The month of October was unseasonably warm with record-breaking temperatures for this area of the country. It felt more like September than it did the crisp, cool fall we were hoping for. But in terms of spending days outside, it made it easy to meet my goal of spending time outside on a daily basis.
At the beginning of the month, the kids and I were in another area of town when we stopped at a park we had never visited. At this particular park I stumbled across a sign that forbid kids from climbing in trees – evidently a city rule. Rules like this really bum me out.
We allow our kids climb in trees and explore to their heart's content. They probably do activities that others might deem too dangerous, but we are believers in allowing our kids to immerse themselves in outdoor play, while also discovering their own limitations.
At this age they still have some degree of supervision from us, but as they develop more skills we step further into the background.
Our neighborhood park happens to have an old-school merry-go-round. These things are hard to come by and a lot of parents feel like they are death traps (like the see-saw that is long gone from most parks).
I recently had a discussion with another parent who was concerned about kids breaking bones from such contraptions. While I agree that all equipment has an inherent degree of danger, Daniel and I lean toward letting our children test their abilities in a somewhat controlled environment.
Out of curiosity I did a little research and discovered that, according to the CDC, playground accidents are most likely to happen on swings (40%) and climbing equipment (23%). Only 5% of playground accidents occur on merry-go-rounds (though to be fair, this is probably because they have been mostly eliminated from the landscape).
One article I read said that since playgrounds have been dulled down, children find other ways to push their limits, which in turn can cause accidents.
"Although there are potential dangers lurking in the playground, the benefits of play far outweigh the risks. Statistically it will probably happen: 75 percent of boys will break at least one bone, 50 percent two and 25 percent three. Girls have about a 50 percent chance of breaking at least one bone before they reach adulthood. So be aware and watchful, but if it happens remember accidents do happen and it probably was nobody’s fault – which is sometimes hard for parents to keep in mind when their child is hurt. Remember that kids are able to heal in ways that make the long-term consequences of broken bones much less concerning than in adults". – JEREMIAH CLINTON, MD
With two boys in our family, the likelihood of broken bones is high. We are not turning a blind eye to the risks but instead choosing to allow our boys to discover their own limits and listen to their own bodies.
This month our kids climbed trees, swam in rivers, and wandered in forests.
Jack learned some new bike skills that will be useful to him as soon as he grows big enough for a bike with gears and we can take him out on the trails.
As a family, this month we went to an outdoor music festival, explored the gorge at the Ocoee Whitewater Center, visited a farm, went on two hayrides, and took advantage of pony rides – a first for Isaac.
We camped and hiked with my family where Jack and his cousins had the freedom to explore trails and a little ravine by our campsite, meanwhile Isaac did his best to keep up with the bigger kids.
And because it was so warm, we even took the kayak out for a spin.
On any given day, you can find our kids at our neighborhood playground after supper (and many afternoons as well). They will be the ones climbing trees, jumping out of swings, hopping curbs with their bikes, and riding the merry-go-round...
October has been a great month to be outside. Our kids continue to get stronger while allowing their imaginations to run as wild as the woods.
A Look Back at Project Outside 365: January 2016 ⎮ February 2016 ⎮ March 2016 ⎮ April 2016 ⎮ May 2016 ⎮ June 2016 ⎮ July 2016 ⎮ August 2016 ⎮ September 2016