SATURDAY! Take Our Children to the Park…And Leave Them There Day!

Hi Readers! Here’s a piece I wrote for my syndicated column:

Coming up this Saturday is holiday you didn’t celebrate as a child, because you didn’t have to. You just got up, ate breakfast and sped off to the park. No big deal.

Except it is now. Around the country, the parks are empty. Or, if there are kids around, they’re tiny tots on the jungle gym with parents poised tensely below, arms open, ready for the worst. The older kids are at home on their computers, or off at travel soccer, or studying with a tutor. Or they’re simply told, “It’s too dangerous out there,” – “there” being any place beyond the doormat. That’s why I declared the Saturday before Memorial Day, “Take Our Children to the Park…And Leave Them There Day.”

Last year, when I started this holiday, it got the kind of treatment I have come to expect from the fear-is-dear media: It was ridiculed on about six or seven TV shows, with the reporters interviewing terrified parents in the park and coming back to tell the anchor, “Nobody thinks this is a safe idea.”

Of course not! How could they, when the “news” makes it sound like we are living in Armageddon? (Which, come to think of it, is also slated for Saturday.) Where do you think folks get the idea that the very same parks they played in as kids are now cesspools of danger and depravity? One network even interviewed a lawyer who hinted that any parent allowing a kid to go to the park could be charged with child endangerment, which is patently untrue, unless the child is extremely young and helpless. I suggest that kids be at least seven or eight years old – the age kids walk to school in the rest of the world — before being allowed to play for maybe half an hour on their own, at the local playground. Is that so nuts?

A lot of people think it is. But the idea that stranger danger is rampant is unfounded. Crime is DOWN since the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, when today’s parents were kids playing in the park. The societal ills actually trending up have to do with NOT playing outside: Childhood obesity, childhood depression, childhood diabetes. We forget that when we try to keep our kids “absolutely” safe, cooped up inside, there’s a tradeoff.

What happens when we give them a bit of the freedom we had?  Well, some bumps and bruises, of course, but some key developmental milestones, too.

When kids are – this is a weird word – “forced” to play on their own, they actually develop some rather amazing skills. The first is creativity: they have to create something to do, without pressing a button. Second comes communication: They have to explain the game to their friends. Then comes compromise – if the friends want to play something else – and diplomacy: making the teams equal. Giving the younger kid an easier pitch requires empathy, and granting that the ball was “out” requires grace. Those are all skills that kids will need later on in life, and even not so later on: The ability to wait one’s turn on the ball field develops the ability to wait one’s turn in class.

So “Take Our Children to the Park…And Leave Them There Day” is not an exercise in neglect. It’s the opposite: it’s nurturing independence, which just happens to be the end-goal of parenting.

If you want to participate, I’m suggesting that you bring your kids to your local park at about 10 in the morning, so that everyone in the neighborhood can meet each other. With any luck, suddenly the park will be alive, once again, with child development.

Er…you know, kids. Having fun.

Bring life back to the park!

79 Responses

  1. We have a birthday party to go to on Saturday so we will be doing that instead of the park thing. We are at parks at least once a week if not more so. I take mine to the playground all the time. Have since they could walk and before that I would push them in the stroller at parks. Some parks will be vacant due to their location or time of day or day of the week. There is one playground though that always is packed. So that one is great for this kind of thing. There are others we go to where you would seriously be the only person there possibly if it was a weekday.

  2. And if anyone asks, the children can just say mommy and daddy got raptured!

    T-minus six years before we even consider this.

  3. Fabulous idea. Too bad I will be hovering over my child at his soccer game and then at the following team party.

    Please, I nearly was accosted by the Mommy Brigade for leaving my (happily playing in a group) almost 8-year-old “alone” on the playground while I ran to the rest room. Seriously.

    These Moms need something else to worry about.

  4. Great article — encapsulates the free-range movement; its message and history (strewn with mockery), in a few short paragraphs.

    I especially like the slant of getting people to start thinking in terms of “trade offs”. Maybe this will be more effective than appealing to rationality (i.e., that real evidence, statistics, prove there’s actually nothing scary about letting children do this).

    Haven’t there been studies that show that people are more likely to be influenced by a negative effect (here, obesity) than a positive one (like, your child won’t be abducted, you can relax)?

