children playing

Let’s Talk Playing Out

Right parents – let’s discuss.

There was nothing I used to love more than balmy summers days in the school holidays when I was a little girl.

Playing out on my bike (Which was in fact a galloping white horse in my head, natch), whizzing to the local playground and spending hours with my brother.

The playground was attached to the local primary school but open to anyone in the holidays.

It had a bike shed that was massive and smelled of cigars and wee for some bizarre reason that i’m not sure I want to find out.

Nevertheless, that became our den and one of my best days ever was finding a huge strip of some kind of bendy metal – probably toxic lead – that became my pet cat. I dragged that everywhere for a full summer.

We only went home for drinks and food and went to bed every night exhausted from a full day in the fresh air.


My children will never ever have this.

I will never, ever let them play out.

During this summer holiday, Niamh had friends calling for her to play out in the street but I can’t let her.

The world seems a scarier place compared to the one that I was in when I was her age.

The thought of her not being in my sight terrifies me.

Other children play out and I’m not judging. In some ways I wish I could loosen up a bit and let her enjoy the adventures that I did but my head is filled with tragedies like April Jones and Holly & Jessica.

I’m pretty sure that paedophiles existed at the time that I was hanging around in the stinky bike shed with my toxic metal cat but it just seemed that due to not having the internet, no one was AWARE of them the same.

Perhaps the internet has just facilitated these people and allowed them to form rings and societies that would have been more difficult to orchestrate back in the day.

I’m aware of the irony of me writing about my children and sharing pictures of them on the web but I feel like if I keep them physically close then I’m doing the best I can to protect them.


I’m really keen to hear other’s opinions on this.

When I ask how my parents were OK with us being out, they just tell me that times were different.

Things felt safer.

What is it that changed?

I think it’s sad that Niamh will never have such adventures with her friends or own a lead cat that stinks of piss but at least I know where she is.

The downside of this is that children today seem to be unable to handle boredom.

They freak out if the IPad runs out of battery and will spend hours watching someone unwrapping Kinder Eggs for hours at a time, zombie-eyed.


Is letting them have some independence the lesser of two evils?

Can we ever really protect them 100%?

JD xx

Dear Bear and Beany



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  • Joan Danner
    Posted at 19:37h, 19 September Reply

    My generation had the freedom to play out all day safely. The internet is great in many ways but there is a negative in that criminals and perverts have easy access to one another. In my younger days everyone was shocked by violent crime which didn’t seem to occur very often, now there are murders, stabbings on a daily basis. Sad times X

    • Denise Inwood Sweeney
      Posted at 10:26h, 20 September Reply

      You’re right Joan – also when we were little their were communities….we knew our neighbours, not so many mums working and everyone would look out for each other’s children. Children do have to learn independence, including not waiting for entertainment to be delivered to them on a plate (or an iPad lol) so we have to encourage their imaginative play in other ways. Saying that I don’t think I was out on my own at 6 …so hopefully you have a few more years before they ask to go to town on their own on a Saturday afternoon because ‘all’ their friends are allowed 😜 xx

  • This Mum Business
    Posted at 20:38h, 19 September Reply

    It is sad isn’t it? There was so much innocence in playing out for the day, no real child friendly electronics etc. Xx

  • Janey Jane
    Posted at 20:52h, 19 September Reply

    Arghh this is huge with us at the minute…….in our street there are a few kids that play out and they are lovelt

  • Janey Jane
    Posted at 20:52h, 19 September Reply

    ….they play

  • Janey Jane
    Posted at 20:55h, 19 September Reply

    Arghhh soz iPad playing up! They constantly knock for izz it’s a nightmare. But there’s just no way. It’s also pretty rough where we live. There are other kids swearing and roaring around on bikes and what not and of course then there’s the worry of who else is lurking. Statisically apparently there’s no more chance of a child getting snatched than when we were kids but it just doesn’t feel that way. There are kids near us with dummies still in out on there own. It terrifies me. Equally though I don’t want Izzy attached to an iPad for the rest of her life. We hope to move soon and I’ll reassess then but I do want her to have some of that, what we had xx

  • This Mum Business
    Posted at 07:37h, 20 September Reply

    It’s tough isn’t it Jane keeping them off the iPad. If I confiscate their stuff she’s bored within seconds. I’ve tried to explain that not letting her play out isn’t a punishment xxxx

    • Janey Jane
      Posted at 09:59h, 20 September Reply

      very, shes pretty limited on the ipad but id do feel awfu; when all the other kids are out playing, especailly as she doesnt have play with Zach really :(((

  • Kirsty - Motherhoodery
    Posted at 22:10h, 22 September Reply

    We lived near my school too and spent so much time ‘over the fields’ with the only rule being to come home when it got dark. There really wasn’t any fear from us or our parents. We had such freedom and it’s so sad today that we feel so unsafe in our local areas. I really don’t know how I’ll feel about it when my little one is old enough. x SharingtheBlogLove

