Letting go and letting the Children play outside 18

MadDad had an idyllic and pretty independent childhood.  It was very Enid Blyton, well it would be he lived and grew up on a farm and spent most of the summer holidays returning home only to eat and sleep.  I grew up with a pretty similar upbringing.  We would venture out on our bikes to the nature reserve, the allotment, park or the beach.  I loved it and when I was small we were allowed in certian peoples houses and the back alley.

One of our reasons for returning to our native North East was the fact that we wanted to give our boys a taste of the freedom we grew up with.  Now before anyone starts with the kiddie fidlers and all that.  I am a firm believer that there were such people when I was growing up and I distinctly remember being flashed at the local park, however, I also believe that there are not more of them nowadays, just that we are more aware of the dangers.

However, that doesn’t mean that I have found it easy to cut the apron strings and allow my boys more freedom, but I have and I and I do within set limts.  Mini has been allowed greater freedom at his age than Maxi on the understanding that the two of them stick together and that they let me know where they are going.

We are very lucky in the fact that we live on an estate on the edge of a village with a couple of greens that the local children congregate on and also helped by the fact that the estate is fiilled with children.

I have also taken a few steps to make things safer and also make me feel better.

      • Maxi always wears his watch and we have a firm time for coming home.  If they are late, they have to come home earlier next time.
      • I bought a set of walkie talkies (Binatone ones from Argos) and they take one with them and leave me the other, ewhich means we can be in constant contact, we even have our own call signs.  The one they gave me is pink balloon.
      • They have to wear their helmets when on their bikes and also preferably when on their scooters too, which is why we bought them cool skate helmets that they don’t mind wearing.
      • We have set boundaries on the estate, no going to the bus stop or the woods unless accompanied by an adult.
      • They take drinks out with them and come home when they need a drink.
      • We have discussed who safe strangers are.  They know they are not to speak to adults that they do not know.
      • I text one of the mums if her boys are playing in my garden and she does the same for me.
      • I have drilled in to them about road safety and I keep on telling them about it.  A local child died a couple of weeks ago whilst crossing a road on his scooter.  I made sure that I discussed this with the boys, not to frighten them per say, but to try and make them aware that their actions have consequences and ensure they understand the importance of wearing helmets and crossing the road safely.

I think it also helps that a lot of the mums feel the same way as me and a number of both Mini and Maxi’s class mates are given the same freedoms and it is great to hear them come home and tell tales of catching crickets on the field and playing cricket on the green.

What do you do about allowing your children to play outside?

This blog post is sponsored by  Giraffe Childcare

18 thoughts on “Letting go and letting the Children play outside

  • Jude

    It’s great that you’re able to allow your kids out and about on their own. So much depends upon how responsible the children are themselves, and also where you live. Unfortunately for us it just isn’t an option where we live, within 200 yds of a motorway, and right by a deep river. Also my elder son, though 7 now, is a very young 7 and still can’t be trusted to cross the road properly, let alone tell the time or look after his possessions. It’s one of the reasons we want to move too….

    • Mum in the Madhouse

      Jude » I can understand you wanting to move Jude. It is one of the big things for me and MadDad and the boys have their moments and do push boundaries, but then they learn that there actions have consequences without the worry of a motorway or deep river

  • mum of all trades

    We are so lucky here in Ireland. Apart from the city areas, the majority of children still have the freedom to play and roam about. The only danger I usually worried about was thee road. But where we live now is much safer as there is little or no traffic.

  • Cass@frugalfamily

    Mine play out all the time and I try and give them as much freedom as I can, you know what my street’s like with a busy ish road so they tend to play in the streets around the back of our house which are like a series of cul de sacs where most of their friends live.

    I send them out with a stopwatch (it’s huge – I blogged about it a while ago lol) as they are useless with their watches and they come home whenever the stop watch gets to a certain time and the time is set depending on what they’re doing – if they’re in friends houses they get longer than if they are playing in the street.

    I admit that I worry about them while they’re out but I’m getting better and I wouldn’t want them to know that I worry about them – I want them to feel as safe and secure as I did when I was growing up.

  • Emma

    Chick isn’t allowed out to play in our street at all as we live on a busy road between two drug dealing estates (nice, I know!!) but when she stays with either of her best friends she has a similar freedom to that which you describe for Maxi & Mini, purely because they live on less busy roads and she has someone to be outside with.

  • Susan Mann

    I hope to give my two the freedom you give Mini and Maxi and that I had as a child. I feel they are still too wee at 2 and 4 but once Lucas is at school things may change. I love the Walkie Talkie idea and will definitely be investing in those. x

  • Super Amazing Mum

    I am in total agreement with you that we are more aware of the paedos than ever before and not that there are more. We certainly knew that a man who lived with his mum on our street was weird and avoided him.

