Remember when you were young? Did you have an adult watching you jump on the trampoline praising you about your amazing jumping skills with every bounce? No. You didn’t. You were probably even jumping on a trampoline that didn’t even have a six-foot net around it with a zippered door to make sure no one bounced off the trampoline.
Then, fast forward to now. Fast forward to the days of fully-fenced backyards, stranger danger and enclosed trampolines. Fast forward to the time that we’re so busy entertaining our children that we forget to teach them to entertain themselves, to play alone.
Don’t get me wrong. We entertain the kids, plenty. But there are some times when they just need to go outside, without the iPad, without the adults – and play.
Have you met one of those kids? One of those kids that is like seven years old and has been entertained their entire life? One of those kids that have no inkling what to do when they’re sent to the backyard themselves? Yeah. We know one of those kids. The constant sea of “come play with me!” despite the fact that there are other children around makes me crazy.
These Moms need to put on their ‘Mean Mom’ hat and send that kid Outside.
Despite the whining that I am taking the kiddo away from Netflix and the fact that she’s freezing in the seven degree weather; I send her outside to the backyard with a pair of mittens and her eighteen months old sister in tow. I tell her to come back in an hour. She can come back inside when she hears the time and is not to come inside unless someone is bleeding (or needs to pee).
Recently, a visit with friends fell in the middle of the regular outside play time – and the Mom was less than impressed that I was sending her kid outside for an allotted time because what were they going to do in the backyard for an entire hour.
We weren’t close friends – otherwise I might be tempted to laugh a litle. Confused, I mentioned to her that there was a trampoline, slide, a play castle, a water table, kitchen, endless sports equipment and the kids imaginations’ – and that they would find something to do.
This ‘Mean Mom’ is teaching them to play independently, use their imaginations and is giving them the invaluable social skills needed for them to grow up confident. It’s teaching the girls to work together, rely one another and play without adult direction.
Ten minutes later I looked outside and watched the kids. They were using the miniature and real size pumpkins with water they had taken from the water table to create a pretend ‘garden’ in the sandbox.