  5. In the year since the last TYKTTPALT day, the boy has made some huge leaps in maturity. He’s learned that there are those who think he should be locked inside and only allowed outside if i hover. He’s also learned to take some responsibility for his own free-range freedom. He’ll be with his dad this weekend, but he is otherwise at the park every chance he gets. Despite the empty and errilly quiet neighborhood streets (yes, even on saturdays) he goes to the park and has even made some friends. He wouldn’t have made those friends had i kept him on lock down. And making friends has made moving to a new neighborhood an experience he could enjoy.

  6. I did not realize your blog was still around. I happen to turn on Dr. Phill this morning and saw your show. I had seen it before.

  7. Our neighborhood park is advertising on the marquee sign by the park “Take Kids to the Park Day” for the 21st. Does this slightly more PC version predate yours, or is it nerfed from your own idea?

  8. I’m looking forward to the day my son (now 3) is old enough to be left at the park — although if things continue as they are, I imagine he’ll be rather lonely there. It’s usually deserted when we go, and there are never more than one or two other children, even in summer. No wonder he’s shy …

  9. Mine is grown now, so I don’t have to put up with the idiocy. However I have moved to a sane(r) part of the country in the northern plains. Kids here are out all over town since the snow melted, biking, rollerblading, walking… oh my gosh even playing, wow. They may or may not use the park but they’ll be all over the neighborhood. Things haven’t changed too much since I was the one doing those things….

  10. I love the forced to play on their own line. I always laugh when I have to force my kids to play outside. What kid doesn’t want to play outside?!
    We won’t be able to participate on Saturday though. We’ll be camping with the Cub Scouts instead. I have recently let my 7 & 9 year old boys ride down to the local playground for a half hour or so, while I fix lunch. I have to admit that it makes me anxious to not “know” what they are up to, but of course they do just fine.

  11. I took my three year old to the park after dinner one day – she needed tiring out before bed! – and the biggest danger there were the mosquitos. I was really pleased to see gaggles of big kids (between 7 and 12 or so) playing a wide ranging game of their own creation all over the neighborhood and through the park – with no parents anywhere to be seen. It was just like “old times” – i.e. the mid-eighties. Those are kids who will have the skills to deal with the world of school and beyond without mom and dad’s constant intervention!

  12. I thought Saturday was the Rapture and Armageddon comes next? It’s not supposed to be until 6 pm though so it shouldn’t interfere with the park🙂

    Seriously though one of the things I love about our new neighborhood is how often I see kids at the little park across the street. The littlest kids are always with adults but I see lots of kids in the 8-12 year old range there by themselves. Sometimes the younger teenagers hang out there as well but they’re too cool to do much besides swing a little. At least they’re outside though!

  13. Our homeschool group has Park Day once a week after the weather gets nice enough (and the bathrooms are open), but we don’t leave our kids. We sit near the playground and chat while the kids run amok in the park. They come up with their own games, build forts, chase squirrels, ride their bikes around, etc.
    Even the little ones are on the playscape without parents helicoptering. It’s wonderful.

    But this weekend, my 9-year-old will be heading up to camp with her American Heritage Girls troop tonight and I’ll be joining tomorrow with the 6-year-old (I’m a leader). I’ll be thinking of you all!

  14. I’d just like to point out that kids have probably always had to be forced to play… we just edit our imaginations to make ourselves more willingly creative.🙂 When I was a kid, TV was a well established distraction. Not sure what kept children couch bound before TV, but I’m sure it was something… radio? Books? Comics? That’s why we joke about our parents throwing us out of the house or even LOCKING us out of the house.

    There are more distractions now, but the fear you talk about is the much more pressing difference. Our kids aren’t playing outside because we are afraid to throw them out… not because of video games.

  15. I had a parent call my son a pervert because he and his friend were trying to get other kids to play in the woods along the side of the playground. He doesn’t want to go to the park anymore because this is not the first incident like this. He’s been traumatized a couple of times by helicopter parents.

  16. Kind of like Dolly, the first poster, my son is going to a birthday party. But I am (or my husband is) taking him, and leaving him there. (Shocking, I know.) We’ll see how the day goes after that. We may get in a solo park visit, as well.

