Tag: free play

Throw the Kids out of the House

Throw the Kids out of the House

According to a report on Fox & Friends on March 29, 2019, kids are having more surgeries for sports injuries than professionally athletes.

Why – because we aren’t throwing them out of the house.

Okay, maybe that wasn’t what they said. But it was close.

Kids aren’t free playing anymore. The aggressive sports players do get out and practice, but that’s not the same. Attending exercise classes or working out at the gym is not the same. Free play gets the kids out of the house and into their imagination, their group engagement, and activities that don’t happen any other way.

My sons have always been free-ranged. It’s a little easier for us, because we live in the back corner of 40 acres and neighbors don’t see the free-ranging for the most part. Living in town, neighbors that don’t know you, complete strangers that have never met you, and even family members that just don’t like you want to get into your business are all watching and waiting to pounce on your lack of parenting skills.

But we live in the woods, so in the woods they go.

One day, the older boys (probably 8 and 10 at the time) came in and told me there was nothing to do. I encouraged them to go dig a hole. Later that day, they came in and asked if they could dig a tunnel from the shed to the creek.

“Absolutely,” I replied without hesitation. Not because I wanted a tunnel from the shed to the creek, although it might be cool. I was quick to respond because I understanding of how much would have to go into a tunnel.

To their credit, they did manage to dig a hole about five feet deep and four feet wide. Years later my youngest son would continue their efforts, but the giant rock that stopped his brothers also put a damper on his tunnel plans.

Did I tell them they were exercising? Nope. Did I mention they were working their joints? Of course not. Did I explain to them the value of getting the natural D from the sun? I bet you know that answer by now.

It’s not as easy with my youngest. His brothers are off at college or work. They don’t have time for playing or hanging out with their brother. I’ve started encouraging him to get out with me to build, to dig in the garden, or to burn (boys LOVE to burn).

Together, we dug a fire pit in the back yard, so now I’m more comfortable with him going out to build a fire without supervision. He’s a Boy Scout and has his firem’n chit (which means he’s supposed to be responsible), so that’s another reason to let him go.

Over the last several days, I have been pushing him more and more to get out. It’s spring break, the sun has been shining, and he needs to have less screen time. So do I. And in encouraging my son to free play and enjoy all that is around us, I have been encouraging me as well to get out and do more.

So encourage your children to free play more, even if they are involved in structured sports. And try to make some time to join them. Free play – it’ll do your heart good (and don’t forget your own rubber boots)!

The Mom