  • Katy - Hot Pink Wellingtons
    Posted at 19:24h, 24 September Reply

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately after reading another blog post. As a child I played out in the street with our neighbours and we certainly didn’t have to stay within sight of our house. But we lived in a very quiet cul-de-sac, whereas we live on a busy through road. But it’s more than that, because I know I wouldn’t feel differently if we were on a quiet road, there’s no way I will be allowing my children to play where I can’t see them until they’re a certain age (not sure at the moment what that age will be). I do think there is something about the media, but I also wonder whether we are just a more anxious generation than our parents were – we seem to worry about everything! Thanks so much for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

  • Laura - dear bear and beany
    Posted at 13:25h, 27 September Reply

    I was the same as a child and used to play outside all the time and my parents couldn’t see me. I know that I won’t be letting my children do this, I just can’t be that relaxed about it. My friends daughter has just turned 11 and she has just started to let her go to the shop that is at the end of the road. But she still battles with that decision, but what age is it ok? I don’t know what it will be for me, but I know I am a long way off. Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove x

  • Sharing the Blog Love - Showcase 14 - Hot Pink Wellingtons
    Posted at 05:34h, 29 September Reply

    […] Let’s Talk Playing Out was a really thought provoking read from Jodie. I remember as a child we would spend our entire summer holidays ‘playing out’ in the street on our bikes with our neighbours. We didn’t have parents watching us, and we had a whale of a time exploring. There was just the one incident where my neighbour ate some deadly nightshade and we both ended up in hospital, but that’s by the by! I realised with a touch of sadness that there is no way that my son will have that opportunity. We live on a busy road (as opposed to the quite cul-de-sac I grew up on), but I don’t think I’d be allowing him to play outside on his own even if our road was less busy. It’s a different time now. What is it that’s changed about our society? Would you let your children play out? […]

  • natalie
    Posted at 07:30h, 29 September Reply

    Great post lovely and a issue we have right now. We live in a close just of a busy road and lots of other kids play out BUT it just doesn’t right with me. Again I spent summers playing out with my friends and loved it, It is so tough and I feel like I am the mean Mum of the close! #sharethebloglove

  • claire
    Posted at 08:04h, 29 September Reply

    This is a difficult topic for sure, I grew up the same, playing out all day, but will never let me son do that. I grew up in a tiny welsh town in the valleys, we now live in a large urban town near London… Yeah, not happening. #sharingthebloglove

  • Louise
    Posted at 08:25h, 29 September Reply

    I always used to play outside, our summer holidays were spent cycling around the estate we lived on and making dens in the woods. I will definitely let my son play out when he’s older, 8/9 Ish. I was only about 11 when the Holly and Jessica murders happened but it never stopped my parents letting us go out, we were lucky to live in an area where everyone knows everyone. Now I live on a nice small estate, where you can see quite a lot of it from our position and I know all my neighbours, so I wouldn’t have a problem letting my son go out and play when he’s older. I think that these things were all going on when we were younger, they just weren’t publicised as much and it all depends on the area you live in I suppose! #sharingthebloglove

  • Tooting Mama
    Posted at 11:15h, 29 September Reply

    My kids are a little older and I am starting to let them have a little more freedom, I don’t want to helicopter over them, I want them to have some independence and responsibility.

    It’s a little different here in France, kids are much more independent and are expected to be, and they are a more free. I think it’s ok to take a little risk every now and them, put away the iPad, and let children enjoy a bit more free time! #sharingtheBlogLove

  • Emma Plus Three
    Posted at 16:41h, 29 September Reply

    I totally get this. I remember playing out all the time when I was younger but I cannot imagine being comfortable with my children doing it now x #sharingthebloglove

  • Soppymum (Sara)
    Posted at 16:54h, 29 September Reply

    This really is so true, Arthur will never have the freedom my husband and o did when we were little. I’m sure, as you say, it’s just that we are more aware but I just think why take the risk. We can’t protect them all the time but I will certainly do what I can. #sharingthebloglove

  • Naomi Hassan
    Posted at 17:37h, 29 September Reply

    When I was a kid we always played out without supervision, but things have changed a lot in the last 15 years.
    I think it’s important to encourage independence but I am terrified at the thought of my girl going out without me!
    Naomi xxx

  • Alana - Burnished Chaos
    Posted at 21:21h, 29 September Reply

    This is such a tough one. I like to think that if we lived in a quite village my kids could have the same carefree childhood outdoors as we did. But when I think back to how far my friends and I used to walk and what might have happened if one of us had an accident that far away or got lost I know I could never let my kids have that much freedom and this really saddens me as they are some of my happiest memories. We have just started letting our oldest ride his bike up and down the lane at the back of the house (he’s 7) and I still worry.

  • Carolina Twin Mom / Mary Peterson
    Posted at 04:22h, 30 September Reply

    I also have been lamenting the fact that my children will live in a bubble world of my own creation, but then I remember that they do not know any differently. They have nothing to compare their existence to, so they don’t know that they are missing creating a metal pet cat or galavanting in a vacant lot, completely canvassed with trees. My hope is that I can help to spark their little imaginations in other ways, while still protecting their little bodies and minds. Thanks for a great post!

