Playing out

I’m completely frazzled, I’ve been busy all day and now I’m tired.  I’m trying to cook tea and oversee a game of Frustration, appropriately enough, and the children are bickering.  I swallow my shouts, but feel my scalp tightening over my skull. They’re full of end of school bouncing off the walls energy and they could really do with a good run around.  But I can’t face the traipse to the common, and anyway, it’ll make bedtime late, so I switch on the TV.  Again.  I wish I could just shove them out of the door to play, but no one does that any more, do they.

Except they do.  This week I discovered Playing Out.  It’s run by a couple of mums in Bristol who started small, by getting their own street closed for a couple of hours after school one day, and now help others organise the same.  Streets all over Bristol close for play on a monthly basis, some on a weekly basis.  There’s no agenda for the children, they can do what they want, but with space to do it in.  It sounds bloody marvellous.

Our street is full of children, but they don’t know each other well.  They’re all slightly different ages and they go to a number of different schools.  Our children play with the next door neighbours, usually throwing water bombs over the fence at each other, but it’s restricted by the size of our gardens and my desire to keep the fence in one piece.  I love the idea of them forging new friendships over a love of skateboarding, sitting on the kerb with an ice lolly, running off steam before tea.

Sounds good doesn’t it?  Who’s with me?

 

13 comments
    • Victoria said:

      Isn’t it just? I’ve emailed a neighbour asking her what she thinks…

  1. It is a good idea and really helps parents overcome that worry that comes with letting their kids out. Where we live there is a small wood behind us and no cars so I have recently allowed my 8 yr old out to play with the boys from two door away. He loves it and they build dens, play games, play football. It is great and I know he gets a lot out of it. But I’m lucky an I know that most friends of mine would love this idea as they live in areas where there are busy roads and generally too many cars.

    • Victoria said:

      That sounds fab! I let my kids scoot around the block, but I love the idea of a set time when they can ALL play together safely.

  2. I am not sure about this at all. I am so lucky in that we live in an area where the children do play out after school, no street closures necessary. I think if this happened then in might confuse them as they might go on to the road to play at other times thinking it is safe.

    I want the boys to grow up with a level of independence and try to do things to allow them to play out with their friends as I used to.

    • Victoria said:

      I’d make it very clear that they couldn’t just leave the house without asking me! My kids are very traffic aware anyway because of living in London, so this would be a special treat.

  3. Corinne said:

    It sounds great, my biggest is old enough to head out to the park but the little ones are a long way off. I suppose they will be able to go with their big brother before long.

    • Victoria said:

      I let mine scoot round the block now, even the five year old, but there are no roads to cross.

    • Pressed send too soon. Have fantastic memories of playing out as a child. As a result my neighbours were like siblings. Sad that it takes actual organisation to make it happen but a reflection of our paranoia about child safety and love affair with the car.

      • Victoria said:

        Same here, I had a very close relationship with a couple of children who lived nearby. For me it’s fear of cars, not strangers. Streets are roads these days, undeniably for the purpose of driving. It’s sad that their use as common space has been all but forgotten in such a few years.

  4. Kelly said:

    We are lucky in that we live in a close and therefore the traffic is quite quiet and most people driving in and out know to look for children playing. Piran keeps asking to go out though and he is too little to go by himself at the moment so I have to be out there too which can be difficult. I loved playing out as a child and we were sent off first thing in the morning with sandwiches for lunch and strict instructions to be home in time for tea.

    • Victoria said:

      Very Famous Five! I love the idea of that sort of freedom.

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