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It’s the start of the summer and peak flight time for kids. School holidays kick off the increasing number of kids running wild in the airport. I am prompted to write this blog flying back from a work trip to Lisbon. The airport was FULL of kids! Lisbon was wonderful but putting that aside… what are the things we need to think about when travelling with kids?

The age of your children with determine the different things you need to think about. And anyone with a baby will know you need to take 5 times more ‘stuff’ than you think. The good news is, the older your child gets, there is a reduction in travel paraphernalia. Car seats, cots and buggies are the trauma of any travelling family. How does the smallest person have the most luggage?

Fortunately, car seats and pushchairs are free to check in on airlines. Thank goodness for that I hear you cry. Be careful with your car seat though. I have had more than one broken over the years from (I imagine) some over enthusiastic effort to get it into the hold. Wrap it if you can or hire one at the other end.

Then let’s talk about pushchairs. The Baby Zen YoYo appears to be a big hit. I have never had one and had the Mountain Buggy Nano instead which did the job. Either way, if you can have a buggy that fits into the overhead locker, you are on to a winner. So many airports give you have your buggy at the luggage carousel which means a trek from the plane to the luggage collection baby under one arm. To avoid this hideous mission, if you have been forced to check your buggy, wear a sling. Have it on and ready, then you can unload your little person from the buggy straight into the sling to board the plane. Can be a slight challenge if flying solo. I remember bending over to fold the buggy and my son almost sliding out onto the tarmac from the sling. Bad moment….!

As for food, be brave with the security brigade at the airport. Travel with it sealed if you can and then they are less likely to have an antsy about it, particularly with powdered milk, or you can order it at Boots to collect airside. Yup! This was a good tip off from a friend of mine.

On to keeping them busy on the plane, particularly for older kids, take something to amuse them. From colouring to iPad, to music, just do it. This is not the moment to enforce your screen time limitations. Let it go for flying for you and everyone else around you. You can reinstate the regime when you land.

And last but not least for all of you with babies in a routine, this is the BEST advice I was ever given when travelling with my kids when shifting time zones. From the moment you leave the house, to the moment you arrive at your destination, forget the time. Don’t even think about what your baby should or shouldn’t be doing. Land, get there and then when you have arrived, go with your normal routine on the local time zone. Your baby will crack it faster than you think

Happy holidays – Enjoy!!!

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I have read a fascinating paper written by Andrew Powell. The paper looks at women in the UK labour market and business.

Between October – December 2018 the female employment rate was 71.4%, the highest it has been since records began in 1971. Of the women working, 41% work part time compared with 13% of men. It was noted in a review of the Gender Pay Gap reports that part time workers tend to earn less per hour than those working full-time. As more women than men work part-time this shows up in the gender pay gap stats.

There is so much information in this report talking about the types of work women are more likely to undertake and the differences in self-employed roles. Interestingly 19% of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK with employees were led by women in 2017. Men are more likely than women to be involved in “total early stage entrepreneurial activity”.

Women overall are more likely to be employees rather than self-employed. 89% of women in employment are employees compared to 81% of men. 11% of women are self employed versus 19% of men although the number of self-employed women has increased significantly over the last 10 years.

Women are starting their own businesses, creating new brands, following their dreams and feeling more inspired to be their own boss. From clubs like AllBright to apps like Sistr springing up, the rise of support for women doing their thing, is at full throttle. This isn’t a trend, it’s a new way of life, and the way we raise our children is all part of how families are changing.

There was an article in the times on Monday with the headline ‘Fewer fathers able to take baby leave’.

Raising a family has shifted more to being a shared responsibility, to be able to help women work they way they want, we also need to let go of the view that employed men need to be in the office all day every day.

Parenting is a team event, and to get WoMos and the Dads juggling work and home, flexible working is for everyone. Just the other day I heard from a male friend that a man on his team had asked to come in late one morning a week to take the kids to school. Fortunately, my friend is very much in the camp of supporting the family juggle, and granted his request immediately.

