Free range kids

I grew up in an era when, during the summer holidays, I’d say bye to my mum at 9 in the morning and probably not be home until tea time. We’d explore our local area, I grew up in a small town, but luckily on the outskirts so were surrounded by open fields to explore, woods with trees to climb and dirt roads were no cars travelled.

Looking back, I had some great experiences, many teaching me skills that I would need in later life, such as decision-making and trusting my instincts but it does make a shudder slightly when I think of my three going off and doing what I did.

I know times have changed, but have they really or are we more aware of what is going on around us than we were back then. I’m only really talking 25 years ago, not all that long at all but it seems like a different place to where we live now.

I sat thinking the other night whether my parenting style would be any different if I lived in a town. When we drive through the local towns in the summer months, no matter what time of the day, there are small groups of children out playing, as I had as a child. My three have never experienced this as they are the only children in our village. I’m not sure how I’d feel if we did live in a town and they wanted to go off and play out on the street, would I let them?

I wonder if my parenting style has stunted their personal growth and limited their independence?

With this in mind, this summer I am actively trying to encourage my own free range kids, helping they develop their life skills and explore in a safe environment. I am not going to be looking over their shoulders every second and making decisions for them (well not the easy ones, important ones will still be in my control) and letting them go a little bit further out of my sight than I have before.

I’d love to hear what you’ve got to say on this subject, please comment below on how you allow your children to explore and build their own character.

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17 Comment

  1. Hi Kizzy,

    Great post. I was the same, we disappeared all day and returned when we were hungry. Sometimes we’d eat at neighbours, or up a tree! I don’t remember my mum ever worrying, certainly they didn’t care any less than we did it was just how it was in the 70’s 😉

    I definitely don’t let my kids on the loose in the same way. When we are camping, it’s easier. This last trip the kids surfed on their own and swam (the older ones) and they had some freedom with kids around the camp site. I didn’t always know where they were. It was so good, I think the kids were so happy and free, they seemed to create and invent with what was around, learn new games and were unplugged from any type of media for 2 weeks. The independence definitely suited my older son, he is looking for it right now (11).

    I wholeheartedly agree that there are important life lessons to be learnt that are better learnt outside. Risk taking, climb, coordination, negotiating risk, problem solving, creativity…how to not be bored 😉

    It isn’t always easier in the towns, well not where I am, just different things to worry about.

    It’s on my mind often too these days, I think it is an important part of childhood.
    Fran x

  2. I agree with this so much. I was allowed to create my own fun when I was younger and think it is so important

  3. I think Its important for kids to be independent as a child I was allowed to play on the streets, go to the park etc as long as I was back for lunch/dinner. I think these days people are scared to let there kids do that as you hear so many bad stuff that happen. As a parent I’d love to let my son to be independent as its important but am worried about him too.

  4. I get what you mean. I think I had a more opportunities to explore whole growing up than my kids have now. Not sure ho to go about it to be honest. Luckily they are still very young.

  5. The world has changed so much since I was a child, the things I was allowed to do and the freedom I had would terrify me if my own nieces and nephews were afforded that, though with modern technology it is much easier to keep in touch x

  6. I have never heard of ‘free range’ kids but it does scare me how times have changed or at least the environments have and it is no longer safe for children to have as free roam as before.

  7. I completely agree, we were free range too and I adored being left to my own devices. I do however remember the day that Sarah Payne got snatched in the very field we played in as kids, next to my parents house. I remember me and other villagers combing that field for hours on end. I remember my niece playing the part of Sarah Payne in the reconstruction.
    Whilst I know men like Roy Whiting are hugely rare it has made me more wary. I let my kids be as free range as possible , I let them explore, run free – but always within sight. As they get older they become mot=re streetwise and I loosen the apron strings but it is tough these days when you are so well aware of the dangers that are out there

  8. I was the exact same would leave the house and be out all day finding things to do, it’s a shame these days that never seems to happen xxx

  9. I wish my children had the chance to go off for hours and play, it’s a bit enclosed in London so not so easy to do plus it isn’t safe anymore which is a shame.

  10. Kerry norris says: Reply

    I know what you mean. I was the same growing up. We’d be out early and then wouldn’t come back until late at the time we were told too. I dread the age where my daughters want to play outside alone. I don’t know how I’m going to cope with it. Thankfully we are quite a while off yet x

  11. Even I didn’t have that luxury of exploring. I wish I did, it sounds amazing. Everything is just so built up and busy now.

  12. I agree with this post definitely! I was given much more freedom than I will be willing to give my boy. I’m currently trying to move out of the area I live in now to a nicer area so I can give him a little more when he’s older, but the area we live in now, I’ll never be letting him out. x

  13. I do believe kids should have independence but where I live it’s impossible. I live in a busy estate connected to a major bypass so there are cars always flying up and down the road. It’s a shame really I was like you out after breakfast and only returned when I was hungry. I’d love to live somewhere a little less busy…

  14. I hope the kids enjoy their summer! I was able to go off as a child to a point, but I didn’t live in an amazing area so mum did always know roughly where I was. Phil and I live in the countryside now, partly so that our kids can have a sense of freedom xx

  15. When I was young, It was the same, we used to go out and play straight after breakfast and wouldn’t come back until tea time. Even though I live in the same area as I did as a child, I often feel like when I let my children out to play that I am being judge by other parents and if I let them play out all day they would see me as a bad mother

  16. I was exactly the same, growing up in a village I was out all day and home for tea. We actually live in the same village now and are raising our kids in the same way. Obviously my youngest three are still too young, but my 12 year has been playing out for a long time now and it’s quite common to wave him off in the morning and see him home for teatime. It’s also a little different now with mobile phones as I do give him a ring at dinner, check he has got something to eat, see where he is and who he is with, but still, I love that he is experiencing the same in a world where sadly things have changed in a lot of ways.

  17. I was the same during the summer holidays, we used to play out all day. It was amazing, and I hope mic hidlren get to enjoy a little of that in years to come.

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