Free Range Kids in Suburbia?

When I was a child growing up there were not many opportunities to climb trees and run wild. This lack of ‘outdoor’s is a real problem if you grow up in a city or fairly well developed area. With safety concerns about abduction and cars and so forth I think its probably been an issue since at least the 1970’s for many children.

We live in a fairly suburban area, we are lucky enough to have a beautiful park within walking distance, but I must admit I don’t feel comfortable with the idea of letting the children roam freely over there. Added to my concerns about general safety I have a lot of worries about misbehaving dogs after several incidents. Luckily there are a couple of trees on our walk home from school which are suitable for climbing, but generally there isn’t the chance to be properly free range.

I think its a real shame, I’d love my children to have a childhood reminiscent of Swallows and Amazons or Enid Blyton; roaming about having adventures. That’s why myself and the husband spend a lot of time considering our holiday options. Not for us the foreign holidays where you sit by a pool as the children are entertained in the kids club! No, we opt for a few week long UK holidays with a few long weekends thrown in. We camp, we youth hostel and we hire cottages as cheaply as possible. This is partly for financial reasons but also because I’m a strong believer that the experience of life you get in a tent, youth hostel or basic cottage is much more valuable than being surrounded by luxury. Having to go to the TV room for example means you inevitably have to talk to others, usually those who have quite interesting lives…

One way of enabling my children to be as free range as possible is to allow them a bit of freedom on our trips away. One of the best places we go to is North Norfolk, there the children can encounter all sorts of wildlife and they can slide down sand dunes, climb trees, hide in the woods and jump in puddles to their hearts content. They might not be quite so free range when they are at home, but on these trips we try to give them plenty of freedom even if it means some heart in mouth moments. I must admit that little Ned gets a lot more freedom that our eldest ever did. I don’t think I would have even remotely considered allowing him to climb trees to quite such a height!

How do you encourage your children to me more free range at home? I’d love some ideas

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