Why not? This is the way of the future, and work is no longer 9-5 sat at a desk. It supports personal wellbeing, helps men and women fulfil a sense of purpose and in turn increases productivity at work. What’s not to like?

Read the full report here: By Andrew Powell March 8th 2019. A House of Commons Paper #CBP06838.

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Well it’s not every Monday morning that you sit at your desk and reflect on swimming the English Channel over the weekend. But today…. I am. And my reflections are coupled with the physical reminders of what my awesome little team and I achieved last week. In short, I’m in pain. All over! I feel like I’ve gone several rounds in the ring but I can confidently say it was all worth it. It was worth it on several levels and I’d like to try and explain why.

Signing up to crazy challenges has been something I’ve been doing for several years now, thanks largely to finding “The Sisterhood”, a rather epic and eclectic group of women with a shared passion to push our physical and psychological boundaries whilst raising money for charity. Everything I’ve done with this group of amazing people has brought nothing but positivity, and has given me the perfect platform from which to explore all the things I believe help us stay psychological fit and gritty individuals. Both vital aspects of our general wellbeing.


But why did this particular challenge hit the right note for me? Why has it given me permission to feel immensely proud of our awesome team? A kick-ass team comprising a barrister (Chesca Lord, whose competitiveness and dedication is off the scale) and three business owners (Emma Sayle, Claire Worman and myself who have 8 kids between us). I need to stress at this point that Claire only learnt to swim last October (yes, you read that correctly – she’s only been swimming for nine months so she thought she’d swim the channel. Obviously!) This sums up The Sisterhood mentality.

Achieving stretched goals:

Research tells us that setting ourselves stretched goals and goals that we are passionate about are vital for us to not only build our grit and perseverance, but also experience achievement. Well this certainly fell into that category. We started out as an eight-woman team, willing and eager to dominate this 21 mile stretch of (not so nice) water. A few months ago the team dropped to six, but seeing the positive (“Oh well, that just makes it even more of a challenge”), we decided to crack on and not replace the other two team members. The six of us trained together in open water, squeezed in sessions around our ever-hectic lives, and just over a week ago we had our first potential window. Bags packed, protein bars at the ready, excited butterflies fuelling our collective fires, only to be stood down at the last minute. Turns out this is England, and nobody mentioned our plans to June who decided to kick up a bit of a stink.

Flexibility in mind:

And so…. we waited. And waited. Anxiously hoping for the right weather and tide combination which didn’t seem likely to emerge until our designated slot was over. The amount of mental flexibility we needed to use made me contemplate that if we had stayed rigid in our thought pattern of how things were MEANT to go, we would all have come crashing down and admitted defeat. Because it wasn’t until the last possible moment that we got the call up. We were on. And then we lost another two team members which took us down to four.


This now felt like a goal that had been stretched to breaking point! And possibly in other circumstances with a different group of people we would have admitted defeat. We hadn’t trained for 21 miles to be split four ways, bearing in mind that one of our heroic number had only learnt to swim nine months ago, but the positive mindset and camaraderie resulted in the same response; “Ok, now that makes it even more of a challenge. Let’s do this!”

And after another weather-related false start on Friday lunchtime, we finally began our watery odyssey at 1am on Saturday morning, in the pitch-black chop of La Manche. Not sure why muggins here decided to put herself forward for the first leg, but the thrill and excitement of starting and the intense team focus and passion over-rode all the nerves and ridiculousness of what we were doing. So, one by one, we took to the water and nailed it over several gruelling hours.


Support:

We nailed it because we had passion, combined with various personal and collective reasons, that drove us to keep going. We had the most amazing support network both in terms of each other on the boat, and all the people that were rooting for and supporting us. Having a support network is one of the most effective ways of keeping a positive mindset and we had that in spades. We were kind, compassionate and supportive when a team member needed it.

This helped calm our nerves by not letting our threat system take over and potentially fuel a panic attack when faced with the prospect of jumping in the cold, dark murky water in the middle of the night. We used breathing techniques to calm our threat system when there was possibility that we might not be able to physically carry on. All these things were vital to achieving our goal.


