Play: Playdates vs. “Can You Come Out To Play?”
I’ve done my best this summer to provide fun activities for my daughter to enjoy every day. But the truth is this: I work from home. I work more than full-time; I’m often still working long after my daughter has gone to bed. I try very hard to take some time each day to hang out with my daughter, but sometimes deadlines loom and it’s impossible.
As a kid, my mother worked full-time while she was also going to school. I was an only child and she was a single mom, so the phrase, “Go outside and play!” was common in our house. I would go door-to-door in the neighborhood gathering up other kids to play with. We didn’t schedule these “playdates” or make any plans or do any crafts. Instead, we rode our bikes or played tag or swung on the swings or explored the hills behind our houses catching lizards. It was a blast, and we would fill the days and weekends this way, only going home when we were hungry.
Sadly, being able to knock on your neighbor’s door to play is apparently no longer considered polite. We have neighbors a few doors away with children about my daughter’s age, but the mother has made it clear that she doesn’t want unexpected visits. It makes me so sad; her daughters are home, mine is home. Plus, even though her oldest is two years older than my daughter, she doesn’t allow them to play outside unsupervised. Which I understand, of course; we’ve been well trained by the media to fear for our children, even though in reality crime against children happens less often now than it did when we were kids.
I have to say I feel almost a grief about this change in our society; being able to wander (within reason, of course) as a child taught me a great deal about how to behave in public, gave me courage when it came to tackling new things, and also kept me physically fit because I was outside getting exercise all day long. My daughter doesn’t like to play alone; she doesn’t want to ride her bike or use her scooter around the block by herself. So while I’m working, she ends up sitting inside watching television or playing games on her computer (some games are learning games; she’s currently obsessed with a game teaching her how to touch-type). I’ve tried saying, “Go play outside!” when it’s particularly beautiful out, but she doesn’t see the point if she doesn’t have friends with her.
It’s frustrating. Eventually we’ll move away from this neighborhood (our house is a bit small to house three generations) and hopefully when we do, we’ll find neighbors that are old school and are fine with my daughter knocking on the door and saying those famous words, “Can she come out to play?”
Do you prefer the playdate or spontaneous "come out and play" approach in your neighborhood?
Cecily Kellogg is the mom of a six year old daughter, a wife, and the social media strategist forAboutOne, an online family organizer that turns your phone into a remote control for your life, working with your existing calendar and contact tools so you can automatically organize, store, and share family memories and household paperwork. Through web and mobile apps, AboutOne guides you along the path to organization, rewarding you along the way for meeting your organizational goals.Featured image courtesy of Flickr.