  17. It’s been so great in our neighbourhood this spring. There’s a group of kids from ages 4 – 10 who play in our park unsupervised almost daily. The kids know the times they can expect the other kids to be there. My two (9 and 5) are having a great time with the independence.

  18. Can’t wait to do this in 4 more years!!

  19. “Haven’t there been studies that show that people are more likely to be influenced by a negative effect (here, obesity) than a positive one (like, your child won’t be abducted, you can relax)?”

    I don’t know about studies (though there may well be) but it just seems like common sense to me that it’s easier to persuade someone there’s a good reason for doing something (it’s better for your kids in this long list of ways) than to persuade them out of a firmly held belief about it (it’s DANGEROUS.) It’s easier to accept a new idea than to get rid of an old one, or so it seems to me.

  20. Yeah, kids in pools are a different matter altogether. A kid might not even notice another kid on the other side of a pool (and I’m talking about a backyard pool) drowning, since drowning is frequently less dramatic than we think. I don’t even like rereading this article because I find it disturbing, but every parent really should read it at least once:

    http://mariovittone.com/2010/05/154/

    A nine year old might not even notice another kid drowning in a pool, especially if they’ve been goofing around and going under and holding their breath and stuff.

    I don’t let my kids swim unsupervised in our own 24 foot backyard pool unless there are at least two of them, and at least one is a teenager (but I’m not sure I’m ready to give my just turned thirteen year old the privilege of being alone with the 10 yo yet this year.) I had to put my foot down the first year my then 18 year old daughter thought she was “responsible” enough to swim all alone and explain it’s not about that. I will be where I can see them easily at all times, such as hanging out in the kitchen, near the window — I don’t necessarily feel the need to be at poolside, although more often than not, I am. But I won’t let them be in for any longer than it takes for me to run downstairs and grab another towel, without me at least in line of sight, unless there are at least two and at least one is “of age.”

  21. I feel my son, at 4, is noticeably too young for this, but continue to work on encouraging him to play independently at our parks while I stay quietly out of the way. As some of the other (older) kids in our neighborhood grow (still) older, though, I’m delighted to see them out and about independently. Now if only we can make sure that the drivers on our neighborhood streets are appropriately cautious.

  22. Indeed, pentamom, my older niece started having trouble at a pool when I was *right there with her*. It was her swim class’s “pool party”, I had gotten into the pool with her younger sister who is too short to go in there unattended, I genuinely thought Ana was taller than the water (turns out she’s ALMOST taller than the water – whoops) and when she started bobbing up and down I thought she was goofing off as she had been doing earlier.

    She was not. I realized what was going on literally the same second that another person outside the pool did and told me to grab her – good advice, really. Hauled her out and sat her on the side.

    Drowning doesn’t look like you probably think.

  23. Aaaaand…..I put that on the wrong thread! Sorry!

  24. Here’s another story you might want to look at:

    http://daily.makerfaire.com/evolution-of-a-young-maker

  25. But I thought the world was going to end on Saturday?

  26. Ever since our kids were little, I took them to public parks in our city, always expecting suspicious people to be sitting around or lurking somewhere.

    It took years – that’s right, years – for it to sink in that those people didn’t seem to exist. At least not at the parks I went to time and time again. I did meet friendly parents who came with their small children, and we had pleasant conversations. I also talked to children who lived near the park who had arrived unattended by adults.

    It’s interesting that if you talk to any older adult from the days when kids did stay outside unattended, they can usually recall strange people they or their friends encountered. And, they knew enough not to go with them, or turn the other way and run.

    James Michener wrote a poignant scene about such an encounter in his lesser known but great book: “The Fires of Spring.”

  27. I thought it seemed a bit OT, but I’ve given up making sense of how these threads change.

    We really do need an *actual forum* though. I’m just saying….

  28. Since my son plays with his pals in the wooded area around the stream that runs through our neighborhood, I think we’re celebrating this nearly every day. Except I don’t take him there, he just gets to go there. Wednesday afternoon, when playing after school, he fell into the stream (it was just a matter of time, really), so he and his buddy walked back to our house. He was soaking wet, but otherwise fine. My mother thinks he’ll drown or be kidnapped. I think my worst problem is more laundry. No biggie!

