In this open and humorous blog our Wild Crew member Tamsin shares how the new Persil Wild Explorers app helped to launch her family out the door for some Wild Time.
Sometimes, just getting out of the door is difficult enough – never mind actually going somewhere to enjoy some Wild Time with the children (teen and pre-teen in my case). It’s not that I don’t know why it’s good to get out and play wild. After all, here at The Wild Network we keep on top of the research that comes out about the benefits of Wild Time. Just this past few months, for example, I’ve seen papers showing that green spaces influence children’s physical activity and emotional wellbeing, as well as their ability to spot and handle risk, and helps them concentrate at school. And it even looks as though connecting families to nature might boost healthy eating in 2-4 year olds! And on it goes. We can’t keep up.
Even so, sometimes I just don’t do it. I’ll come up with all kinds of excuses, and the children don’t exactly leap up shouting, ‘Wild Time now! Please can we have some Wild Time! Mum – let’s go and play wild!’ Oh no. Instead, they have evolved a sixth sense which detects any opportunity to slink off and quietly log on; maybe it’s a real evolutionary trend!
But I’d had a chance to preview the new Persil app, and so I was determined to put it to the test. I scrolled through the various activities and settled on: Smell Collecting. Put your nose to work and see what you can smell. Or smell what you can see, it suggested.
I told the boys. Their initial enthusiasm was promising.
‘Dad’s Stinky McStink Face.’
They’d clearly got the idea, so out we went for a walk. I tried to keep the focus on smells. We got as far as horse, bonfire, exhaust fumes, lavender, eau-de-wet-dog, cut grass, deodorant, and Odour of Discovered Golf Ball.
But then something else started to happen. As we walked, the children stopped collecting smells, and started to do other things:
- Who can throw a stone so it lands in the middle of the horse manure and makes the biggest splat?
- If you steal your brother’s shoe, does it motivate him to hop further on a wet path?
- How many times can you whack your brother with a gigantic Himalayan balsam stalk before it (and he) snaps?
- Can you balance on a steep slope and catch a tennis ball as it rolls back down the hill so that it doesn’t hit the nice quiet family with nice quiet children walking nice and quietly just behind?
- How might you negotiate the return of your shoe?
- How much weight can a frayed rope swing over a stream hold? What happens if you add momentum? Is this a good way to work out how deep the water is?
- How might your mother react if you hurl your brother’s shoe over the hedge?
- How loud must you be to scare an entire flock of sparrows witless?
- Who needs shoes anyway? (Refer mother to Wild Explorers activity #53: Barefoot Walk)
It was so ordinary, it was almost magical. In other words, they made their own fun – their own version of Wild Time.
I can’t pretend we were going to sneak up on any birds, watch spiders spinning or marvel at the intricate patterns of foxgloves, but hey – we were out, and we were having fun.
And then I got thinking. None of those games were things I would have come up with. The boys invented them. All I had to do was get them out.
The app doesn’t pretend to be any kind of ultimate list of things you can do outside. The real benefit is that every activity is really just a push, nudge, poke, spark, catalyst, prod…. to get outside with children, to spend time together, to play wild… to spark off our own tiny version of Wild Time, which then takes on a wonderful, creative, unpredictable, rewarding momentum of its own.
Persil launched the app, and the app launched us.
I’ve just looked at the activities on the app again. There’s loads on there that could propel us over that threshold. What might happen if we were to choose use the following as Wild Time launchers…
… Grass Trumpet: make some wild music (or just a really, really loud noise)
… Move like the Animals: why walk like a human when you can crawl, slither, glide or even discover a brand new move?
… Blindfold Tour: Guide a blindfolded friend around an outdoor space.
How might those stories end? Gulp!
Download the app now!
To help get you and your family outdoors, we're giving away ten weekend breaks so you can go wild together! If this isn’t enough, we’re also giving all the lucky winners a £200 gift card to get stuck into the many activities on offer. Enter now to be in with a chance of winning.
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