Sunday, April 10, 2011

I Would Never Let MY Kids Walk to School

U.S. Department of Transportation reports that in 1969 only 12% of kids were driven to school. Today, that number has quadrupled, while the number of kids walking or biking has fallen to a despicable 13%.

When I was a kid I didn't walk to school uphill both ways, but I did walk.  I walked in the snow, in the rain, when I was sick and once with a sprained ankle. We all carried our books in our arms because book bags were for sissies. And when it rained, nobody had an umbrella or a ride home.

I never once heard Mom say, “Hi sweetie, I'm here to pick you up 'cause it's raining. Here are your headphones so you can watch a movie on the ride home.” And somehow I think I’m much better off having never heard it.

We no longer build tree forts, we buy them. We don’t watch movies with our kids at the drive-ins. Instead, we drive while our kids watch movies. We control our kid's free time and read articles like “How to Plan the Perfect Play Date.”  Every morning I join the climate-controlled car line at the bus stop.  Is anyone else disgusted?

We all know that unstructured play is instrumental in the development of a well adjusted child, but still we follow the masses to soccer signups and cheer tryouts. Why should our children be left out? What choice do we have? The Let Kids Just Play article written by confirms that “unstructured play time is actually more important than homework.”

So, how can I combat this parental trend without ostracizing my kids from all of their friends? I have no idea, but for the next week, I’m going to use Mom’s translations for all my common parenting phrases:

I would sayMom would say
“Time for your Play Date”“Get outside and don’t come in ‘till dinner.”
“You need a Time Out”“You’re in deep shit.”
“Organized Sports”“Summer Rec, Pickup games and Curb-Ball”
“Helicopter Parent”There’s no translation. Abstinence is the only choice.

Sorry to cut this post short, but I’ve gotta get to the bus stop to pick up the kids. After all, it's raining, their book bags are heavy, and we have some play dates to plan.

How will you rid yourself of modern parenting?

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Please support me with your honesty.


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  1. I think that's sad. My mom said she and my uncle used to walk the train tracks home after they got out of school, and now if kids tried to do that they'd get the cops called on them and their parents would get in trouble. Hey, all I know is that my mom and my uncle made it to have their own kids. I just think this world is way too paranoid these days. Everyone has gotten so uptight. I'm not saying they don't have reason to, but I'm just saying that shouldn't rule people's lives.

    When I was younger, my cousins and their dad built a tree house together, and I loved going over to their house to play in it. They also built paintball forts and mounds to jump on their four wheelers. Things have just gotten too convenient for families. I think some parents want to just buy the pre-made tree house instead of building it because it's easier. I'm actually really glad that my uncle built my younger cousins' tree house himself instead of going out and buying one. It is really cool.

    Of course, I can totally understand why parents would rather buy the pre-made tree houses where you just have to install them, and I can see all the potential pressures put on parents and kids in this day and age. I just think it's sad that things have changed so much that that's even become an issue.

  2. Lauren,
    I agree with you 100%. When I was a kid I helped my dad build a tree fort for my younger brother. I think I got more out of building it, than my brother did out of playing in it.

    I am so ashamed that I have joined the masses, but I feel powerless to change. So.. I'm making my changes in little baby steps. Who knows, maybe next week I'll turn off all the cable in the house and we will all watch reruns of The Waltons.

    Thanks so much for reading!

  3. Hi!!! I'm stopping by and following you from Relax and Surf Sunday. I hope you'll check out my blog Frazzled Mama at and follow me back.

  4. I completely agree. I really am limiting my kids screen time and organized activity time and I do make them get outside an play most days (unless its raining or too cold or too sunny...or too buggy. heh - you get the point).

    I did tell my 8yo dd this weekend about my childhood and how I would be sent outside for the day to play. Her initial response was "WHEN did you eat??". Like heaven forbid there weren't a billion snacks around 24/7. hahaha.

    Kids these day...

  5. Zenaliciousmom - Thanks for stopping by and reading. I love the wisdom that comes from 8 year olds!! You know you're old when your kids ask, "What's a record?" - depressing!

    I'm trying to let go a bit and allow the kids to ride to town and tube down the river by themselves, but it takes every ounce of energy for me not to follow behind them. (and the're not exactly babies at 12 & 13!)

    Have a good one!

