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Play Like it’s the 80’s: Being born in 1973 means that I remember the 70’s and especially 1980’s well and fondly. Girls with big hair and crispy fringes, the Human League, Ronald Reagan & Maggie, Dallas and Dynasty. The list could go on but the fondest memories I have from the 80’s have all been based around play. What I mean by that is that back in the early to mid 80’s I used to go out with my friends on my BMX or play football and Cricket (all day), make rope swing down the canal, when I had 20p, go and get some penny sweets at the local newsagents. At the weekends and School holiday’s play last all day. As kids we just entertained ourselves and we just loved it! The main characteristic of this time was that by and large parents were not around to supervise all this play. Back then, it was considered normal that you went out played with your friends without parents present.

Fast forward 30 plus years and now that I’m a parent, would I at any stage be happy to let my child go out and play the way I used to. Not on your life……..absolutely no way. When I was about 8 years old we would build ramps for our BMX’s that when I look back with my now ‘Child Protection/Health & Safety’ view of the world all I think is “That was so bloody dangerous!” My heart starts to race at just the thought that we used to play ‘Knock Down Ginger’ or that no one had performed a ‘Risk Assessment’ when we would walk to the shops and buy our cola and milk bottles. I mean, who might have we bumped into, what if someone spoken to us? But as I’m sure many of you remember that was just the way it was or certainly in my world and for all the kids I knew in my part of North West London that I grew up in.

But when I stop thinking like a parent and start thinking like was a kid again all I remember was having fun. The type of fun we had was just so natural. Building a den in the wood was not only fun but although we didn’t know it we learnt how to work as a group, socialise and learnt to have fun with what upon reflection were very few recourses. At most a cheap football, cricket bat and tennis ball or trees. Most of the time that was it.

Once the late 80’s rolled round and I was the second year of teenagers to do GCSE’s I started to notice that kids weren’t playing out like they were just a few year previously. I notice that play was starting to become supervised, expensive, organised and no longer spontaneous or certainly not the way I remember it .i.e. you stopped seeing children play out on the streets or parks with just there friends. Now, I’m not sure what caused this. Is the world significantly more dangerous today that it was back in the 80’s? Probably not and as such I can’t put my finger on what caused this change in parenting where we now organised and supervised so much more of our children’s play and social time. And as suggested earlier, I am not immune to this new style of parenting. I do it also! But this post is not about the merits of different parenting styles and how they have changed over recent decades. It is firstly to remember with great fondness the way I and many other children used to play back in the early 80’s. It was like the world was our playground and we loved it. Whether we were playing at home or down the park playing football with our mates. So much of our environment was our playground!

It is my experience of the way that I played as a child that has been a big part of why we have develop Bounceagogo in the way that we have. Yes, Bounceagogo is a controlled environment. It is a large hall packed with loads of Soft Play equipment. But what we love about the way children play in Bounceagogo is that when they arrive with there parents/carers for the first time the kids throw off their shoes and just go for it. They really do play like nobody is watching. As the parents orientate themselves and take in the colour, shape and size of the room there is almost a realisation that there is nothing to stop them playing with their children. There is no defined café area nothing to separate the parents from the children. And that’s how we planned it. As a result parents play with their children and vice versa. To see this unfold in front of you really is a pleasure to behold. Children playing as they should and parents playing like the children they once were is brilliant to see and what Bounceagogo is all about. You got to love that……And remember always play like your a kid in the 80’s.

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