  29. We’re not “participating” because my kids go to the park alone almost every day. My 8yo daughter had to go find her 9yo brother yesterday at around 7pm. He was over at a friend’s house who lives on the other side of the playground. It’s about 3-4 blocks away (hard to tell in our little suburban neighborhood with it’s looping streets).

    He came home covered in dirty and bruises. He played football in the park all day with his friend and some big kids (big meaning middle school, he’s in 3rd grade). He told me every muscle that ached and every injury he got then hopped in the shower and did his reading before bed. Good times.

    It’s supposed to rain on Saturday but I’m sure my kids will be outside playing at some point (not necessarily at the park) and that is always unsupervised. I have other things to do with my time besides sit and watch a bunch of kids play (boring!).

    This Saturday will be like every other Saturday for my kids…unless the world ends. That might make things interesting.

  30. Well, the weather isn’t looking so great here in MSN, but we’re going to try to do something in the morning! If not, we’ll do it again (and again, and again…).

  31. Oh, I don’t know, Jen. I find watching kids play can be extremely entertaining, and sometimes educational too!

    But only if they don’t know I’m watching, and wow, that made it all seem a lot creepier than I intended!

  32. Maybe Uly and Pentamom should start their own blog🙂

    (and I don’t mean that in a ‘go away’ sense but in a ‘you have so much to add’ sense)

  33. My neighbor Jack from down the street stopped by today to return the dish from a meal my 10-year-old delivered on roller skates yesterday. He gave my (naked) toddler a huge bear hug. I apologized for the bare bottom and he said, “Oh no, I ran around like that all the time as a kid.”

    It got me thinking: 70 years ago, no one thought twice about naked kids in the house OR 10-year-old delivery boys. I’ll bet he played at the neighborhood park alone every Saturday when he was growing up. Probably had a newspaper route by the age of 9.

    Now, age 80, he still repairs his own car, cares for his invalid wife at home, and recently assisted the police in cracking down on a gang-related drug ring in our area.

    Will our children grow up to be strong and independent like our Jack, or will they be so afraid they can’t even answer their own door for fear of rapists and thieves?

    I think I’ll drop my older two (ages 7 and 10) at the park tomorrow on my way to the farmer’s market. I hope enough others are doing similar things so when MY children are caring for invalid spouses in their 80s, the next couple generations will still remember how to send their kids down the street with a meal for the elderly neighbors.

  34. I actually have a journal. But it’s all random, not on one subject. I don’t have the mental energy for that.

  35. I like the idea of allowing my kids to go to the park alone but the thing that worries me isn’t so much the off chance of abduction but the perhaps more likely chance that they would not be careful enough crossing the street. Lenore, can you offer any statistics on this?
    Is it irrational to worry that an unsupervised 7 year could be hit by a car?

  36. Had a great time at the playground this afternoon! At first the place was empty and I tried to free range a bit and let my boys ride their tricycles around the huge walking circle on their own so that they were just a dot in the distance from where I sat. Then some sweet older girls showed up and they played with my boys so well. They took them under their wings and spun them on the carousel and lifted them up on the high stuff and even held their hands. Too cute! Their grandmother or mother was walking around away from them. So no hovering mothers and the kids having a great time!

  37. When I was 4 I went to the park with my dad. The playground then was built by the volunteer fire department, made out of big splintery hunks of reclaimed wood and metal. I was 4 so of course I didn’t pay nearly enough attention and I stood up into a cross beam over the slide. After a moment of shocked and frozen silence, I started to bawl and slid down the slide into my dad’s arms. He discovered my head was gushing blood from my plastic barette puncturing and tearing my scalp. The hospital was almost an hour away from our tiny little town at the egde of a state park but the vet was only across the square. He dashed me there, ran me in and set me up on the exam table. The vet saw the blood dripping off the ends of my hair and jumped-to with gauze and two stitches. He even gave me a green apple lolipop for being brave about being stitched up without anesthetic.

    That playground has been replaced with a generic soft plastic factory job, those barettes have been off the market for two decades because of all the holes they put in little girls’ heads and the vet in that practice now wouldn’t dream of treating a human for fear of losing his licence. Without those things and others like them, my childhood wouldn’t have been as rich in experience, the bond with community members would not have existed and my dad and I would be one hilarious story poorer at family gatherings.

