was using me as human climbing equipment and making as many freedom rolls as possible, before he could even walk!

outdoor play

And then we arrived at what I call the Golden Era. An era where they had co-ordinated naps (I co-ordinated mine with theirs, obviously!) and the rest of the day, we were freeeeeeeeee!!! Although I’ve mainly moaned ruminated about how hard each stage of parenting has been-I really do miss this particular time. The mornings being free, and getting a rest in the afternoon, is probably the dream combination, right?! Even at that stage, soft play was ok for the boys (and I seriously disliked it,) but going to the park was always, and still is, where it’s at.

children on swings, outdoor play

We have what we call the ‘secret park’ around the corner from us-so named because we didn’t even know it was there when we moved in, and it’s always so quiet! It’s surely one of Bristol’s best kept secrets. Although it does have what I once overheard one parent call ‘the bridge of death,’ a very high bridge with gaping gaps either side, and between each step…! It wasn’t until, yep, it was bound to happen-the youngest ‘run before you can walk’ child had climbed onto it, got half way before I realised he was no longer rolling safely in the mud, and fallen inevitably by the Law Of Sod through one of the gaps, that I fully appreciated playground surfaces too… After he’d bounced and rolled a few times, then pulled himself up guffawing, ready to go again, one of the other parents gave me an in depth explanation about the flooring is specially designed to do that, to break his fall. This, I admit, is something I’d never even paid attention to before. I’m now eternally grateful for it every time he falls from something he’s way too young, but far too adventurous not to be climbing.

outdoor play

Even the deciding factor in the eldest’s school, was the sheer volume of amazing wooden climbing frames in the extensive outdoor space. We were lucky that our other two choices we loved just as much, and they had a gorgeous literally ‘old school’ Victorian charm, but very little outdoor play space. Plus when the head teacher said that the school liked to put much more of an emphasis on playing in the primary years, and learning through outdoor play especially for reception and year one children, that was even more of a reason to choose it.

It can be hard to get the little one passed the school play equipment every day (I think I get the email ‘can we just remind you that siblings ARE NOT TO PLAY ON THE OUTDOOR EQUIPMENT!’ more than everyone else!) It’s like putting him in a bath of chocolate and telling him he can’t touch it, twice a day at pick up and drop off! But he’s looking forward to starting school next year, just for the play equipment alone!

outdoor play

Don’t get me wrong, I can still be a bit meh about it. I can be too cold, too tired, and feel a little Groundhoggish about going to the same places, and doing the same things on repeat. But we do have some amazing park memories, and days where the children have been to the park and played well for hours, have just been the easiest days-they are so much happier for it. Also, research carried out by ESP Play found that:

“With over 1,000 children being referred to hospital as a result of obesity, and 1 in 3 children between the ages of 2 and 10 being overweight, these figures are truly alarming.”

Me and my husband enjoy, and are still trying to improve upon, our healthy lifestyles, and we want to instil that into the children too. And while their diet is still a work in progress, at least I can ease my guilt, and at least hold onto the fact that they run wild and free in the park, as often as they need, even if I’m sometimes in need of just a trashy magazine and a sit down…! Being outside means they are happier, and then we all have a happier family dynamic-a win, in a sometimes very winless life!

*This is a collaborative post.

With Persil Wild Explorers app…!

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My children don’t like clean, it’s just not a state that they are happy with. Give them food, and there is sheer jubilation in 90% of it going on their faces and clothes. Give them felt tips, and their favourite canvas is themselves. Get them outside, and mudpies, mud angels (like snow angels, but with mud,) and embracing their inner Peppa for even the tiniest of puddles, is the order of the day. They are much happier for it! I probably shouldn’t mention that I’ve also embraced the dirt, having totally given up on housework-I’m building up their immune systems, right?!

Anyway, Persil have teamed up with The Woodland Trust, The Wildlife Trust, and The National Trust, with a mission to ‘re-wild childhood,’ and we have been testing it out! And I have to say, I’m quite hard to please when it comes to apps that entertain the children, especially as they largely prefer to be outdoors and most apps are for indoor activities, but this has proved invaluable since we downloaded it, with the children regularly asking ‘look on the app mummy!!’ When we go to the park-it’s an app designed to get you out!

You can download the app for free, from The Apple Store and Google Play. You will first be greeted with this page:

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Where you choose where you want to do the activity, how long you want to spend doing it, and the age of your children-easy! Then you are given a list of appropriate activities!

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Then choose what you want to do! The activities can be as simple as ‘hugging a tree,’ where the children touch, feel, and talk about the colours, textures, and names of the trees around you, to ‘hunting for cobwebs,’ I was looking for large, perfectly formed cobwebs, but the children found them in less obvious places…!

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  Tree Huggers…

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The eldest loved making letters from his name out of sticks (gathering precisely the right ones was massively important…!
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But, the absolute favourite activity, the one I get asked to do every time, was ‘mud volcanoes,’ an awesome activity, involving vinegar, bicarbonate of soda, mud, and squeals of delight!

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The children really have had fun with this, and it doesn’t just provide fun things to do outside, but encourages learning, and interaction between everyone. And anything that brings home the message of getting out, and relearning the dirt of my own long gone childhood, is always a winner in my eyes!

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This was a collaborative post, in partnership with Persil.