Playing outside seems like a flashback to the days of old. School is out for summer, what better time to reminisce on the days of our childhood? Remember those days of playing red light, green light stop in the dark as the lightning bugs buzzed around? However, our children are so accustomed to staying inside and entertaining themselves by playing video games, television and the internet. Why not teach your children some new games this summer- games that require the movement of limbs and breathing in fresh air?

Bubble gum, bubble gum in the dish……how many pieces do you wish? Police lady, police lady do your duty ‘cause here comes the lady with the African booty. She can wiggle, she can wobble, she can do a split but I bet you $5 she can’t do this………!

I know that you were singing some of those songs in your head as you were reading this. I can truly say that I miss the days of playing outside, don’t you? I remember coming home from school with my homework done because I was anxious to go outside. My mother or father would check my work and then turn to me with direct eye contact and say “You better watch for cars. Don’t be out there acting a fool.” AND (most importantly) Be home before the streetlights come on!” I knew without a shadow of a doubt, that if I ignored any of those directions, there would be trouble. Once outside with my friends, we huddled up. We would choose a ‘base’ and then we all placed our foot in a circle as we counted off to see who was ‘it’. My oh my! Those were the days.

I am a mother of 3 girls and 2 boys and I watch as my kids like to spend their free time home from school on tablets, phones and Xbox. When told to go outside and play, we get the response “There is nothing to do outside” or “I don’t want to go outside”. I found myself (as old as I am) outside with the dog either jump roping or hula hooping by myself. I was upset that I came to realization that social media has replaced ‘outside’!

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Life Lessons Through Playing

Over the years, I can look back and say ‘outside’ has taught me a lot of things that makes me the woman who I am today. I learned socialization,real socialization without a phone in my hand. In addition, I learned respect-when the elders say “get out the street” or “stop climbing that tree before you hurt yourself”, I listened because there was a neighborhood bond, unity,community- A VILLAGE! ‘Outside’ taught me things that I never knew that I was learning through the games that I was playing such as:

Hide and go seek- Taught patience

Hop Scotch/ hula hoop- Perseverance (both of those for me took patience and time before mastering)

Jump rope/ double dutch- Goal setting and reaching/

Jacks- Working under pressure

Mother May I/ Simon Says- Following directions

There were a lot of games and lessons learned. I have to make it my business to ensure that my children don’t miss out on those things. Those things are what create community and foster an environment of togetherness. Something as simple as playing ‘outside’ can be passed down as a trait of unification. Let’s get back to the days of street lights and ‘Allie Allie All Come FREE’. Our children are in need of it, our community is in need of it. Let’s get back outside!

Keira Haywood is the mother of five beautiful children- two boys and three girls. With the many stereotypes and misconceptions about motherhood she was scared to even take advice or to reach out for help. This was the first mistake that she made as a parent. Scared to bring the pettiness of my issues to my parents, she decided to ‘attempt’ modeling parenthood from her mother and father. With a little trial and a lot of error throughout life she realized that talking to people with the same/ similar issues made parenting a little easier. This was the inspiration for the creation her parenting site, This Is the Village.