    Thank goodness for outdoor play.

  38. “I suggest that kids be at least seven or eight years old – the age kids walk to school in the rest of the world — before being allowed to play for maybe half an hour on their own, at the local playground. Is that so nuts?” Nope, not crazy in the least and I love that you clarified your position on that.😉

  39. I have to say, isn’t EVERY day “leave your kids at the park day”? 😀 It sure is for me.

    My five year old and his four year old buddy and neighbour head across the alley and across the school field to the playground almost every day, unattended by myself or my friend. I peek out my door every now and then to make sure there are still kids at the park (I can’t see who the kids are, exactly, though). My friend lives much closer and can just look out her window to make sure our adventurous third-borns are not jumping over the fence into the busy road, but other than that, they are on their own, and they LOVE it.

    My afternoons at home are peaceful and refreshing to me so I can be the best mom to my four kids once they are all home and ready for dinner and evening activities.

    My seven- and eight-year-olds also enjoy the freedom they have to ride their bikes around the neighbourhood and play at the park and on the school grounds with their friends during the evenings and weekends. The weather has been fabulous for this lately! Happy kids, happy parents, happy everyone. 🙂

  40. Take your kids to the park and leave them there to get raptured day!

  41. It’s WAY too funny watching kids play at our school after school’s done. There are 20 kids with 20 moms watching. Whenever I come buy to pick my kids up, I count in my head until the silent alarm “It’s a MAN, PEDOPHILE ALERT!!!” goes off on all the mother’s heads, and they take a few steps towards their kids while staring at me in unison.

    My kids play outside almost every day. Let them enjoy the outdoors.

  42. I would totally do this, except my kids are one and two years of age, and I don’t think the elder could be counted on to change her baby brother’s diaper if he were to soil himself. In all seriousness, though, I could not even begin to tell you the thousands of days I spent playing at our local parks or just outside unsupervised. And it was wonderful. It’s sad that many parents today don’t want their children to have the same experiences that we took for granted.

    And as far as the Apocalypse goes, I can’t think of a better place for children to be than playing outside! No ceilings for them to bump their little noggins on if the Rapture does occur. Is it too late to make “in case of Rapture, this swing/slide/climbing wall will be childless” bumper stickers and plaster them all over the park?

  43. We celebrated stick the kids outside with the neighbor child and ignore them day today. Oh, wait, that’s every day…

    Unfortunately thing 1 and 2 are still a bit young to go to the park on their own- they still need an adult nearby to, you know, annoy.

  44. Sometimes there actually are playground situations that make me uneasy. Last year we had a homeless guy camping in the little pine “woods” (ok, it’s four trees) the kids like to play hide&seek in. This is maybe 20 yards from the playground (and the tennis courts, community garden and beach volleyball pits). Yep, I called the cops.

    I wasn’t actually worried that this man would harm a kid, but he had to be relieving himself somewhere, I wouldn’t trust his bedroll not to be full of bedbugs, and there was booze around. Yuck. I’m not sure how old my little guy (2 now) will have to be before I’d trust him not to go exploring a homeless camp. I guess I’ll see.

    But I guess once he’s old enough I’ll take him to the park, and make my decision about leaving on the fly.

  45. @ Jen, Kate, & Kimberly — Should that happen, I guess we’ll just have to gracefully concede victory to the fearmongers.

    I can just see the letters to the Wall Street Journal:
    “I sent my kids to play at the park on Saturday and THE WORLD ENDED! Despite all your so-called “facts,” you free-rangers were WRONG! See if I ever do THAT again!”

    /silliness

  46. I won’t be taking my almost 9 year old to the park today since I don’t think this is celebrated where I live, and she has gone on an outing with grandparents.

    However I did leave her home alone for a while twice on Tuesday. She was sick and I had stayed home to look after her, and popped out to the dvd store and later the shops. My husband seemed slightly surprised when I told him this so we discussed that she knew several phone numbers to call for assistance, and they are also written down by the phone. In the unlikely event of someone trying to break into the house while she is in it, she knows to press the panic button for the private security company. (Welcome to life in middle class South Africa.) He asked me if she knows how to get out of the house in an emergency and I said we had not covered that but will now do so.

