What should be on your child’s to-do list?

One of the things I’ve found most difficult about becoming a parent is how DIFFERENT Flea’s experience of childhood is to my own.

I grew up in a family of four children. My Dad was a scout leader and our childhood involved lots of camping, building dens in woods, long days on the sand dunes and heading off to explore on our bikes. I played out with my friends from quite a young age – with boundaries, of course, which got more relaxed as I got older.

Today, childhood can seem very sanitised in comparison. Rather than letting kids climb trees we send them off to Tumble Tots to climb in a safe, approved manner. Swimming happens at lessons, in heated swimming pools, and cycling is what we do at the park, on the path.

Part of me can understand all the good and valid reasons why society is like this – increased traffic means roads are more dangerous, and media hysteria means a heightened fear around risks that haven’t particularly increased, like abduction and paedophilia. But another part of me is determined that Flea shouldn’t miss out on ALL the fun things I did with my brothers and our friends when we were young.

There’s some new research out this week from Persil, where my second husband* Bear Grylls has produced a list of ten things he thinks kids should do before they turn 10. The list includes:

  1. Perfect the perfect hill roll
  2. Become a hide and seek champion
  3. Go sledging – on sand
  4. Build a den – indoors or out
  5. Build a rope swing
  6. Nurse that sting
  7. Try and count the stars
  8. Make a mud pie
  9. Make a compass
  10. Pick your own pudding

* not officially confirmed, but surely only a matter of time. 

I think it’s a pretty good list – and at the age of six, Flea has probably done more than half of these things. But I think it’s missing some vital elements. Here are the top 5 things I reckon kids should do before they turn ten:

  • Camp out overnight
  • Climb a tree
  • Join the library
  • Learn first aid
  • Build a fire – and learn how to put it out

It occurs to me both Bear’s list and my own don’t include any items like ‘play the Wii’ or ‘learn how to use Google’. This suggests that our future marriage will work out brilliantly because we have so much in common. Also, perhaps, that the things we remember from our own childhoods – the most powerful and enduring memories – aren’t about computer games or theme parks or expensive toys. They’re about spending time outdoors, becoming independent.

What do you think – would you add anything to your children’s To-Do list?

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