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Where have all the children gone?

This morning, the sun was shining for the first time in a few days. It was still a little chilly but the sky was blue and the wind had died down. I had to walk the dogs anyway, so I decided to make the most of the weather and walk up to Libby’s favourite park. 

It’s a bit of a trek to this particular park, mostly uphill on the way there but it’s a beautiful scenic route, the dogs and I get some exercise and Libby gets to go on the swings. Everyone’s a winner. My sister came to join us on the walk so we strolled up there slowly, putting the world to rights on for the way. We arrived at the park at about 11.30 am and we had the whole park and adjacent large playing field to ourselves. Nobody walking their dogs, no children, nothing. That got me thinking that we didn’t see anybody out with their children on the way up there either, or on the way home. 

I know that older children are currently in school and that most people have to be in work at that time of day. Even so, surely there are other mums that stay at home with their children? I know it’s cold and nobody wants their children to get too chilly and end up ill, but surely the fresh air is beneficial? When I was a child, going to the park was a staple part of growing up. Getting some fresh air every day to keep you healthy was as important as eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of sleep. The park was always a winner because the children could get on and do their own thing, the adults could have a sit down and a chat and everyone would enjoy the outing. Moreover, the park was always busy. It didn’t matter if it was winter, or a school day, or a little bit on the fresh side… even in the rain you used to have to queue for the slide and walk the long way around the swings so the people on there didn’t kick you. Getting a space on the roundabout or a go on the seesaw was a real treat that sometimes took what seemed like hours of waiting and persuading the big kids to let you on. 

So, my question is, what do people do with their children these days? It’s not a sarcastic or rhetorical question, I am genuinely not sure. If you are a stay at home or work at home mum, how do you entertain your preschool children during the day? I am wondering whether I’m missing something. Television, games consoles, books, crafts, swimming? Do you incorporate a trip out of the house every day? 

I’d love to think that today was a one off and children do still go to the park but even at the weekends, it is rare to see more than one other family there. I would hate to see our parks and playing fields disappearing in the UK through lack of use. Has anyone else experienced this or am I living in a ghost town? 



  1. Marianne Hopwood
    March 21, 2013 / 10:33 pm

    I live on one of the most deprived estates in one of the most deprived towns in the country, and I think all the missing kids are here. There’s so many kids that are truanting or who have been excluded that you can’t tell the difference between term time and holidays for the volume of kids roaming around. One benefit of our estate is that it contains lots of green spaces and trees, and seems generally quite safe for the kids to play out. I think there’s definitely a class barrier to kids playing out though. I wouldn’t let Ollie at 3 be in charge of his 1 year old brother to roam the estate, but apparently I’m in a minority.

  2. Natalie Ray
    March 21, 2013 / 11:14 pm

    Blimey it really does sound different there. My husband thinks that there are just very few parents around here that are able to be at home with their children during the day but I disagree because there are always loads of them sat drinking tea in all the baby groups!x

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