We all know that the days of letting kids out to run the streets and telling them to be back before dinner are long gone. It would be startling, to say the least, to see a roving pack of neighborhood kids kicking cans down the street and enticing a stray dog to come along for the ride. While we always say this shift is due to neurotic parents who are over-hyping the danger of allowing kids to be on their own, one blogger created a chart that shows the flaw in this simplistic explanation.
In fact, many factors go into this when it comes to how much outdoor time our kids are getting these days. From long commutes cutting into the evening prime "play time" hours to kids making friends outside of their neighborhoods, Rethinking Childhood lays out some pretty compelling reasons why we won't find our kids engaged in a game of stick ball in the street.
In my family, however, there is one more huge reason why we don't have a ton of outdoor playtime. Me.
I hate going outside. Not in an agoraphobic kind of way, just in a, "It's dirty and there are temperature considerations" kind of way. Also, the lack of comfortable chairs. I've always been this way and will probably create at least one child that follows in these indoor footsteps. Which is totally okay, because the outdoors is overrated.
I grew up on a farm where there were snakes, lots of flying insects, and too much dust flying in your eyes when you stepped outside. The weather alternated between sweltering and tornado-y. I knew from an early age that I was a city gal and fled as soon as I could. Even though I'm in beautiful, sunny, Southern California now, I'm still not crazy about the outdoors. It's lovely to look out through our picture window, and give me a porch to hang out on at a beach house any day, but to actually step out into it? No thanks, the view is perfect where I am.
Since I grew up pre-home computers, I read a lot. I wrote in my journals. I listened to music, I talked with friends, and I daydreamed. A lot. I had PE, played basketball, and I liked to go on the occasional run, so I wasn't unhealthy (and I'm still not). It's just that I enjoy the indoor activities dramatically more than those that take place in nature. I don't really see the problem with that, and I certainly won't wring my hands if my kids feel the same.
If my kids and I can hang out inside reading chapter books, having dance parties, and playing games, I'm not sure why that isn't good enough. After all, there are snakes out there.
Do you play outside with your kids?