While talking with some friends about playing outside with our kids it dawned on me that kids today don't really play our front. Some do - a lot. The vast majority however don't play out front and in the area I grew up in there aren't really backyards to play in.
These friends were a bit shocked that I let my girls play out front. And then I said the magic words: "Yea they play in the street all the time!" That blew their socks off.
Our culture right now is one of caution, anxiety, and fear. Should we eat organic or ingest chemicals, should we watch T.V. or not, which baby lotions are safe, should kids play on monkey bars they might break their arms. I am grateful for this information era and all that we know because of course I want my kids to live long healthy lives. Yet I feel burdened by the weight of all the "what ifs".
So yes I let my kids play outside and feel safe doing so. I am always out there with them and they wear helmets anytime they are on a ride on toy (bike, scooter, skates), they ride their power wheels up and down the street.
They know the rules though. Look for cars both ways all the time. Don't go farther than Kristin's House on one side and Kyle's House on the other. Put each toy away before you get a new one. Sidewalk chalk is for our property only, etc etc.
Now this happy pleasurable outdoor play didn't happen all at once. The first time I freaked out every time a car drove onto the street. Some neighbors gave us dirty looks for making them slow down. Other neighbors called me out as a bad mom for letting my kids think the street was "safe".
Eventually though, my fears calmed down, the kids learned to get out of the street way before cars came close and sometimes told me when a car was coming. They also learned which cars go to which house and whether they would turn before getting to close. The neighbors started driving down the street more cautiously and smiling or waving to us. We ran into people at stores who ended up living on our street - they introduced themselves to us and felt like they knew us because they saw us outside all of the time. Other moms let their kids play outside too and that is really fun.
Sometimes we don't go out as much and during that time people do forget but it only takes a day or two of playing outside to feel like we are in a good old fashioned street out of a book.
So have a good time, make informed decisions about your life and your kids life but don't live in fear that you can't do something! Just go do it!
- Ash of All Trades