The news this morning reported parents “anxieties” about letting their children enjoy the freedom of outdoor play. One tabloid even reported that parents were “forcing” their children to play indoors thus creating a new generation of obese children. As a parent of two young boys I am aware of the dangers that are out there to our children.  But I am also aware that inflicting our fears on them could turn our children into a generation of scaredy cats.  There is a fine line.

So what are we to do? Raise scared, obese children to be scared obese adults? Or do we take the unthinkable risk and let them run wild on the assumption that the “stranger danger bogey man” is not hiding behind every bush?

My guess is that you have to trust parents to make that decision subjectively.

We are very lucky that we live in  house with a nice area of green outside for our children to plat on.  It is set back from the road, and big enough to kick a football on. To the delight of my children is also perfect for a communal (paddling) pool to share with their friends.  We have the added bonus that our neighbours have children of similar ages so there is very much a communal feel about our area.  On a warm weekend we will all have our front doors wide open, we feed each others children and have them running in and out of our houses.  There is only the occasional upset when we have splinter or the children have an argument.

We have actually HAD a summer this year (and long may it continue).  With the kids now on the summer holidays their outside existence is there in abundance, with the occasional blip of a rainy day or a reluctant yet dutiful Grandparent visit.

Like I say, we are lucky.  Our children are able to have the freedom of the outside with the security of knowing their safe haven is a stones throw away. 

As parents I am also happy they are building their little imaginations with their outdoor games.  When I quietly watch them from the step I can see their natural leadership, organisation and social skills simply ooze from them.

Not to look through rose tinted glasses, but my childhood was equally idyllic.  We played a little bit further away perhaps, but this was the 1980’s.  And things were different then.  That’s not to say things didn’t happen, but there was not much news of it. Or if there was we as children were shielded from it.

I am aware that in a year or two I shall have their questions about heading to the park with their friends.  Now the park is not on our doorstep but requires them to cross a road and it is also out of our viewing range.  I shall cross that bridge when I come to it…..!

So what do you do if you have children in a flat or a townhouse on the edge of a busy road?  Do you feel that you have no choice but you have them play indoors unless you are there to watch their every move?  What age is acceptable for them to “wander off” to explore with their friends?  What boundaries do you set? 

I would love to hear your opinions on this.

Hugs on the last day of school
Thats me with all the hair!
There has been a lot of talk in the news this week about the nations 16 year olds getting their all -important GCSE results. 

Instantly I am propelled back to that time.  Of waking up early and eager to get to the school office to get my results, anticipating that this little slip of paper could determine my future.  If only I realised back then that the future would hold more worries than I would care to imagine than just this.

It also made me think.  Who was I back then?  Who have I become? Should I be proud?  If only I could have a glimpse in the future.

So 17 years later, here is a letter from a woman, to a girl…

"Dear Colette

I write to you on the morning you are getting your GCSE results.  I know you have worked hard, but I also know you could have worked harder.  You know that.

The friends, who have led you astray these past few weeks I can tell you now, will not be part of your future.  You have bound to be friends forever, and they will also hold a special place in your heart, and you WILL be in contact again.  But for now leave them behind you.  They each have different paths they wish to take.  Give it a few years and you will understand this.

However you do have two friends in particular who will go on to be the best friends you could hope for in your adult life.

When you open your results this morning, please don’t be disappointed.  You have done ok.  Not brilliantly, but ok.  And that will get you started.  You will just have to work that little bit harder at college to prove to everyone that you are capable. 

You are not a natural academic, you will come to realise this in time.  But you do have a lot of confidence and that will count for a lot in your future.  Just keep striding forwards with your head held high, and for goodness sake, wear a pair of heels.  Those clumpy DM’s do not impress anyone!

I know you look in the mirror and see someone fat.  You are not.  The last few years you have been the slimmest you have been for a while.  Just go easy on the chips and mayonnaise at college.  And the beer!  I know you won’t believe this now as you are not keen on exercise, but in the future you will adapt to a healthy lifestyle that makes you love exercise and the benefits it can bring. 

