Monday, June 15, 2009

The Times They Are A Changin’


When I was a kid I would wave good-bye to my mother after breakfast in the summer and run out the door. I'd ride my bike all over the place, return for lunch mid-day or call her from a friend's house to tell her I was eating lunch there, go exploring in the woods and return home in time for dinner. I rarely watched TV and I managed to keep myself occupied without a Wii or a DS. My, how times have changed.

I decided this weekend that I was going to require my children to play outside a couple hours a day, provided that the weather holds. I have work to do both in my home and writing deadlines so I must have some free time. It's either stick them in front of the TV for a few hours or force them to play outside. I choose the latter. Today was my first day testing this new requirement out. My kids have been outside for a total of 22 minutes and I have had to take disciplinary action 3 times with my son to keep him outside and once with my daughter. I've had to break up three fights and turn the hose on and off four times. I have gotten a staggering amount of work done. Staggering.

I decided, just minutes ago, to try another strategy out. I sent the two older kids and the dog out the door and I locked it. I locked them out. They are confined to a fenced-in suburban outdoor prison that contains such torturous devices as a swing set, a tree house, a waterslide, a sand and water table, and a never ending supply of flora and fauna to keep them occupied. Yep, just call me the warden. It seems to be working. For the first couple of minutes they both just stood right outside the door, turning the doorknob over and over in disbelief. Is it really locked?

Yes, yes it is.

I'm happy to report that, a mere 15 minutes later, they both knocked on the backdoor not to whine and ask me to come in but to show me a big bucket full of magnolia leaves they'd collected. I admired it from the other side of the door and encouraged them to collect as many as possible. I'm hoping that will keep them occupied for a long time. It's a really big tree.


  1. Brilliant!! Our backyard is fenced in, but we don't have a swing set. :( I really wish we did.

  2. Ah, this makes me laugh. I can't wait until we get our fence put up so I can do the same! :)

  3. I too grew up spending hours and hours outside, and am thankful that my parents kept limits on the TV. Backyards can be magical places when you are a kid. My sister and I had dogwood trees to climb, swing sets to imagine into spaceships, and flowerbeds in which to bury trinkets.
    When we went to my best friend's house, we played in what we affectionately referred to as "the ditch." Yes, "the ditch." We pretended to find arrowheads, tried to dig a hole to China, and played "orphans." (Why is it that being parent-less is such a fun fantasy as a child?)
    The point is: the world has a way of unlocking itself to children. Ultimately, it is kind of you to lock the door!

  4. Yes, I know you don't really need my approval, however, as a vote of confidence, this 'absentee' Papa approves. Now, let's see how much damage to the routine Grandma Mary and I can do when we next visit, by the way, we'll be down Tuesday evening!

  5. Yep. We're blessed in this house in that there's a street FULL of kids for my younger two to get into trouble with. Now that the sun is out I don't see them unless the 'group' is in my yard or pounding on the door demanding ice cream or water. It's really the best thing EVER. Keep up the good work.

  6. Good for you! I long for the days that I used to spend roaming the neighborhood for hours alone and having a ball. I'm thrilled that my girls beg to go outside daily and occupy themselves with bubbles, sidewalk chalk and kiddie pool time. I just hope they keep that mindset for many summers to come!

  7. I'm all for kids playing outside, in the fresh air, among nature. They're forced to use their imaginations which will ensure they won't become stupers (short as you know for annoyingly stupid persons) later.
    Good for you!

  8. I love this! It quickly took me back to my childhood and then made me say "humm...she's right...why don't I lock my child out of the house more often"! I'm always worried about her getting too hot or getting too much sun. Do we just worry more then our mother's did or do you just know more now? I don't even remember putting on sunscreen as a kid and I always had an awesome tan!

  9. I guess it's time to submit my guest blog, Jules, about how I had to rescue a 3 year old and her 1 year old sister from the middle of the road after they cleverly escaped from their fenced-in outdoor prison!