    When I as her age I had a group of three friends with whom I roamed all over the neighbourhood during school holidays. 11 Years later when my brother reached that age, my parents no longer let him do that. Vagrancy had increased and the park where I used to play was no longer deemed safe. He did however have a paper round and went everywhere on his bicycle since his early teens.

    These days if I see a younger teenager walking alone I wonder where are his/her parents? And then I smile to myself because really, even now my middle class suburb is not so dangerous that bad things are likely to happen to the kid. But it’s like you have several times said Lenore, the more kids are outside, the safer it will be. The neighbourhood of my childhood was safe because people were always outside, chatting, working in the garden, washing their cars, and looked out for each other’s kids. This no longer happens, and it is sad for us and our children.

  47. […] year, the awesome Lenore Skenazy, the original “Free Range Mom” came up with Take Your Kid To The Park … And Leave Them There Day. The way she explained it last year was that parents are always worried about letting their kids […]

  48. […] Hi Readers! Here's a piece I wrote for my syndicated column: Coming up this Saturday is holiday you didn’t celebrate as a child, because you didn’t have to. You just got up, ate breakfast and sped off to the park. No big deal. Except it is now. Around the country, the parks are empty. Or, if there are kids around, they’re tiny tots on the jungle gym with parents poised tensely below, arms open, ready for the worst. The older kids are at home on t … Read More […]

  49. Well, you all know that the pedophiles will be out stealing kids for sure this year. The police left behind will never be able to handle all the missing person reports this weekend so it’s free hunting. So all those celebrating, make sure you tell the kids to be home before 6 so you don’t spend the rest of your life – all 4 months of it – wondering whether they were abducted or raptured if they don’t come home. Besides you really need them home to enjoy the post-Rapture looting party. You’d hate to miss out on that fancy house you were going to claim because you had to wait for the kids to get home from the playground.

    In all seriousness, have fun today. I can’t wait until mine is old enough – if I can ever convince her to go to the park without me there to be her audience.

  50. Wait, us Free Rangers need to put our kids where our mouths are. If we really believe “the world won’t end if we let our kids go to the park alone….” well, the conclusion seems obvious.

  51. Just sent my 11 year off by himself biking around. Afraid your movement is not big in our parts, but I carry on alone. Years ago, your message inspired me to let the kids out…now they all get to their destinations on their own, every morning. (4 boys, 18, 15, 13 and 11) Some by subway, two youngest bike to school every day. Some days my husband and I sit on our front porch after they have all left and have breakfast on our own. Progress! They never complain about these developments and have become more and more independent as the years go by. So thanks. Keep the message flowing. You make a difference in kids’ lives (as well as improve the lives of their parents). PS;They have not watched TV news and I have not in over ten years…we actually read the newspaper (WSJ) so the effect of the media fear machine is minimized.

  52. Paul C, at least your kids get to play on the eqipment after school. At our local school the irrigation goes on right after the kids are dismissed. No one can linger and play. I think it is really sad.

  53. “Is it too late to make ‘in case of Rapture, this swing/slide/climbing wall will be childless’ bumper stickers and plaster them all over the park?”

    So, what you’re saying is, that hours with Raptures are more common than hours without Raptures?

  54. I did what I thought was an appropriate version for a 3-year-old — take him to the park and work on my writing while he played w/out me. The results were amazing. He made friends. Took turns. Cried when someone accidentally bonked him in the eye but didn’t get mad at the kid (who was after all, by this time, his friend), got unsalted pretzels from a stranger (call the cops!) had a grand time and then begged to go home and take a nap. Breaking open the Pinot Grigio now and putting my feet up!!!!! What a great birthday (and not such a bad apocalypse). Thank you.

  55. Everybody will be reassured to know that at our city zoo today, the toddler playground was crawling with kids, the picnic tables were festooned with relaxing parents, and the only adults inside the playground fence were helping infants.

    No idea what was going on with the older kids, but for the under-5s I was impressed with the level of independence the children were allowed.

  56. […] See the original post: SATURDAY! Take Our Children to the Park…And L… […]

  57. Happy take your kids to the park and leave them there day! Second annual? I sent the kids off to the local school playgound, which is pretty typical for a Saturday, and they had a great time.One of my boys crashed his bike but the others dusted him off and they kept on playing. Here’s to the growing tide of sanity.