Be kind to the boy that keeps asking to walk you home from school.  I know you are seeing someone else at the moment.  Someone much older.  But this kind, local boy will one day make you the happiest woman alive, and will give you the greatest gift of two wonderful children.  Yes!  Children.  I know you don’t wish to consider children in your future, but they will be there.  And you will be overjoyed.

Stop smoking.  Seriously.  Stop.  They may be cheap now, and it may be a little dark and dangerous habit to impress the peers.  But when you are trying to give them up in the future when they have drained your health and your bank account you will wish you never started.

Dye your hair.  Please.  The bleached front and brushed out perm look really does nothing for you.

Work hard.  Put in all the hours you can and save up as much money as you can.  You have a wonderful life ahead of you and so many nice things to look forward to and pay for…..DO NOT, I repeat  DO NOT apply for that credit card.

Be nice to Mum and Dad.  You may not realise this but in the future when you have children of your own you will appreciate what they did for you and the sacrifices they made.  Think twice before you slam that door.

Ring your Grandparents.  You don’t have much more time left to talk to them as adults.  They are good, kind, knowledgeable people. Pick up the phone, pay them a visit.  They love you more than you will ever know.

Learn how to apply make up.  Seriously, you still don’t have a clue in 17 years time and that “grunge” era did women our age no favours!"

So there you have it.  My older “responsible” self advising the girl I used to be. 

What would you say to your 16 year old self?

I blogged recently on my exposure to hormonal pregnant women.  These pregnant women are now starting to pop the babies out left, right and centre and it really has confirmed things for me good and proper - I. DONT. WANT. ANY. MORE. KIDS.

This is not a decision I have just made.  I knew from the minute I held my youngest son in my arms that I was NEVER going through that again.  It was such a relief to finally come to the end of my pregnancy and meet my little bundle that I swore there and then I would have no more.

This revelation may upset the PM's (Proper Mummy's) out there.  Yes I was extremely lucky to have fallen pregnant in record time with my two children (much to my husband's dismay there wasn't much "practising"), and up until I had children I had always wanted three children (having experienced the cost of having just two I have no idea how normal people survive financially with more than that).  But pregnancy to me was a means to an end.

I make it sound like I had a rotten time and wanted the pregnancies over and done with.  This is not the case.  Apart from a mild case of SPD (Symphasis Pubic Dysfunction) I sailed through my pregnancies.  Of course I had all the usual ailments, but I did not suffer from morning sickness, nor did I go off any food (I wish, it was the opposite!), nor did I have any major back pain.  Both of my children were born exactly a week early, with very simple and quick births where I did not require any stitches or medical intervention (including pain relief....this I may add was not a choice, I was SCREAMING for some but I was "too far gone" apparently - what do they know?)

I just wanted to see my babies, and lived for every scan so I could get a glimpse at the little bundles.

I breast fed for the minimal amount of time (I had wine to drink, it had been a while) and a body to get back into shape.  I was looking forward to getting back to work and more importantly, was looking forward to living my life with my two beautiful children, knowing that I had so much to look forward to.

So now they are pretty self sufficient.  My youngest starts school in September and things are FINALLY starting to get easier.  So when I held my friends new born baby in my arms last week I cooed, mmmm'd and arrrr'd.  I stroked his little cheek and rubbed his little nose. I fell in love instantly with the little bundle.  But when he started to squirm and produce something very sticky and smelly down below I happily passed him back to my friend (who has 3 other children I may add) and thanked my lucky stars that I didnt have to go through all that again.

I had another reminder of my firm decision at a picnic at the weekend.  I was happily sat back with a glass of wine in my hand watching my two gorgeous boys running around the park together, whilst my friend battled with her toddler.  He knocked glasses over, he picked up mud, he tried eating the mud, he cried, he filled his nappy, he toddled off everywhere he shouldn't do and my friend looked exhausted.  I carried on drinking, and smiled smugly.

Oh but I'm not a rotten person. I certainly do not want this blog post to come across as me being a selfish Mum.  That is SO not the case.  I think I'm a pretty good Mum.  My children are my world and I want to give my two children everything that I can.  But I also want to have a little piece of my life back and this is just starting to happen.

So to all the parents out there, are you done? Or are you looking to bake some more lovelys to add to your brood?

I think you know my take on the matter......!