Cutting the Apron Strings

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Even though living in So Cal means we get to be outside year round, I love spring and summer because of how long the days are. I told Drama Kid a few days ago that we're going to be spending more time outside after school. Today he took me at my word and kicked off his shoes and socks as soon as we pulled into the drive and started playing with his tether ball. We had about two hours for snacks and playtime before martial arts.

Having been out of the house for most of the day I was anxious to re-enter the Land of Always On Wireless and check Twitter emails. Our house is two levels, but not the typical split level. The front door opens to the family room with the dining room and kitchen to the left. The bedrooms and secondary baths are downstairs at the back of the house. The computer is in the spare bedroom. It took awhile to get used to, but after two scorching summers I'd much rather sleep downstairs. But I digress.

My little guy has always been independent, fearless and I-will-not-stop-moving-until-I'm asleep active. I've tried to encourage him and not stifle these traits. As much as they scare the heck out of me at times, I know how important and valuable they will be to him as he gets older. Even when he was little I wasn't the type of mom to follow him all over the playground and go down the slide with him in my lap. I didn't want my worryness to rub off and make him timid or overly cautious.

Now that he's getting older, I am trying (not always successfully) to cut the apron strings more and more. A few weeks ago we were at the park and he started doing the pee dance. The other boy he was playing with also had to go so his dad and I headed to the bathrooms. Drama Kid followed the boy and his dad into the men's room. I was a nervous wreck. Even though I could hear him and he was with an adult, it still felt wrong.

So now I'm in a quandary. I was the one who said we'd be increasing our outside time, but I can't keep an eye on him and be productive at the same time. Today I had the front door open, along with the garage door and the door leading into the kitchen, and the window in DK's bedroom since his room is on the side of the house and I could hear him if he was in the front patch of grass yard. And, God love the kid, he put out the "slow, children at play" sign all by himself.

But if he went down the driveway, or across the cul de sac to the open space, I couldn't hear him at all. I spent a lot of time running up and down the stairs to check on him and didn't get a whole lot done (which is why I'm writing this post at midnight). How do I balance productivity with safety? By the time we got home from martial arts it was time for homework, dinner and bedtime. Am I being Paranoid Helicopter Mom?

Do you stay outside with your kids? How old were they before you started giving them a little more freedom? [Insert obligatory when I was a kid I wandered the neighborhood barefoot until the street lights came on story here] Am I doomed to spend the summer catching up on my blogging commitments after everyone else is in bed?

Image from here


  1. I live in what I feel is a safe neighborhood, and I have kids who are more reliable than most. So I let them out unattended more than most moms would. It's hard, on the one hand, but on the other, it's harder to keep them in. I do keep an eye and an ear out, and they know to tell me if they want to leave the yard. They know not to go in the street. They are pretty reliable, so I do give them some rope. It's an individual thing, I think.

  2. thank goodness for backyards and good dogs. my little one is only 21 months, but she can play in the yard semi-unattended playing with our dog for increasingly long periods of time. its been awesome! unfortunately she has developed a newfound love of gardening which in her eyes seems to involve eating dirt.

  3. Mine were about 3or4 and could play in our small front yard but I could see them from almost every room in the house. Lots of ceiling to floor windows on the front of the house. They were about 5or6 when I felt comfortable enough to let them play out there without me being right in the front door, or on the porch. But that was because our neighborhood was relatively safe back then, and quiet. Now I don't know, but if he's alone, and you feel uncomfortable, heck go on outside with him! These times of your life fly by way too quickly. He'll not need you much at all in a few years and you can cut those ties then.

  4. My kids were out by themselves pretty early, I'd say by 3 or 4, but we are on a cul-de-sac, there was always a passel of older kids and I could be in the kitchen and look out the screen door to the front frequently.

    Why don't you give him your cell phone with the house phone on speed dial so you can check in on him every 20 minutes or so without going outside?

  5. I pretty much have no visability of our front yard from my house, but thankfully my wireless works outside so I've been known to sit in the driveway clicking on a laptop while watching them play. Typically they play in the backyard though where I can easily see them. We're about to get a new swing set just to let them run off their energy in the back yard since I'm not going to be making as many treks to the park with a newborn.


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