Sunday, 6 April 2014


he hasn't pushed her over, they are taking it in turns to roll down a hill!
I’m writing a series of blog posts exploring the books “How to be Free” and “The Idle Parent” written by Tom Hodgkinson.  I enjoyed a lot of the ideas expressed in these books, and think that exploring them further will help me to explore the principles behind my own way of living and parenting.

Chapter 4 – The Importance of Nature

Nature is a great resource for an idle parent.  In nature the children are learning, they play with few arguments, no whining and plenty of resources to go around, they aren't making a mess indoors which they expect you to clear up, and it's free!  Go to the wildest and most shop-free places that you can find.  The way we have our holidays - near the sea, the woods, the mountains, car and computer free, shows us that we yearn for nature, but we seem to have commodified it into "Holidays" which need to be paid for.  We need to try to get it back into our everyday lives.  Sometimes it takes a bit of effort to break the tether to the screen and get outdoors, but once there, we generally love it.  Tom suggests short trips, days out, freedom.  Camping trips, but not the ones to campsites where everybody spends the evening in their caravan watching TV - ones where a few families go together, and you can sit around the fire and drink coffee or beer while the children play.  At home opt for as much out-doors and as little intervention as possible.  As with low-input gardening, this doesn't mean abandoning the plot to the brambles, you still have to provide quality soil, and pull out the pernicious weeds, and add a bit of water here and there.  So it is with child-rearing, you need to provide the fundamentals, and tend here and there, but where things are doing okay, leave well enough alone.

How does this match up to the ink-spots-and-grass-stains life?

I completely agree with Tom on this one.  Just this afternoon the children were bouncing around the sitting room, so I asked, "What are your plans for this afternoon, you two?" No response.  "Are you going to play outside?"  They've been out for over an hour now, in the drizzle.  I'm not sure what they're playing, but there's a house in the bush down the side of the house, there's a pop-up tent up in the garage, I've seen a rugby ball with a three-year-old attached... Hubby is pottering around getting the caravan ready for next week's holiday and I'm up here writing.  Very easy parenting!

Next week we're off to Arisaig on the west coast of Scotland.  Yes, its a commercial campsite, but it's about as wild as you can get.  Even if fire's aren't allowed on the site (I think they might be), they are allowed on the beach which surrounds the site.  There's a small play area I think, but mostly there's a beach, and rocks, and the sea, and otters, and eagles, porpoise, sheep...  

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