There are some great posts making the internet rounds right now about retro summers and how we should kick our kids outside—teaching them to navigate their surroundings and make their own entertainment. This is how I spent my summers and my husband did the same. We would LOVE this for our kids. The problem is, I just can’t see how it’s possible.
First off, we don’t live on rural acreage (my husband and I both did). I can send my kids out the backyard and they can occupy themselves for a pretty good amount of time, but with only a few thousand square feet of yard and no small creeks or climbing trees, it’s only a matter of time until they’ve exhausted their options. I long for more outdoor space and mature trees, but I don’t see it anywhere in our near future.
Secondly, we live in an awesome little suburb on the San Francisco Peninsula—our neighborhood is safe and there are tons of kids in the area. This sounds like a plus, right? Well, it is if everyone lets their kids run around. But if you’re the only one, you have to worry about a nervous neighbor calling Child Protective Services because you let your kid ride his scooter around the block. And when all the neighborhood kids aren’t out roaming, you lose safety in numbers and that network of moms who are looking out for each other’s kids.
So how do we get summer back for our kids (and ourselves)? I don’t want to spend thousands of dollars in camps and shuttle my boys around all summer for the rest of their lives. I want them to make their own adventures, solve their own problems and for them to be out of my hair for hours at a time.
And I know I’m not alone. I had this conversation with a local mom just the other night and she felt the same way. How do we work together as a community to give kids back a little of the freedom they once had?