Time outdoors and toilet paper…a post Covid19 dream

First it was toilet paper….people started hoarding, the shelves were bare, supermarket staff were abused. To put it bluntly we all went a bit loopy. ScoMo had to get firm and tell us to “Stop It! Just stop it!”. An item that has always been available to us and its importance in our lives often overlooked, was suddenly front of mind and a sought after commodity. Gradually over time, with some guidance about how much toilet paper is an appropriate amount to buy, supply caught up with demand and the shelves were again stocked. Despite things returning to normal on the toilet paper front, we all continue to be more aware of how much toilet paper we have in the cupboards at home, just how much is on the shelves at the supermarket in case it starts to run low again. And if we are honest, many of us have a plan about what to do if we do ever run out. It will be some time before the supply of toilet paper is taken for granted again.

And now, our time outdoors is limited. Just as when toilet paper was scarce, we are seeing the same trends emerging people are looking for any way they can to get outdoors. People who haven’t ridden a bike in years are riding. Walkers are walking further and faster than they ever did before. All sorts of gadgets are being dusted off to add some variety to our time outdoors – roller skates, skimboards, stand up paddle boards, canoes, skateboards, pogo sticks and unicycles. As with the toilet paper shortage, limited time outdoors has helped us to better appreciate something that has always been available to us and how important it is to us. The toilet paper scenario had us hoarding and we went a bit bonkers.In contrast, time outdoors, has also got us ‘hoarding’ BUT instead of sending us bonkers, it has us feeling invigorated, happy, and generally good.

This brings me to my post Covid19 dream: May we continue to appreciate, value, crave and make time for going outside every single day (& may we never have to fight over toilet paper again).

All of us intuitively know that we are missing and craving being out and about. Here’s some facts to back up what you’re feeling. Outdoor experiences:

  • promote healthier social behaviour and lessens social dysfunction
  • helps alleviate stress
  • improve resilience
  • promote optimal psychological functioning
  • improve recovery from physical trauma
  • have a health promoting role.

The benefits of being outdoors are undeniable, but in general, children today have less access to outdoor spaces than ever before in the history of humanity. This means they are missing out on all these benefits. Here’s some things we know about kids today:

  • in one generation there has been a huge decline in children’s play outdoors
  • the activity children are most likely to engage in outside of school is watching TV
  • less than 10% of children report playing in natural spaces on a regular basis
  • many children are vitamin D deficient (this is a world wide trend, including Australia)
  • children’s play spaces have changed from being primarily outdoors to indoors & has become increasingly supervised by adults
  • Children’s independent mobility in their neighbourhood is reduced compared to previous generations.

Toilet paper and time outdoors are an unlikely pair but the lessons in relation to both during the Covid19 event are the same. May we always appreciate their role in our lives and may we never forget the experience of being denied them. May our memories of Covid 19 and new found appreciation allow us always value cherish and make time for time outdoors (& TP).

Written by: Madeline Avci, Director Jump Up for Kids 25 April 2020

Madeline Avci is the Director of Jump Up For Kids and is a huge advocate of children balancing their time in front of screens with time playing outside where they ignite all of their senses. At work and through her own children, she sees the joy in children’s eyes as they rise up to meet the challenges that nature provides. Jump Up For Kids brings together over twenty years of Madeline’s experience in Occupational Therapy, teaching and parenting, to offer children and their families a ‘just right’ experience in a world that often feels hurried and stressed.

Jump Up For Kids combines expert knowledge of the demands of the modern world, the education system and child development to provide a service that advocates and promotes a common sense approach to raising children in the modern world.

Jump Up For Kids Occupational Therapists work alongside children, families, educators and industry leaders to help develop and promote the independence and resilience children and young people need to do the things they need to do each day and the things they want to do. Jump Up For Kids strives to maintain outstanding levels of service for our clients and strives to place itself at the forefront of Child Development within the Health, Education and Community Development industries.

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