On the way home I heard an NPR report about a new initiative to fight childhood obesity and I had two thoughts: man, that’s sad and I’m glad I’ve started on some lifestyle changes. One of the quotes from Michelle Obama was for parents to think back to when we were kids and we spent recesses running around and literally weren’t allowed to come in the house until it was time for dinner.
I loved it and thought about how on the weekends and during full days of free time, I always send the boy outside with strict instructions not to return unless he’s hungry. If I didn’t do this, he’d sit in front of the TV or computer. That’s no way for a kid to grow up. Sure kids who use computers regularly have higher reading aptitudes, but too much computer time can lead to a sedentary lifestyle. That’s not what I want for my boy.
The thing is that with the paranoia about pedifiles and the safety police on high alert most of the time, it can be hard for free-rangers like myself to allow kids the freedom they need to be active. And if you can’t afford to (or simply don’t want to schedule every moment of your child’s activity) pay for extracurricular like t-ball and karate, finding active options can be difficult.
What we need to do is bring back that village mentality where parents in the same neighborhood knew each other and looked out for each other’s kids and kids were free to roam their respective neighborhoods without the parents being accused of being neglectful. I’m fortunate to live in an area where the kids (and parents) are given just this freedom. Sure the kids get into trouble sometimes, but mostly, they just play and respect the responsibility that comes with their long leashes.
So here’s to a return of parental and childhood freedom. And to the healthy lifestyle that is being a free-range kid.
My son is not quite 8 and obese. I don’t help the situation by sitting on my butt all day on the computer. Like me, if he doesn’t move his body, he gains weight. No matter how healthy a diet (portion control included). It takes a lot of effort to convince both of my kids to go outside and play. Bought a swing set and a trampoline years ago for them to play on. The basketball hoop from Christmas 2008 sits unassembled in my garage (long story). Perhaps that’s what needs to be done to get them outside. We have hills to roll down and a nature trail next to the house that leads to the library … and yet we stay inside. Kymlee, this is my wake up call to get outside myself and start a free range movement in my neighborhood. Thank you!
Trust me, my raising the boy free range is mostly selfish. He has a ridiculous amount of energy and if I didn’t send him outside, he’d drive me crazy bouncing off the walls…or he’d sit on his but all day. And as I listened to Mrs. Obama last night, I thought about what she was saying. I spent entire summer days running around parks and swimming from 5-9 like it was a job. When I wasn’t doing that, I was outside riding my bike around the neighborhood, climbing the tree in the backyard, or choreographing dances with my sister. I’ve never been lithe, but being active helped me maintain a healthy body weight. I started gaining weight when I started sitting on my ass all day. Go figure. 😉
Thanks for commenting Lori!