  58. I missed it. Was at home with a migraine, and the girls had friends over, so DH certainly wasn’t happy taking someone else’s children to the park and leaving them there!

    However, he did sit near the playground and let them climb the trees right over the other side of the park.

    And, in a victory for free-ranging, my girls’ friends, to whose place my 8yo walks alone every morning for a ride to school, are about to be allowed to walk to our house alone! All it takes is one person to demonstrate that their children are capable, for others to start to wonder whether maybe their kids might be too!

  59. Today our local community center had a free day so I took the kids and their friends to roller skate, ice skate, and swim for 7 hours! I’m exhausted! I let my 7 year old son use the men’s locker room by himself (although not really a big deal since he always does), and I relaxed in the adults only hot tub (my legs were sore from roller skating and ice skating) while the kids played in the pools, went down the slide, and off the high dive. We got home and the kids disappeared into the neighborhood, rumor has it another kid found a toad so that’s always fun. They should be back soon, I told them to come in at 7:00 to shower for church tomorrow and get to bed early, surely they must be exhausted, I know I am🙂

  60. Well, since my girl is just 3, we couldn’t exactly leave her there. But, still, something amazing happened. I was sitting in the shade (like I do) and my husband, Josh was teaching our girl to fly a kite. Well, as soon as it got into the air, she got bored and went to the playground. Then a little boy came over and asked Josh if he could have a turn, so Josh handed the boy the string and gave have him a few instructions. After a while it was time to go, so the boy helped Josh roll up the string and put the kite away, then we all said goodbye.
    On the way home, I asked Josh if he had noticed any parents and he said, “I kept looking around to see which adult was giving me stank eye, and no one was!” So either some parents let this boy go to the park with his older brother, or they were unconcerned with him flying a kite with a grown man. Either way, it’s a miracle!

  61. Our Local park sponsored a large free BBQ with lots of stuff for kids to do starting at 10 this morning and going till 5pm this night.

  62. I tried to get my child to go to the playground by herself twice today and completely failed. This morning we were at the park and I tried to get her to go play at the playground while I walked around the farmer’s market. She wanted to hang out with me. This afternoon we were at an art’s festival and I again tried to get her to go to the playground while I sat in my mother’s booth with her. Again, she wasn’t interested. At least she did go to the hair painting booth by herself to ask how much it cost and then go back to get her hair done.

    So apparently I have a helicopter kid. I try to let her free range and she wants to hang out with me.

  63. My kids are too young (1 and 2-almost-3) to leave them at the parl, but this brings back fond memories of childhood. When I was 4-8 our neighborhood gaggle of kids had free run of our dead-end street and we came back home when the porch lights started coming on. When I was 9-15 we moved to a tiny town, actually to the forest 5 miles outside the tiny town. We had three ‘ranges’ and just left a note for our parents when we went wandering telling them which range we’d be in. Yelling range, up to about 1/2 mile away, whistling range, which was up to about a mile away (my dad has a really loud whistle), and shooting range, up to about 5 miles away. Usually we tried to give them a vague direction and when we were planning on being back. Sometimes we’d come back to a note that said ‘went for a drive, be back tomorrow’. Talk about ‘free-range’, they trusted us and we trusted them and we all grew up safe and sound! Boy I miss the country! I might have grown up in the late 20th century, but for all practical purposes we grew up in the early 20th century! Which, I have to say, was way better!

  64. We did our version of Take Your Kids to the Park Day! Our son is 10 months old. So we set up toys and cleared his room of anything potentially danerous and we closed his door and let him play while mommy and daddy had some time together! We let him play for 30 minutes without checking. Now we were in the same house so if he cried we could hear him. But he didn’t and when we did check him he was flipping throuh a book! It was nice to sit for a few minutes with my husband.

  65. It’s been raining steadily on an east wind for days now. If the toddler didn’t have a cough, I would have taken them out anyway, but I don’t want to get him sicker.

    Our sunny weather plans would have been a garage sale a short distance on quiet streets from our church, which isn’t locked during the day, so I could send the oldest to the bathroom by herself.

