I’ve been sent over the details of a survey that’s been completed asking people what were the very best things about being a child 50 or so years ago, and it’s been really interesting reading the results and then reflecting upon my childhood and the differences that I can already see in my children’s.
The survey was carried out on behalf of McCarthy and Stone and asked 2000 people over the age of 65 fifteen questions about their childhood. Topping the survey was ‘Playing Outside Until It Got Dark’, followed by ‘Having Respect For Your Elders’ which I suspect is more a commentary from an older generation on their views of today’s youth, then ‘Knowing All Your Neighbours’ and ‘Sweets Costing a Penny’. That last one made me smile as we could still but penny sweets in the eighties, so when did they get so expensive?! Along with these overriding views, were a few favourite activities, such as making dens, climbing trees, playing hide and seek, playing conkers and playing hopscotch. Just over 40% of people mentioned reading Enid Blyton books and owning toys and playing them for hours, all nostalgic happy glances back on childhood.
This would be a reflection on my parents’ childhood, so I ran it by my mum and she was nodding along to so much of it. It took her right back! We then chatted about my childhood and it was funny that so many of the answers did overlap. Oh yes, I still have my St Clare’s books to this day (ready and waiting for my daughter to read them) and we played all of those things when we were little. Though I’m sure we had a fair few toys, looking back it’s a handful that stand out to me, such as Lego, Sindy, Star Wars and My Little Pony. Where I noticed the differences were in the fact that I felt we had less freedom to get out and play than the generation before us, as I remember more time being spent with family when out or being in the home. My mum spoke of the front door being permanently unlocked and the kids all spending their days out the front playing when she was a girl, which I think had shifted by the time I was that age.
Moving to look at the list from my kids’ point of view and things do look different. No more penny sweets for them! I think we lead more private lives these days, yet probably connect more online, which is a paradox and likely inconceivable fifty years ago. My kids don’t play out until dark and don’t know many of our neighbours, but then we live on a busy road in a time where practically everyone owns a car, unlike fifty years ago. As to the activities, I’m pleased to say that my children have enjoyed all of those, despite the health and safety fears over playing conkers! Whether they’ll look back in fifty years and pick those activities out as their favourites remains to be seen, but I suspect that screens will feature more in this generation’s memories, from movie nights to favourite TV shows to games consoles. As my kids get older, I think social media and the internet will sneak in, too, but I would like to think that things like reading, having outdoor adventures and playing with toys all stay firmly on children’s agendas. Time will tell, I suppose…
What were the very best things about your childhood?
Disclosure: This is a collaborative post