What does success look like?

And perhaps most importantly there was the concept of what success meant to us. We didn’t quite touch French soil because when we were a few km out, and could clearly see the beach we were aiming for, the weather and tide made it too dangerous and impossible to make the final dash and clamber up on to the beach. Perhaps a few years ago we would have seen that as a failure, but this was not how we defined success in this instance. We had swum over 28 miles (due to the zig-zag nature of the route) with half the team missing. We had completed our challenge in spite of the odds, in spite of the changes, the hurdles, the unknowns and the bloody June weather! We did it together. We achieved because of our dogged grit, our passion, and our commitment to each other and to our chosen charity “The Sick Children’s Trust”. To us that was the biggest example of success and achievement, and ultimately the only thing that mattered.

Until the next challenge…thank you team Sisterhood.

Blog written by Dr Vanessa Lewis and originally appeared here.

@the_mindflex_dr

www.mindflexgroup.com

Still time to contribute towards the amazing The Sick Children's Trust which we have raised money for. Click here to donate!

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So let’s talk about job sharing…

Job sharing gives flexibility, gives balance and contributes to wellbeing. If you want to work more flexibly and balance home and work, then a new online tool is coming your way. We were thrilled here at WoMo towers to come across Flink an online job share matching tool.

Back in the days of working at LVMH I recruited two WoMos to do a job share as HR Manager. They applied for the job as a pair, they came as a unit and had all the experience I needed and more. Based on my passion for supporting WoMos, I was thrilled to receive their application. I interviewed them, and compared them to other candidates as I would in any recruitment process, with the view of hiring the best person for the job. That person was these two WoMos as a job share.

There was some push back from the business, it was new, it was different but they put forward a comprehensive presentation explaining how they would manage the concerns that had been raised.

Concerns such as:

  • how would holiday be covered?

  • would they communicate with one another?

  • what would happen if one of them had a meeting on a Monday, would the same information be understood on Friday (with the other half of the job share)?

  • would the job share be over budget?

  • what impact would it have on others?

As the interview process continued, I invited them to present and define the plan, as they saw it. I asked them to present to the senior leaders the way they would work and this alleviated any issues. Once the senior leaders felt it was a goer, we were good to offer Katie and Louise the position. I was thrilled!

Katie and Louise are moving 6 years later from their role into a more senior position in a new company. They are moving as a pair, they still work as a pair, and if anything their partnership and unity has enhanced their commitment to the role. They balance WoMo life and work life well and are a joy to work with.

If you think job-sharing could be for you, Flink launches Thursday 20th June. Keep an eye out!



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Hi Elizabeth, tell us a bit about yourself. What do you do, how old are your children and what happens with your kids when you are at work?

I am the CEO of Cypher; we inspire children to learn the language of the future at our creativity & coding camps. I have three children aged 10, 8 and 6 months. While I’m at work they are either at school or with me.

1. One word to describe how being a WoMo makes you feel?

Astounding

2. What’s the funniest experience you have had juggling kids and work?

Not really so much funny really…but as we run clubs and camps my son often comes along and joins a class. It all went a bit pear shaped when he decided the teacher wasn’t good enough and fired them! It all got sorted out later though….

3. What is the one piece of advice you could offer another WoMo?

Your kids can fit into your working life much more than you expect.

4. What’s the least amount of sleep you’ve gone to work on and how did you cope?

One hour. It reminded me of being at Architecture School and doing an all-nighter - I just got on with it.

5. What have you learned about yourself as a WoMo?

Ha! Kids hone your multi-tasking skills

6. If you had a working mother’s anthem or mantra, what would it be?

Stay positive

7. What is your guilty pleasure to combat WoMo guilt the best?

I don’t have WoMo guilt… because you’re setting a good example to your children - boys and girls - that you can do both.

8. Would you rather be dealing with a tantrum or presenting in a board meeting?

Presenting at a board meeting.