    We live on a busy street with a corner shop – I have just started to allow DS1 who is nearly 8 the freedom to go up the shop on errands. He is responsible and streetwise. Our neighbour positively gave me a lecture saying she would never let her 10 year old do it and that I was taking risks. We live in London BTW.

    I also have started to let DS1 freedom on his bike, if we all go to the park I let him ride around circuit which is massive but he is always in my line of vision – he LOVES that freedom.

    I think it’s lovely that your boys can do that! How old are they BTW?

    • Mum in the Madhouse

      Super Amazing Mum » My boys are 5 and 6. We wouldnt do it if we still lived down South.

  • Lucy at Dear Beautiful Boy

    I agree wholeheartedly with everything you say. I don’t think the world is any more dangerous now for children than it has ever been. We have been made more aware of the risks that are out there and in many ways this possibly makes children safer. Technology, such as your walkie talkies and mobile phones make children more connected with home than they used to be.
    I really think it’s important that children get this freedom and that we teach them about risks. Children need to be able to take risks and learn boundaries in order to grow up well rounded. Otherwise all that happens is they go into a grown up world ill prepared for all that that brings.
    A really great, thought-provoking post. Thank-you. x

  • Tracy

    Well done u, it sounds like you have been very thorough and upfront with your children. It is really hard, letting go but keeping them safe, but like you, I have made my girls very aware, boundaries are in place, together the are allowed a little more freedom but it is still really difficult at times. Great blog.

  • Rebecca

    Interesting post – and definitely food for thought. A member of my family still drives her 12 and 13 year old to school saying that they have no road sense – I don’t think you can learn it unless you are given freedom. I am still pretty worried about the roads though – my husband was knocked off his bike recently and it has made me much more cautious.

    Think your ideas for how to make them safer are great – especially the walkie talkies – I bet they love them

    • Mum in the Madhouse

      Rebecca » They do love the walkie talkies. I was so worried about road safety, but the boys have to learn and we learn though practice and I started teaching them road sence from before they could walk.

  • Nat

    I grew up free too. I wouldn’t allow my children to do what you do, I/we are paranoid. a few bad things happened to me as a child and I really wouldn’t forgive myself if it happened to mine, this was the early 80’s in a small village in Devon.

    My kids are to young anyway, but the door is always open to the gardena & they go in and out freely and play but I’m always listening and most of the time watching if I am not with them.

    • Mum in the Madhouse

      Nat » I was pretty lucky in the fact that I only had the one incident as a child and this was one of our main parenting focus’. Up until April this year they were only allowed in the garden. They play in groups with their friends and I am a believer in safety in numbers

  • treatingeachdayasanewdayrs everyday

    Hi my kids used to play in the back garden a lot when younger. We lived right on a main road(pleased to say now we dont). Now my son plays out a lot I know he is older now so he meets up with other local children the scooter brigade!
    Yes I think we are more aware of things nowadays then we were back then. I know when my son was at junior school and a man ran through the playground naked (he was arrested). I met my son after school and he was maybe yr 4 and he came running up to me and said ” mummy a man ran through the playground and I saw his wotnot”. he found it most amusing but equally a lot of the kids were really crying and distraught and needed consoling. I think as long as kids are made aware of dangers and what not to do.
    I always say to my son before he goes out have you got your phone?, have you got your key?, do not talk to anyone wearing pink glittery boots( a certain glitter!). If anyone wants to show you there puppies, he says “what about kittens!”.I make him aware of the dangers but also in a humourous way. He listens more to it that way and knows the drill. rather than me spouting off a sermon where his eyes would just glaze over and go yeah yeah x

  • Jo

    I love your post, this is the thing that puts the fear of God in me. My two year old is desperate to go out, we have a park right opposite our house which he can see the other kids playing on. Other kids have roamed the streets from a very young age, but I wouldn’t let him out on his own yet – He is too little road sense, but we live in a street that is a homezone but people don’t really respect it.

    What age did you start to let them out on their own?

    I too was given full freedom (with boundaries) and I know what you mean about dodgy people, there were plenty about when we were small, are awareness is just greater now!

    • Mum in the Madhouse

      Jo » We only really started letting them out at Easter when they were 4 and 6. Mini has got more freedom as Maxi is so close in age. I have to admit I scared them regarding roads and for a long time went out with them to make sure they crossed it safely.

  • O.

    I have 2 boys 5 and 8, we used to live in cornwall and from the age of 4 my eldest was allowed a steady increase in freedom. Now we live in a middle class village 4 miles from the city of cambridge. I have had people comment on their safety, even the headteacher has advised me against it. I am unsure on the legalities. Is there a legal age for this? I feel super sad that our society has come to this amount of para noia and anxiety even in a relatively quiet and with the potential of being friendly, village.

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