  66. Well we let our kids play in the creek, get really wet from throwing everything they could find and had a blast!

  67. We took out kid’s to the local rodeo/carnival today, so no park — but my 4-y-o did all the kiddie rides on her own while I watched and her brothers were doing the big kid rides with Dad. Parents kept asking, “Can I go on with her/him?” and trying to squeeze themselves into little trains and flying bees, while I stood outside the fence and yelled, “Spin it faster, Naomi! You’ll feel like puking! It’s great!”
    Suffice to say we all had a wonderful time.

  68. We had some free ranging going on at the birthday party we went to yesterday. Their yard was very wooded and large. They had a little trail going down to a swingset. I just let mine go down there and play. I did not go with them. Some of the mothers at first acted scared to let their kids go down there alone. But then we all relaxed about it and the parents stayed up top and chatted while the kids ran all over the yard out of sight playing. We would check on them every so often and it was great. We did not have to break up any fights or have any injuries or anything. I am so jealous of that yard. What a fun and cool yard.

  69. Oh well! We didn’t get to participate again this year. I free ranged my dog at a friend’s house and he ran into something in the woods that left a 1 inch hole in his side. On the way to the vet my son said, “We shouldn’t let him play at K’s house anymore.” And I said, “So the next time you stub your toe at the park, we won’t go anymore?” Got him thinking. Anyhoo…DS usually spends his weekends out with the neighbors. I wish they didn’t have homework, so he could be out when they got home from school. :o)

  70. We didn’t participate this year in any sense because some of our kids were helping my husband haul and spread manure on the garden, and the other one was shopping with me. Saturdays are like that.

  71. I was going to do this but I couldnt find my kid. She was off riding her bike somewhere.When I stopped by the neighborhood store the owner said he had seen her earlier she had asked about his sick twins and helped him stock the gum while she waited for his wife to bring their son and they both took off. She texted me at noon that SHe and he were eating tacos at the taco shac with another friend, The other one(13) was off hiking with her friends from school doing a clean up the trail project she started.

  72. Oh, and the one I was shopping with did ask if we could split up after a couple of stops so she could run an errand of her own and then walk home (about a half mile) from there. So that’s what we did — she took herself off and got home to an empty house before I did.

  73. Ok, they’re there. What day do we pick them up?

  74. Awesome! I couldn’t stop laughing( I was in a public place and I hope I didn’t break any laws).
    I remember walking with my little brother ( I was about 12 and he was 10) about a mile to my Catholic School playground to meet friends and ( wait for it…) PLAY!. NO ADULTS IN SIGHT! There, I said it. WE PLAYED AND I’M STILL ALIVE MARRIED WITH THREE KIDS! And I made it without a Department of Homeland Security.

  75. I did this SEVERAL times this weekend. My boys, 10 and 7 1/2, rode thier bikes while I was well ahead of them or well behind them, and they went to the bathroom for 10 minutes at an amusement park while hubby and I niblled on french fires several hundred feet away. It’s all good!

  76. Seeing as there have been three attempted abductions and two murders in broad daylight in our small city, I have to say, what a good way to advertise to predators where your kids will be all day alone. Not to mention, when I was 8, I fell 12 feet from the Monkey bars, and was in a wheelchair for months. If my mom hadn’t been there I would have been paralyzed.

    If parents want to use this “free range parenting” as an excuse to justify taking the day off to play video games and watch TV that is their choice.

    In my case I chose to build the playground in our yard so there is a safe place for the neighbourhood kids to play where adults are at least within calling distance if needed.

  77. That’s a shame, Lara, about your accident, but personally I think the whole idea of needing a day to do this sort of thing is the real shame. My kids have been playing down the road at the school together since the oldest was about eight, and he was playing just with friends there before that. Accidents happen, but at least in their case they are close enough to home (about a block, I think you would call it) to run home and let us know, or there are plenty of neighbours about. I don’t think anyone here is free-ranging to give themselves time to watch TV, but more to give time for kids to have their own, adult-free world…..

  78. […] them” day a few years ago! The second year it fell on Saturday May 22nd! Last year it fell on Saturday May 21st! And this year it will be on Saturday May 19th! Thats right we have 2.5 weeks to spread the […]

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