9. If you asked your children what your job is, what would they say?

‘She does lots of coding and teaches children how to code,’ Ocean aged 8

10. What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before you became a WoMo?

It would have been nice to have known when I first became pregnant (and was a bit worried about my career plans) that I would be able to combine motherhood and my ambitions.

11. To date, what has been your best WoMo achievement?

Having a baby whilst keeping my new company going

12. What do you want to teach your kids about working mothers?

I don’t teach my children about working mothers - but I do believe in leading by example - I think it’s important for them to see how important entrepreneurship is for the future and I will always encourage them to follow their dreams.

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Hello Mridula, tell us a bit about yourself. What do you do, how old are your children and what happens with your kids when you are at work?

Last year I founded Peppy with my co-founders, Max and Evan. We help employers to support their employees when they go through a major transition in their life, such as becoming new parents. Peppy enables people to find the right health support for their families, supported by their employer. I have two kids, who are of preschool age. They go to a local nursery and have a nanny when I'm at work. We're also lucky to live in London where we have lots of friends and family around.

1. One word to describe how being a WoMo makes you feel?

Streeeetched. But also exhilarated, to be doing the work I do.

2. What’s the funniest experience you have had juggling kids and work?

In my previous job I ran a business unit at Sandoz, a pharma company and it was 'Bring your child to work' day. We were in the midst of our biggest product launch of the year. The older kids were away doing activities, but I had my six month old baby bouncing on my lap in the launch meeting as we were discussing negotiation tactics with our distributors. And then I did a very messy nappy change in the glass-walled conference room just as all my team were walking past.

Oh, and I regularly spill a mix of stickers, cartoon plasters, glittery hair clips and grotty tissues from my coat pocket/ handbag when I reach for something. Usually in front of clients or investors.

3. What is the one piece of advice you could offer another WoMo?

Take time to develop great colleagues, friends and mentors. It's so important to have people around you who believe in you, because there are inevitably times where you get overwhelmed and doubt yourself.

4. What’s the least amount of sleep you’ve gone to work on and how did you cope?

Probably four hours... that's my absolute, absolute minimum now, although I’ve done less when I was at McKinsey and MIT. It takes a LOT of coffee, sugar and pinching myself to get through the day. I find it helps if I don't have to sit still in meetings but try and walk around, stand up, or at least find a bit of time to stretch in the loos.

5. What have you learned about yourself as a WoMo?

I've found being a working mother very empowering, which I had not anticipated beforehand. Impostor syndrome is a real thing and being a parent makes me feel grown up.

6. If you had a working mother’s anthem or mantra, what would it be?

Enjoy the moment. Remember things will change, so relish it, even when it's manic and exhausting. For me, there are so many funny and sweet moments that make it exhilarating, both at home with my family, and in these early days of Peppy.

7. What is your guilty pleasure to combat WoMo guilt the best?

If I have to do a work trip away, I take the kids to our local bakery for breakfast before I leave.

8. Would you rather be dealing with a tantrum or presenting in a board meeting?

Presenting at a board meeting. Without a doubt.

9. If you asked your children what your job is, what would they say?

'Mummy goes to her office and does number work and letter work with her friends, Max and Evan (my co-founders at Peppy)". Which is true!

10. What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before you became a WoMo?

Don't try and please everyone, because you can't. There are only 24 hours in the day between work, kids, partner and the other people/ commitments in your life. And your kids will never have enough of you, regardless of what choice you make, so you just have to live with that.

11. To date, what has been your best WoMo achievement?

Starting Peppy. It was a huge leap of faith, as I was still discovering what it meant to be a working mother of two tiny children. It took a lot of belief in myself and in my co-founders, and a lot of support from my husband and family. So far, the journey has been amazing. Peppy just went live and we recently announced our partnership with the NCT. It's wonderful to hear from the parents-to-be/ new parents that we are helping. I'm also so grateful to all the people who continue to support us, either on our advisory board, or as investors, or friends.

