I HATE titles for parenting styles: Free Range, Attachment, Helicopter, yadda yadda. Don’t we all have the same goal in mind? We’re just trying not to screw up our kids.
In any case, using the labels I have available to me, yes, I wish I could be more of a free range parent. I read blog posts of parents with kids the same age as Aric being allowed to play outside by themselves (with the parent watching from inside at all times, of course). I read about kids being allowed to play on a separate floor of the house with no supervision. About kids being able to go up and down stairs without needing to be watched.
I? Do none of those things.
I am what you called a highly paranoid, anxious parent. I don’t want my kid to go up and down our basement stairs alone (we have a finished basement which is where his playroom is slowly relocating to). I don’t want him downstairs when I’m not there with him. He could fall and crack his head open. He could get into the bathroom and get at the cleaning products. He could get into the storage room and find Tim’s tools or climb the metal shelves. He could get into the litter box. He could get into the office and … I don’t know …. find all the wires from the computer and play with them and somehow get electrified.
We have a big backyard, but it’s not completely fenced in so I can’t let him be outside for even a second because he could take off running down the driveway and into the street. Or he could chase his ball into the street. Or push his car into the street. Or the one second I’m not looking some strange person could walk up my driveway and snatch him up.
It was just this past weekend that I was able to let Aric play at the playground while I sat on a bench watching. I’m usually following his every move to be sure he doesn’t decide that today is the day he’s going to jump from the top. Not gonna lie, we didn’t stay at the park too long. I was too paranoid that the longer we stayed, the more likely he’d be to fall. (Which, oddly enough, he DID fall. He rolled right off the jumpy bridge which was only 2 feet off the ground but only swallowed a little bit of sand.)
I can’t keep living like this, I know that. Especially when the baby comes. I’m only one person, I can’t keep constant tabs on TWO children at all times. Even more, I don’t want my anxiety and paranoia to rub off on him.
Earlier this week Tim told me that when I was at class, Aric was being a bit obnoxious while he was cooking dinner, so he sent him to the basement to play while he made dinner. And Aric did just fine. So the next night, Tim and I made dinner together. Since Tim was with me, I wanted to “practice” letting Aric have playtime in the basement. Granted I made Tim check on him every 5 minutes, I made it through, and Aric just played nicely.
So last night Tim worked late. And I was making lasagna and Aric was being irritating. So I took a deep breath, opened up the baby gate at the top of the stairs, and let him go down. And he survived. And I survived (though I did get a nice workout going up and down the stairs every five minutes to check on him). And I know he loved it. He kept shouting up stairs “Momma!! Aric play downstairs! Aric watch Mickey Mouse downstairs!” (yes, I had turned on the TV down there to try and stop the constant up and down. I can only handle so many time of him walking up and down those stairs)
This was a HUGE step for me. Soon ALL of Aric’s toys will be in the basement to make room for Abby, so unless I want to spend my entire day downstairs, I’ll have to learn to be OK with him being down there alone. Especially once Abby comes and I won’t be ABLE to be downstairs constantly.
I just have to take a deep breath and let go. My baby will be fine. I will be fine.
But it’s still going to be a while before he plays outside alone.
How old were your kids when you let them play alone on a different floor or outside? Am I really being crazy, or is some level of this ok?