Friday, March 25, 2011

Parenting Questions - one of many

If you've been around for a while or if I know you in real life, you already know that I have 4 beautiful children:
Nate, my 1st born - 5 years old and starting Kindergarten in the fall.
Danika, my only girl, 14 months younger than her older brother (so, she's 4) and  at home she is a Diva/Drama Queen all rolled into one - but at school, she's an angel...or so they tell me!

Dean, aka Baby B, one of the twins - although they look nothing alike!  18 months old and into EVERYTHING!

David, aka Baby A,  the other half of the twins.  My "baby baby"  - smallest at birth and still the littlest.  But don't let that fool you - he can hold his own.

 Up until this point a lot of my parenting has been "in-house" so to speak.  I haven't really had to deal with them outside of the house.  We have house rules and routines (which we try to stick to but aren't always successful with).  Things have been going pretty well lately - which totally explains why I have this feeling like we are facing a big change...

I think that we have reached a point where Nate (and probably Danika, too) won't be contained in the house this summer.  I think they are going to want to go outside and play.  I think they are going to want to spend most of the day outside.  Which has me thinking about how much supervision they need at 5 and 4 years old.

Not to say that I'm going to lock them outside and ignore them all day - but I do have 2 more babies to deal with and we don't have a safe place, yet, for them to roam around in outside.  I'm hoping that the yard next door (our new yard!) will be transformed into that place...but I have no idea how long that will take and the weather is bound to get nice before it is done.  I have taken the twins out in the stroller and walked around a little while the big kids play...but sometimes they are sleeping or playing and I can't go two directions at once if they are stumbling around freely outside.

I know my kids are still little and I really do feel that they still need a lot of supervision.  I also know that I'm very overprotective and petrified that I will make some decision that will cause one of my children to be harmed and then I will spend the rest of my life feeling guilty.  A decision like not taking the lid the whole way off the black olive can and just throwing the can in the garbage...those decisions can lead to a day or three spent at Children's Hospital.

In the same respect, though, I don't want to be the hovering parent.  I don't want to be that mom that is constantly standing 5 feet away from her child telling them what to do and what not to do.  I want them to learn on their own.  I want them to make their own decisions and either reap the benefits or pay the consequences.  I also want them to be safe and happy, definitely safe and happy if possible.  I am scared to death of bullies, though.  I am scared to death of people making my children feel anything less than amazing.

I know I can't protect them from everything but does that mean that I shouldn't try?  Should I be more like these women?  Free Range Parenting sounds like something I would aspire to do but in reality just not be able to follow through with but I haven't done a lot of research on it either.  Maybe it would be easier than I think.  I'll get back to you on it.

In the meantime, what do you do?  Do you sit on the front porch the whole time your kids are playing outside?  How old are they?  When is it okay to not have them within sight?  Is it ever okay?  I'm talking about riding a scooter or coloring with chalk on the sidewalk in front of the house - not 3 blocks down the street but also not in a fenced in area.