12. What do you want to teach your kids about working mothers?

I want my kids to live life fully. I believe that means having a multitude of relationships and things you feel passionately about. These might be having an exciting career, raising kids, having a partner, earning money, caring for a sick family member or hobbies. The priorities will change over time, but it's never healthy to focus exclusively on one thing for too long. Especially as a working mother, you're forced to come face to face with that reality. I also believe that working fatherhood is going through a huge shift (which is why Peppy is also for dads!). So hopefully things will be different for the next generation.

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Today I attended the launch of Sistr, an app for women to support women. Sistr is the brain child of Emma Sayle, a very dear friend of mine. As you may have seen, I’ve been part of a merry tribe of girls (The Sisterhood) for many years now. We support one another, push one another and make stuff happen.

There are regularly moments when one of this wide network of women needs some help. There is no judgement, there is no criticism and there is no stupid questions. Women can be unkind to one another, we all know it, but in this tribe, its just not the way it works. This support and enthusiasm to push each other to be the best version of themselves is part of the inspiration of casting the net wider and creating an official forum for exactly that; women empowering women.

Today at the launch party Sophie Jarvis, Journalist for the Evening Standard, hosted a panel of women talking about passion, grit and how women can help each other. We’ve interviewed a couple in meet the WoMos, you an click and read more about their WoMo life.

  • Helen Skelton, TV Presenter and Sport mad lady of adventure.

  • Sarah Lindsay, Triple Olympian, PT and Co-Founder of ROAR

  • Vanessa Moulton, Leading Psychologist

  • Chemmy Alcott, Quadruple Olympian, Presenter and Business Woman

  • And of course Emma Sayle, the Founder.

The discussion on impostor syndrome came up during the panel chats and what I found fascinating is that 70% of men AND women suffer from impostor syndrome but it’s the women who let it hold them back.

Focusing on your passion is important and makes you happy! Being able to shut out the background noise and criticism of others makes a big difference. Chemmy, who has recently had a baby said she has now learned to ask for help, and it has given her more confidence. There is no shame in asking for help.

Networks help you reach out and ask for help which has been a key learning for me in the world of the Sisterhood. Helen said ‘it has never been a better time to be a woman’ and I think she is right! We are getting braver, we are speaking up and we are pushing on with our ambition. Make decisions that work for you and help you follow your dreams.

And just to finish, I loved this quote from Chemmy: Either I win or I learn. There is no losing.So true!

Get signed up to Sistr here and be part of the growing team of women supporting women.

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Thanks so much to Lydia Fenet who features in Meet The WoMos. She is Global Head of Strategic Partnerships and lead benefit auctioneer for Christie’s Auction House, and author of The Most Powerful Woman in the Room is You.

I started reading Lydia’s book, Ok, thats not true, I have been listening to it. I am probably way behind the trend here, but I find an audio book great when on the tube, on a flight or in the car. I still love the feel of a real book in my hand and seem to mix it up between listening and turning the pages, and it works for me! Listening when on the move (one less thing to carry) and reading when at home. But that isn’t what this blog is about.

Lydia’s book is awesome. PLEASE READ IT (or listen!) It’s such a good book for women everywhere to help them remember how to have the right kind of impact with the right kind of attitude. Basic reminders about being positive, moving through a problem and owning your journey. I remember many years ago in my career I had a 360 review from my team and one of the comments said ‘never go to Elizabeth with a problem unless you have a solution’. It popped back into my mind when listening to Lydia talk about how you want to behave in the right way to move your career forward. The boss doesn’t want to know about the drama or the problems. The boss wants to see you as the person presenting a solution. It doesn’t matter how much something may have peed you off, rise above it, maintain your professionalism and find a solution.

If you are the most powerful woman in the room, you can achieve great things. How you see yourself, how you present yourself and the goals you set yourself and then strive to fulfil, are the reasons that woman will look up to you. Lydia talks about gaining respect from people you admire, as they will see themselves in you. You may not know where your path will lead but have the dreams. It’s really good advice.

