I let my kids play outside. Without me hovering over them every second. Yep, that's right. They play outside unsupervised (GASP!). I'm sure many people think I'm crazy for doing so, but I honestly don't think it's necessary to supervise kids every second they are outside.
I have heard many comments by many Moms since I've had kids about how they don't let their children play outside unless they are out there with them, especially in the front yard. I think this is absurd unless your kids are really little or maybe you live on a very busy main street. What is the danger, really?
People appear to be afraid of strangers and kidnappings, and the media has created a culture of fear in that department. People have a huge amount of information coming to them through more outlets than ever before - radio, T.V., phones, e-mail, newspaper, e-news, i-pad, etc. It is easier than ever to access information and it seems that all the news outlets, especially online, LOVE to share gruesome stories of death, maulings, rapes, robberies, abuse, kidnappings, and rarely does one see a long list of happy stories. And so we are brains are filled to the brim with stories that create large amounts of fear in us, especially as parents.
The crime rate has actually gone down in recent years, yet it seems like we hear more about crime. As a parent, I want to protect my kids, but part of that means teaching them what to do in certain situations just like my parents taught me. I don't think that hovering over my kids while they are playing outside is the answer.
We are fairly lucky to live in a cul-de-sac, but there is a pretty busy street on the end of it. My older two (5 and 4) know to stay on the sidewalk and I even let them ride their big wheels all the way to the end of the cul-de-sac. And, I encourage them to go outside and play without me. They know to let me know where they will be and I do check occasionally on them through the window. But, I just can't sit outside with them every minute. Usually I am cooking dinner or dealing with the baby. But, I also let the baby outside (she's 18 months old), and the kids know to keep her in the backyard and let me know asap if she's escaping down the driveway.
In my opinion, it is important to give the kids some freedom to play and explore as well as deal with conflicts among themselves without me around, as long as they know the rules. They need to gain confidence and have fun without a hovering mother around telling them to be careful or to not get dirty. Kids learn from play, and they must be able to have freedom to actually play. And a little fresh air and dirt is good for everyone.
So, I let my kids play outside. In fact, I make them play outside. The other day they ran to the end of the cul-de-sac and played with some neighbor kids and I rejoiced a little because they are making neighborhood friends. And, some of the best times I had as a kid was playing outside with all the kids in the neighborhood. Without my Mom hovering. But I always knew she was near if I needed her, and my kids know the same. And so I'll continue to shove my kids out the door to play and not blink an eye. I encourage you to do the same.