I have seen in Kathmandu barren pieces of lands. I have seen them being empty most of the times. Kathmandu valley has six seasons, it is the most dynamic place in terms of weather. Summer is not too hot, winter during the days are so pleasant, rainy seasons splash can make the humid air more fun, still, I do not see any kids playing outside freely. We have believed always in communal living, we understand the need to socialisation. We have understood that neighbours are the greatest assets one could possess. There is a saying also in Nepali ‘chimeki vaneko parda ko janti marda ko malami’. It simply means neighbours participate with us in our happiest moments- weddings and the saddest ones- cremation. Till this generation, we still see the connectedness, in most of the places in the city. There is some level of communication though everybody in the city is busy nowadays. We still manage to socialise by going to restaurants, meeting in shopping malls, movie theatres, guys going for futsal, ladies marching towards the spas. We are intelligent and we know how to manage our needs with the changing times.
But then, what about our kids? Do they get to fulfil their needs? Do they get enough space and time to grow? Of course, we are sending them to the best schools that we can afford to, we are buying them what they want, we are taking them also to the movies, we take them to the fun play spaces inside the malls and pay a lot for it, we buy them lots of toys which assist their cognitive development, and the list goes on.
Hold on! Stop! Please! One thing you could do best for your child is not doing anything at all. Let them just be and grow!
In this scheduled world, children are losing their freedom. And this is the most important ingredient for their wellbeing. Let them freely play, understand themselves, don’t interrupt when they have a conflict with each other, let them solve it by themselves, they are capable of doing it. Let them observe nature and understand the change that is happening in nature. Let them explore and learn by themselves. Free play is what they need every day. For this, it is very important to develop the concept of parks and play area for children where they can explore their creativity. Let the empty piece of land become their retreat. Let them engage in various activities mastered by themselves while you witness how intense their thinking can get once you let them just be.
These spaces where children find maximum freedom and play is where their creativity expands and their physical needs are fulfilled as well. These spaces not only serve the children but all the people from the area or locality can enjoy such places and we could get back the neighbourhood that once existed within us. Wherever in your neighbourhood, you find a public area, empty, try to talk to the local governing body of that area, develop them as parks and playgrounds. If you have these spaces in between your communities, children can themselves go and play there. Put some night lights there so that they feel safe and you feel comfortable letting your child play there. It is not good when you have to take your child in your car some miles away from your home so that they can play. Let their homes be their play area, let their neighbourhood be their play area.
Let them belong and let them explore! They need this to become a creative and responsible human being in the future.