‘Your time is now’ is the title of one of her chapters, and it should resonate for everyone. if you are procrastinating, debating, overthinking and wondering if now is the moment - It is. We all have that voice inside (also described by some as the monkey on the shoulder) and Lydia talks about how to talk to your monkey. Some top tips! Lydia talks about negotiating too. As women. we are more nervous than men when it comes to asking for a pay rise. If you want some help on that subject alone this book will help. A perfectly good reason to to read it and learn more about enhancing your own financial wellness.

I have loved her book and have recommended it to many women in my network. Lydia talks about reaching out to people in your network, and being brave. Don’t second guess it, just do it. So I asked Lydia to feature in Meet the WoMos, and you can read it here.
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Hi Lydia, tell us a bit about yourself. What do you do, how old are your children and what happens with your kids when you are at work?

I am the Global Head of Strategic Partnerships and lead benefit auctioneer for Christie’s Auction House, and author of The Most Powerful Woman in the Room is You. I have three children – 6, 4, & 2. My husband and I drop our two oldest children off in the morning at school and our little one stays with our nanny during the day. Every afternoon is a little different with after school activities and pick up.

1. One word to describe how being a WoMo makes you feel?

Being a WoMo makes me feel fulfilled. I love being a mother to my three children, and I also love having a job that is interesting and dynamic.

2. What’s the funniest experience you have had juggling kids and work?

Where do I begin? Every day has so many laughable moments - I really try to take it all in stride and keep a sense of humor even when things inevitably go wrong. Recently I was taking my daughter to school when she mentioned that she didn’t think she had school that day. It was a Tuesday in the middle of October so there was no reason that she wouldn’t have school. Right? I should mention that she is in kindergarten so there is a fine line between truth and wishful thinking. When we walked up to the school it was clear that we were the only ones there. As we turned to walk away, the head of school walked up behind us and smiled sympathetically “we have teacher training today” to which my daughter responded, “I told her and told her but she just didn’t listen”.

3. What is the one piece of advice you could offer another WoMo?

Stop thinking about what you are not doing, and give yourself credit for everything you are doing.

4. What’s the least amount of sleep you’ve gone to work on and how did you cope?

I wasn’t a great sleeper when I was a child. I learned not to worry about sleep; that I would eventually fall asleep whenever I was tired. I know the hardest part about having babies for a lot of people is the lack of sleep, but I just tried not focus on it. There were definitely days when I had 2 or 3 hours of sleep – either when the babies were little or someone was sick, but I just reminded myself that if I was tired I could always sleep that night. I also believe that naps are crucial during those early days with the baby so on the weekends I would make sure to take a nap in the middle of the day whenever the baby went down for a nap.

5. What have you learned about yourself as a WoMo?

I am a best WoMo when I am prepared – when I have oversight into what is coming in the weeks ahead for work and my kid’s lives. The logistics of managing a work schedule, our home schedule, our home life and the school schedule can be completely overwhelming so I try to give myself a solid hour or two before the start of a week to make sure that I am on top of everything, and set myself up for success.

6. If you had a working mother’s anthem or mantra, what would it be?

Just take it one day at a time, and reach out to your friends whenever you need help – both physical and mental. My friends are my greatest resource and I seek their advice, guidance and opinions all of the time. I know that everyone thinks that they have to do it on their own, but it is a lot more fun if you are all in it together.

7. What is your guilty pleasure to combat WoMo guilt the best?

Spending time with my friends. I surround myself with positive, inspiring friends and lean on them when I need help.

8. Would you rather be dealing with a tantrum or presenting in a board meeting?

If you had asked me with my first child, I would say board meeting. But now that I have my third child, tantrums are just part of the job of being a mom as much as giving a presentation is part of my job at work. Neither bother me, though one tends to involve less tears and yelling (not always).

