HATS OFF TO BETTY: Simple things in life are glee

PUBLISHED: 12:34 20 July 2006 | UPDATED: 11:53 04 May 2010

Your monthly column from Betty Wilbraham

Your monthly column from Betty Wilbraham

THE SCHOOL holidays are upon us and what are we going to do with the children? It s a growing problem now that many mums have to go to work to make ends meet and keep up with the spiralling cost of living. But I do feel we have become afraid of letting ch

THE SCHOOL holidays are upon us and what are we going to do with the children?

It's a growing problem now that many mums have to go to work to make ends meet and keep up with the spiralling cost of living.

But I do feel we have become afraid of letting children play on their own for fear or what they might get up to.

Children are growing up too quickly, with no chance to be children. They are growing up in an unnatural situation. We were left to our own devices.

Now they don't invent their own games in the garden like we used to - they rely on computers, PlayStations and television.

When these are taken away they are bored or at a loose end.

In 1880, my mother and her sister at the age of 12 and 14 were sent away for the school holidays to a couple who ran a hotel on the Isle of Man.

They were from a family of 11 children and they worked hard but had a lot of free time to go to the seaside.

In the 1960s, our expectations of family holidays were very different to what they are today. We would go to relatives or friends and it would cost us our travel expenses and a contribution to the food bill.

It wasn't exciting by today's standards but it was exciting to us because it was a new place to stay.

We could buy a railway ticket for five shillings for adults or two shillings and six pence for under-14s, which allowed us unlimited travel within a given area. On Sunday, the ticket would allow for a special excursion to the coast.

We would spend hours playing cowboys and Indians or setting up shops. We played the simple games. Children don't do this any more.

They want to go to theme parks or take part in elaborate expensive activities.

When it comes to birthday parties it's easy for the parents to hand over a large sum of money and get someone else to give them a themed party complete with birthday tea, cake and party bag.

But what happened to parents coming up with their own ideas?

What a great impression Butlin's holiday camp made on us when it opened in Skegness.

Mums could take their children and everything was there for them. There was no longer a need to go to the seaside and supply money for Punch and Judy shows and other activities.

When it was wet during the holidays my mother would put newspaper on the kitchen table and we would paint. Now it's a case of 'Oh dear, what are we going to do with them today?'

We have lost the ability to enjoy our children just being children. We have lost the ability to create games for them.

Whatever happened to putting a big sheet over the table and making it into a tent?

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