Keep It Simple Stupid (K.I.S.S)

Hannah and Toots kissing up a tree: K.I. double S  I.N.G…

Just one kiss, this is where it begins. A single kiss has the potential to lead to a myriad of outcomes, one is parenthood…did you plan it like that?  I didn’t have the time or the notion to think about how I would: ‘parent’ – I was terrified…That one kiss led to twins.

I have no ambition to preach, or bore. Yet one thing is essential for us, our children, our friendships and our loves: simplicity.

Allowing our children to unwind and grow in a technology-free environment. Where nature and boredom can sit hand in hand, allowing a child to discover in their own time and in their own way, how to play.

Children in todays world are bombarded by an unprecedented amount of media and technology, the way they play freely has changed dramatically, the countries schooling system is under pressure and a competitive nature in parenting leaves many children finding it hard to cope.

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How can we help them to function in this high speed, stressful environment?

We have to simplify things, we need to de-clutter emotionally, physically. Give children, and yourself, the freedom to do nothing, to have nothing to do, to get dirty, to get outside, in the park, in the garden, kick a ball about, read a book or hang out with a mate.

Remove the technology and the thinking, the information and your anxiety to ‘succeed’ and allow them to just be. Allow them to get bored and to faff about with a pen and a paper, or a hammer and a nail, a hole and some mud.

Enjoy the chaos, the mess and the madness – this is life.

This scaling down, moving technology, pressure and allowing us all too just live gently and more organically – will provide your child with a safe space to be themselves – and it will teach them to find contentedness in simplicity.

Why Should We Play?

Research in the UK has shown that rates of depression and anxiety in teenagers has increased by 70% in the past 25 years, not only that but, one in ten children aged 5-16 years have a diagnosable mental health disorder, one in twelve children and one in fifteen young people deliberately self-harm and about 35,000 children in England are prescribed anti-depressants.

Over the last ten to twenty years childhood has changed significantly with various factors leading to a reduction in a child’s access and ability to play.

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These factors include children living in a world which has a much faster-paced, life-style, society is far more risk-averse, there is an increased focus on academic success and play has been undervalued rather than seen as an essential tool to help a child develop social skills, creativity and on-going learning.

National Children’s Day UK (NCDUK) was created to establish how important play is for learning, creativity and a host of other skills needed to survive in this 21st century world we inhabit. NCDUK wants to raise awareness about young peoples rights and wellbeing.

We should be allowed to play, whether young or old, because creativity, freedom and access to your inner imagination – are integral factors to maintaining mental health and wellbeing.

Have you noticed how alive and good you fill – simply by walking down a county road, or touching the bark of a tree’s trunk – nature is bountiful and quite simply it makes you feel good. Being playful, breathing outside, being creative, immersing yourself in an imaginative, playful and natural environment is a simple and perfect tonic and one we must allow children and adults alike to access and enjoy so they understand how to find that inner peace and goodness as children, and adults, grow.

NCDUK, which is now in its second year, was started by the Save Childhood Movement – a collaborative network of people who are committed to protecting the rights and freedoms of childhood and who support, inform and, where necessary, challenge leaders and policymakers in order to build more caring and value-led societies.

Wendy Ellyatt, CEO of Save Childhood Movement, said: “Childhood is changing fast. From the impact of screen technology to the restrictions of an increasingly risk-averse culture and the downward pressures of the schooling system, children’s rights and freedoms are being eroded and their opportunities for free play have been drastically reduced. In the lead-up to National Children’s Day UK 2015 we want to remind everyone just how essential play and playfulness is to human creativity and wellbeing.”

In 2010 IBM carried out a study of 5,000 chief executives across 60 countries and 33 industries and found that creativity was selected as: ‘the most crucial factor for future success’.

Creativity, imagination and playfulness are fundamental to every aspect of us as human beings, in our social skills, in our health and well-being and even in our business success – playful and innovative thinking is essential for a 21st century.

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There are so many ways to be creative, painting a plant pot, planting and nurturing a seed, baking a cake, writing a letter, lying in the grass and watching feeling the wind on your cheeks – nurture yourself and those around you in the simplicities of freedom, nature and play and grow inside.

NCDUK – was held around the UK yesterday 17th May 2015.

Why should we save Childhood?

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Boo inside an ENORMOUS Oak Tree Trunk #FreeNature

Childhood – an enormous word encompassing so much. There is such emphasis put on ‘childhood’ today and as parents it can feel very confusing knowing what you should give your child in order that they: ‘get the best’ childhood.

Of course, for every parent that means something different, perhaps a safe home, a garden, violin classes after school, private school, Steiner school, home-school, playdates, being vegetarian and on and on. There is a myriad of things we worry we should do more of, or cannot compete with, or simply cannot afford to give.

Yet research has found, over and over again, just giving a child the chance to connect and be free with nature, dirt and the earth around them is, quite simply, one of the most vital and important experiences they can have.

Encouraging children to play by themselves is essential. Get them outside and away from screens. Let them roll in the grass, chase butterflies, make ‘perfume’, plant seeds, blow a fluffy seed clock, run barefoot in the grass, listen to the birds, poke holes with sticks, taste fresh berries off a tree, build a fairy house with leaves, moss, stones, talk to animals, trees, flowers, clouds, the moon. Just let them really feel. 

This natural play is the building blocks of intelligence. To discover how to feel connected with the earth and yourself, to know you can return, any time you need, and re-tune throughout your life. It is so simple and all we need to provide is a green space.

One uncluttered with screens, tests, exams, the pressures of what to look like, be like, speak like, act like – leave it all behind – un-necessary weight.

The value of creative and experimental play in childhood, and adulthood, is often undermined and we need to ensure that we, as guardians of the next generation, are strong enough to stand true to the simple values of letting the children of our future be free.

Be truly free to experiment, get dirty, to imagine, to really feel and to play with their beautiful and wild imagination.

Britain has plenty of parks and open spaces and it is up to us to try and get everyone out for a walk and to deeply breathe in fresh air.

This year the Save Childhood Movement is partnering with National Children’s Day UK (NCDUK) on 17th May to celebrate: The Science and Magic of Play. Here in Bath that celebration will be in partnership with The Forest of Imagination ( a four-day contemporary arts event in Queen Square). This will include of a number of free talks given by the likes of, Wendy Ellyatt, Chief Executive, Save Childhood Movement, Steve Chown, Director, Play England and James Findlay of The Play Foundation. To hear these inspiring speakers and to find out more go here.