9. If you asked your children what your job is, what would they say?

“Mommy wrote a book. It’s pink. Mommy is an auctioneer. She bangs down her gavel”

10. What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before you became a WoMo?

I wish I had the perspective on parenting with my first child that I have with my third child. Don’t sweat the small stuff, give yourself a break. If they are walking around in a mismatched pair of socks and a tutu just let them do it. I was boarding a flight by myself with all three kids when my little one was only four months old. All three kids were crying as I was trying to get the overhead luggage into the bin. A flight attendant came up to me, kindly helped me with bag and said “I have three kids too – they are grown. I promise that it gets easier. No day will ever be as hard as today”. Whenever I am having a tough day where it feels overwhelming I repeat that mantra over and over.

11. To date, what has been your best WoMo achievement?

Writing a book while working a full-time job and raising three children. It might be hard to top!

12. What do you want to teach your kids about working mothers?

I want to show them that they have the choice to do whatever they want in life. If they can dream it, they can do it.

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Thank you to our guest blogger for this insight into the benefits of growing up with some old school fresh air! Good timing as the weather warms up :)

In an article for Bury Free Press, head teacher Andrew Hammond shared his opinion that the environment outside a child’s head has a significant impact on what goes on inside it. Hammond was a Cub Scout leader for many years, which is one of the reasons why he has always been keen to establish outdoor adventures in school programmes. “I know, first hand, of the benefits such activities can bring to children’s well-being and motivation,” he said. In his experience, he has seen many children develop teamwork, self-esteem, motivation, and imagination just by spending a few hours outdoors. He notes that children need the freedom to look at the world in a different way—after all, reimagining the world is what childhood is all about. “One never knows what you will find in the great outdoors if you look hard enough,” mentions Hammond. This is why playing outside is considered a vital part of a child's upbringing and must be encouraged by parents. Unfortunately, it is not a trend that is catching on.

The Herald Scotland reveals that the time children spend outdoors playing has been drastically reduced because of computer games and child safety. In fact, recent studies revealed that three-quarters of UK children spend less time outdoors than prison inmates. Scotland chief executive Celia Tennant says that children need to play outside. “They want to and they don’t care if it’s wet or windy or snowing. It is us, the adults, who do,” she said. “Children are stronger than we think and playing outside makes them tougher. They need exposure to the elements and they need to test themselves.”

Children are missing out on a lot of benefits when they do not spend enough time outdoors. For one, playing and learning outside helps them improve their wellbeing and resilience. Spending time outside also allows children to use nature to develop curiosity. Active play helps children understand how to resolve conflicts without any help from adults, not to mention develop grit and resilience that will help them to cope with future challenges.

It is not just schools that can use the outdoors as a classroom. Parents should also encourage outdoor activities as much as possible. The Huffington Post recommends making family walks a fun activity by including treasure hunts and playing games. Not only will this reduce the chance of them getting bored, it will also allow you to teach them skills like problem solving and teamwork. These types of activities should be for the whole family so it is worth investing time and money on making sure they get to spend enough time outdoors.

It’s important to start them young, too. Getting plenty of sunshine and fresh air is good for you and your children no matter how recently they were born. Being outdoors amidst numerous sights, sounds, and smells at an early age provides your baby with valuable learning experiences and early stimulation, which gives them a good base when they finally start school.

A study by students at the University of Cyprus entitled ‘The Importance of Taking Infants and Toddlers Outdoors’ examines how “outdoor experiential learning also promotes early language development”. A sensory experience can help a toddler develop their language skills. Babies also get psychological benefits from being outdoors, as watching others can be the first step in their social development. Even the type of pushchair their parents use is important. A study on the psychological benefits of pushchairs by the University of Dundee found that “babies were less likely to sleep, laugh or interact with their parents if they were facing away from them.” However, babies that were facing forward were found to have an elevated heart beat because they were more excited by everything they could see going on around them. iCandy explain how modern pushchairs are designed for all types of surfaces including grass, which gives parents more options to chose from when deciding where to take their children on outdoor trips. The bottom line though is that outdoor exposure is very important for the psychological development of young children. As this article shows it doesn’t matter if your children are babies or in primary school, they need to be encouraged or taken outside more often.

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