Wild parenting during lockdown

Wild parenting during lockdown

Grey heron (Ardea cinerea) Regent's Park, London - Terry Whittaker/2020VISION

AAARRRRGGGHHHH! Sorry. I needed somewhere to let that out.

Being a parent to a young child (my daughter is 18 months old), trying to work from home, worrying about friends and family, all during a global pandemic, can start to feel a little much, can’t it?

I imagine I am one of millions of people in a similar position; having family both younger and older than me to worry about, fretting about the economy, trying to stay safe myself and trying to work out exactly what it was about toilet rolls. You, like me, might find yourself shouldering more responsibility than you thought you ever would and wondering what you used to do with all that spare time you must have had previously. All credit to you if you are now home-educating on top of everything else that is going on. Whilst my daughter isn’t yet in school, I can imagine you have kids who are currently asking you what SOH CAH TOA means, wanting an example of an adverb, and if “Est-ce que tu parles français?”

There is no doubt, it’s tough at the moment. Through this blog I can hopefully bring some respite and some ideas of how you can incorporate wildlife and nature into your current situation – you’re doing the best you can so be kind to yourself!


Donna Nook, Lincolnshire WT - Eden Jackson

Alongside complaining about their school work, I’m guessing your kids are throwing in the odd “I’m bored.” Just sparingly. Maybe every five minutes or so.

Keeping them entertained without going out can be a challenge. In the current situation it’s important to think of things you can do together, things which they can pick up and drop as their interest rises and falls.

This is where wildlife and nature plays the role that only they can.

Ladybird on finger

c. Adam Cormack

The best thing about the natural world is its diversity. If your children aren’t interested in watching the birds in the garden, maybe they could plant some pollinator-friendly flowers. If they don’t want to grow their own strawberries, they could do a torch-light survey for moths in the garden. There really is something for everyone.

It is also everywhere - from the rural fields of the Cheshire Plain, right through to the flowers on the apartment balconies of Greater Manchester. Look outside and you’ll soon see swallows returning from their wintering grounds in Africa. Or you’ll see brimstone butterflies emerging from their hibernation. Wildlife is everywhere and is for everyone to enjoy. Have a look at below for activity ideas to do at home with your kids, no matter where you live.

To my mind, the key thing to remember is to do what your kids want to do….within reason. Yes, it is frustrating when they flip-flop between activities, leaving you to tidy up the resulting mess. Yes, it would be great if they just did the one thing you wanted to do with them. But children rarely work like that.

It’s also easy to think you need to do something that looks like something you saw on social media. My friends are currently learning a new language, or taking up a new hobby. Their kids are honing skills I can’t even fathom; who does a Rubik’s cube that quickly?? In the meantime, I’m pushing my daughter around in a wheelbarrow. Which she loves by the way, it’s not that I’m too tight to buy a baby carrier. It’s not photogenic, it’s not an activity I’d pick, but it’s what she wants to do. She’s outside, she’s having fun and, at the end of the day, that’s what matters. Hopefully, she will outgrow being pushed around in a wheelbarrow, more for the sake of my arms than anything else. But, having enjoyed being outside in the garden now, she will hopefully spend time with me counting butterflies or feeding the birds in the future.


c. Pilrepo.com

It’s easy to feel the pressure to keep up with Jones’. Or whoever the cool family is nowadays, I don’t have the time to keep up to date with these things. But the pressure, the real pressure, is to ensure we all take care of our little ones and the planet they are set to inherit. If we can keep the kids happy and the planet liveable, then we are doing alright. One will take time and patience. The other will take significant action. But, we can do both at the same time with a bit of thought; protecting both our world and our planet.

So this Mental Health Awareness Week – be kind! Be kind to people, be kind to our natural world and be kind to yourself! And share your stories, the real ones – not the staged, airbrushed or filtered versions – but the wheelbarrow ones that make you truly happy.

Child silhouette

David Tipling/2020VISION