Originally Posted by IdentityCrisisMama
Our DC is 3 and we are transitioning to outdoor alone time. I would say that I am probably the more relaxed family in many respects - but not all.
I'd like to give a bit of support and perspective of the family who lets the 4 year old play with siblings. We do that and it feels like a really good way to function as a family. It's one of the perks of having older siblings!
I can't remember when I was OK with my child going into the neighbor's house w/o asking but I think it was probably over 4 and, honestly, even at 12 I like my DC to tell me when she's going into a neighbors house. To me that's just a way to be contentious and aware that I do check from time to time and I don't want to go hunting through neighbors homes. ;-)
I have a sort of relaxed preference that my kids play in our yard when they are not playing with the kids from other yards. I don't actually care if other kids play in our yard but I feel vaguely uncomfortable with my kids in other people's yard when they aren't there with them.
When my kids are playing in other people's homes I am generally a "house rules" person.
That said, I also like the idea of neighborhood rules. The kids in our neighborhood are outgrowing some rules the neighbors made together (no going down the hill to the public side-walk near the road). If it weren't for my 3 year old, I'd probably be fine with relaxing the rule but I just told the neighbors that I would prefer to keep the old rule for the sake of the youngest neighbor. They were all agreeable and understanding.
As for the front yard/back yard thing -- I think I would just tell the neighbor kids that your child isn't allowed to play in the front and if they want to play with your child they will have to come in the back. Likewise, if your child is not allowed to do something that other kids are doing in the neighbor's yard, I think you can just tell your child to come home.
As far as a neighbor not listening, I think maybe I would be very firm. "It's time for you to go home now." I would continue to give the child a clean slate each new day but I don't think I would have the energy or patience to deal with rudeness from a neighbor.
Thanks, ICM. I was feeling like my concerns were possibly too overprotective, but it sounds like you have a pretty similar outlook on it, and I think of you as a pretty relaxed/free range mama.
I'm actually pretty cool with the neighbor's little girl hanging out with her brothers (8 and 6 years old-ish) and no parents; I'm just not really cool with MY daughter hanging out with them! She's not too savvy in the ways of older kids, especially boys, and I know that their mom isn't really checking in on them much. Sometimes, too, the cousins and aunt are over and "watching" the kids, and I do not get a good impression from that family, so without knowing which adult is in the house, I have a really hard time letting my DD play over there.
The last time we had the little girl over, she was NOT cool with the idea of running back to her own house to go potty, and pretty much forced her way into the house over and over again and was very hard to get back out. She IS 3, after all. So that part of things is really awkward for me. She's a lot more headstrong, and I think used to a bit less in the way of boundaries, than my kiddo, so she doesn't respond well when I try to direct her.
I'm also really conscious of the fact that my own DD still is a bit needy for adult attention, and I don't want to put another adult in the default position of mothering her.
I feel like lately I just spend a lot of time sort of doing nothing for hours while I keep an eye on my kid playing with the neighbor's kids! I think that might just be the way of it until they're all a tiny bit older. I LOVE the idea of her wanting to spend hours and hours just playing outside with the kids. But...I just kind of wish I didn't have to be there, too!