Sunday, January 26, 2014

Get Out!

When mommies get together, we tend to talk about our kids. With the holiday last Monday, followed by two "snow" days plus a two-hour delay, the topic was "what to do with the kiddos" when stuck in the house. Unfortunately, nobody shared anything earth-shattering. However, I did hear of one idea that has potential during milder weather:

Mean Mommy D likes to push her rambunctious daughter out of the house with a timer set for thirty minutes. She tells her child to "play by yourself" and--get this--she locks the door! I can see some parents getting bent out of shape over this, but, truth is, back in the day, kids were regularly shoved outside and told to "go play" and not allowed in the house except to eat, use the bathroom, get first aid or retrieve a toy. Why, then, does this seem so harsh?

D parks her car at the end of the driveway, allowing her daughter to some paved space for riding her bike or using sidewalk chalk, and also making a clear line which her daughter knows not to cross. D also makes sure that outdoor toys are available, and she goes over the rules she has set for when her child plays outside. She also likes to challenge her daughter to "make something to impress" her and sometimes sweetens the deal with the promise of a treat.

So, again, why does this seem harsh? Because the locking of the door enforces the "play outside" mandate? Or because, with information so easily accessible, D can find out where the closest sex offender is...or how close the most recent case of rabies was to her house...or statistics on child abductions?

Why does D's daughter have to be locked out of the house? Because the lure of electronics is so strong she would choose to stay inside and turn into a vegetable otherwise? Last week, when my kiddo was complaining about being bored, I suggested she (a) help me clean; (b) read a book; or (c) find a toy, but what she really wanted to do was watch TV or play on the computer. Suddenly, the threat of a flooded bedroom due to "mad scientist experiments" or multicolored splatters from finger painting in the bathtub didn't sound so bad...

When Spring gets here, I'll be kicking the kiddo outside, but instead of locking her out, I would love it if she wanted to spend her time outside. With plenty of toys and sunscreen and a bottle of water and a list of rules...

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