    • Jodie Danner
      Jodie Danner
      Posted at 19:02h, 30 September Reply

      This is so true! They have no basis for comparison!

  • Suchitra
    Posted at 04:45h, 30 September Reply

    This is such an important topic and opinions of all kinds abound. I had a simple carefree childhood too where parents just let us hang out independently and did not interfere in our play or squabbles. Learned a lot about socialization skills, negotiating, getting along, making friends and such without parental hovering. Safety wise, statistically, I believe we are living in a safer society today than we did back in the day. Yet, the exposure and awareness is so much that it makes us see danger even when there may not be any. #sharingthebloglove

  • Emma
    Posted at 10:22h, 02 October Reply

    This really resonated with me. I grew up in a street which was full of kids of all ages. We were encouraged to play outside, visit each others houses and ride our bikes around the neighborhood. I have lovely memories and feel sad that my son will not experience that growing up because I’m also scared. The world is a different place. #Sharingthebloglove

  • Emma T
    Posted at 16:17h, 02 October Reply

    We do live in a different world, but we’re lucky enough that when N’s a bit older, he’ll be able to play out and roam on the farm, and head over fields to friends up the road, and to his cousin’s. In a town I’m not sure I’d be so free with his independence.

    As kids my mum was quite strict relative to our friends. We lived on a nice housing estate on the edge of a large village. We were allowed to play out on the green in front of the house – kids from age 4 to 16 would play out there. The only essential was to be in by dark. As we got older we could go off the green and out of sight on the estate. Then cycling round the village. Other kids went and explored a wooded area at the back of an old carpet factory across the main road out of the estate, we weren’t allowed but did go on occasion anyway. There was rumoured to be a man with a gun and a dog in the wood, but I’m not sure if it was true. My brother and his friend got brought home by a policeman one day for exploring a coach they’d seen on the grounds there with an open window. I think we still need to let kids explore this kind of thing and I’m sure those in villages probably would be more secure in letting kids explore still. Although when I used to go home to my mums as an adult, it’s rare to see kids out playing on the green nowadays, even with their parents. I think older kids don’t want to just sit on a green, they want to go shopping, and younger ones aren’t allowed out..

  • Louise
    Posted at 21:59h, 02 October Reply

    I totally get this as I grew up in the country and played out for hours on end. We were always in each others houses and off on adventures. When I did my criminology degree I learnt about a theory called the fear of crime. This is caused by the over reporting in the media of crime which causes us to fear more. I worry about all sorts when it comes to my children. But sometimes I need to try and level my head to ensure I continue to promote independence whenever I can. It is a real mental juggling act.

  • Joan Danner
    Posted at 12:28h, 03 November Reply

    It is really sad that it isn’t safe anymore to let our children to spend holidays playing away from home unsupervised. When I was young there were abductions etc, stabbings and murders but they seemed to be just occasional crimes which horrified everyone. I can even remember some victims names after 40 – 50 years. Now there are many daily crimes that we hardly take notice of and certainly don’t remember most names. Is the change due to the dark side of the Internet, cultural population changes, punishments not fitting crimes etc? I don’t know but I do know that I wouldn’t want my grandchildren to venture out unsupervised today. So very sad!

  • This Mum Business
    Posted at 17:52h, 03 November Reply

    It is sad isn’t it Joan. The world is there to be explored but it’s just not worth the risk for me. Can’t help but feel they’re missing out though xx

  • Catrìona Aitken
    Posted at 18:06h, 03 November Reply

    Really sad 😢 I used to spend every weekend and holiday playing out in Swinley! In all weathers haha. I get it though, the volume of horror stories must be really scary for parents now x

  • This Mum Business
    Posted at 18:08h, 03 November Reply

    It is Catrìona. I was going to walk to Haigh Hall with Niamh last week but thought better of it xxx

    • Catrìona Aitken
      Posted at 18:09h, 03 November Reply

      Really?! I made Caitlin walk there with me when I was down last year, so many memories! Pretty sure she hated me for making her walk so much though 😂😂 xx

    • Joan Danner
      Posted at 18:11h, 03 November Reply

      I’d only do that in a group now whereas I often walked my dog on my own when young. I only go in mesnes park on a dry day when there are a good number of others about 😢 xxx

    • This Mum Business
      Posted at 18:12h, 03 November Reply

      Catrìona Aitken I’ll bet she did!!! 😂😂😂 xx

    • Caitlin Danner
      Posted at 18:12h, 03 November Reply

      It’s a two mile walk from the gates to the house and we walked there and back😂

    • Catrìona Aitken
      Posted at 18:13h, 03 November Reply

      This Mum Business Didn’t help that I beat her at crazy golf either 😂 #bigkids

    • Catrìona Aitken
      Posted at 18:14h, 03 November Reply

      Caitlin Danner Get used to it, London here we come! 😂😂 (OK fine we can take the tube 😜) xx

  • This Mum Business
    Posted at 18:14h, 03 November Reply

    It is a fair old walk! Bet you’d do it for 20 chicken nuggets 😂😂 xx

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