Monday, April 4, 2011

Free-Range Kids

I just finished the book Free-Range Kids and I have to say, it's pretty genius! The concept of trusting your kids to play right outside the house while you read a book or work on something inside is something I wanted to be able to do but couldn't wrap my head around. I wanted to trust Jack enough to let him play close by 'unsupervised' but society says I shouldn't do it because it would make me a bad mother. This book spoke to me about how and why we could trust our kids. Empowering them doesn't mean we're endangering them (this is so obvious to say but to actually say "Hey, 3-year-old recently-toddler baby of mine, go forth and play. I trust you not to run away, or somehow get hurt while not under my constant vigilant supervision." That's a whole other thing.

As I type this Jack is playing in the sandbox outside and I'm sitting on the couch inside while Henry plays. I can hear Jack, occasionally I'll poke my head out to see that he's there but I'm not actively watching him. We talked about staying close to the house, coming when he's called and staying AWAY from the storm drain (I mean, hello! Did we learn nothing from baby Jessica!)

This is great because Jack is happy to get some time in his sand box. Henry is happy to play without being harassed. And I'm happy because they're happy.

Bigger than that- this is another thing I felt like I had to wait for. When we were trying to sell our house I felt like I couldn't learn to use my sewing machine because I needed a craft room to use it. I couldn't put Henry in cloth, I couldn't make preserves, I couldn't line-dry our clothes because we needed a house not a townhouse to do all those things. Also on the list was let Jack play. I clearly needed a fenced yard in order to let Jack (and eventually Henry) play outside. I'd be a derelict if I let him play outside unconfined.

Not so!
Henry showing off his prototype diaper. I'll make a few changes to the design but over all I'd call it a success!


emk said...

Good for you! You have such a great open space behind your place-- glad you're making use of it!

Kristin from our growing garden said...

I can't say I agree. I am WAY too nervous to let James play by himself (in the future of course). I have heard too many stories of kids drowning in a gulley (like you mentioned) or getting hurt some other way. I was a free range kid and I was BAD. I played in a creek, walked on busy roads, etc I think you can never be too careful!

melaniet42 said...

SUCH a timely post! We've been experimenting with letting Jillian play outside by herself for periods of time. Our back yard is fenced, but kind of a mess (as in, some not super kid friendly stuff out there). And the gate doesn't close right, so she can wander out... She's really been doing a great job with very specific boundaries. Now, I'm not going to lay down and take a nap while she's out there, but it's very liberating to be able to give her some time to get out and play!

Nathan and Aimee said...

I would really like to read that book now. We do let all but our youngest go out and play, but I am much more apt to check on them a hundred times than my husband. I think it's so good for them to play without aomeone standing over them, but it's not very relaxing for me! I think it's a little easier with 4 kids though, because I know if someone does something wrong, one of the others is bound to tattle!

Emily said...

We live in a little neighborhood with lots of kids ages 5 and under- so when we let the kids go off together we can count on regular reports. With only one old enough to play unsupervised we're not there yet. Tattling is certainly annoying but sometimes it's quite convenient!

Emily said...

only one *of our own*