  6. I let my 9yo walk to the bus stop. I can see it from my front porch. There's no reason to drive him. He walks home from the bus in the rain, snow, whatever too. After he does his homework after school, he goes outside for unstructured play time until dinner. My kids aren't into organized sports. My 9yo said there's too much emphasis on winning. I agree. He took a photography class last year, but didn't like that it cut into his playing outside time. This year, *gasp* we have no organized activities. My kids go out back and play with whatever neighbor kids venture outside as well.

  7. Just covered this on my blog, Lol

  8. I really try to not be overprotective and let my kids be kids!

    They do walk to school and play outside with their neighbor friends all the time. The makeup games, the bike ride, scooter, skate, jump on the trampoline. We live on a dead end street with only 6 houses and if it was a busy street I wouldn't have the freedom to let them play out front like that. Needless to say we are moving and looking for a new house and being in a low traffic area is high priority.

  9. I am a new follower from Meet Me Monday blog hop
    please follow me back.

  10. Love your thinking in this post.Modern motherhood is way too intense. In my recent post I argue we're taking ourselves WAY too seriously. Check out Sunday Soapbox. It's new to my blog and looks like a great fit for your style. :-)

    In response to your question, instead of saying "what would you like for dinner, chicken nuggets, pizza bites, or mac and cheese?" I would say "We're having meatloaf. Take it or leave it." When someone whined about the menu, I'd follow up with "If you're not happy, you can make yourself a peanut butter sandwich." When they groaned about that, I'd say "then you're not hungry."

    My mom didn't act like a waitress/personal chef.
    Thanks for the revelation.

  11. I remember those days! I'm not sure what's changed. I grew up on a city block, and I stayed on it. My parents could walk out the front door and yell down the street for me. Now we live in a maze-like subdivision (and the internet has informed me that there are a few less-than-savory people residing here). My son is still too little to galavant around the neighborhood, but I hope that I have the wherewithal to kick his little dupa out to play. :)

  12. Can totally relate to this post. It was so much easier back then wasn't it. Trying hard to make it like that for our kids now. It is a challenge and a commitment though, a conscious choice. And I often think people find our family odd because of it.

  13. My vehicle does have a movie player in it, and while I know it's going to be cool for those longer rides. Some days I don't think I care bare to hear the same movie played over again. My 13 year old walks to school if he misses the bus. He takes a transit because is school is farther away. Only a couple of times I didn't make him go in the extreme cold. much like my mom did if it was really cold out. I'm lucky though. My kids would rather play outside and run than watch television.

    We do something organized for the kids though, because they are in between the ages of most kids in our neighbourhood. My oldest is in Cadets and we signed up the second for soccer. I'm not going all crazy putting them in everything and anything though.

  14. bwahahahaha... Times have definitely changed. Not only for us as a family unit, but society as well. lol.. Here to thank you for the follow, and let you know we are following back... Now, off to read more... (=

  15. We walked EVERYWHERE!!! Or we rode our bikes. And playdates? WTF??? We had Brownies, Girl Scouts, piano lessons, AND when we were in the 6th grade, we all (boys and girls alike) went down to the Biltmore Hotel in Atlanta for ballroom dance lessons once a week!
    In the summer, we played kick ball, dodge ball, and soft ball as pick-up games in an empty lot. We would go home at dusk, tired and sweaty!

  16. Love this post. My husband is probably the worst at this so over protective he wants to keep them in a bubble and they get in trouble when they breathe. One of my sons does walk home with a friend and the weekends are THEIR'S. They run outside and play football, get dirty, and climb trees (it freaks my husband out). They play video games when they want but they are centered in that they do not spend the entire day doing it.

    I plan family activities when we can but for the most part they get to chose what they do. Even their after school sports it is always their choice whether to join or not.

    Great post!

  17. My kids walk the two blocks to school. They play just to play with friends and with my help they built a tree fort.

    It's harder to keep them playing in this modern society of video games, television, and computers.

  18. Greetings from Southern California

    My name is Ron and I'm your newest follower. I invite you to visit my blog and become a follower if you want too.

    Take care and have a nice day :-)

  19. I'm 37 years old, and my mother *still* talks to me like that. At least, the second line anyway.

    Love your post. Will keep reading. Look forward to reading the book.

    P.S. my kids and I built a tree fort:

  20. This is an interesting post. I do remember walking home daily from school my entire school career. Now-a-days, people are so much more willing to kidnap or so something worse, it's sad to come to terms that you can't just walk outside anymore without wondering what could happen.

    I've lived in my city most of my life and know most of the town. But I still wouldn't let my son walk to school alone when he's old enough. I'd be very paranoid about it.

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