How Living In An Apartment Changes Our House Rules

by Sa'iyda Shabazz
Originally Published: 
David Oxberry / Getty Images

I have a confession to make — I let my kid play ball in the house.

Remembering back on my own childhood, playing ball in the house was a big no-no. Playing ball in the house is a questionable idea for a whole bunch of reasons. But most people will focus on the fact that things will inevitably get destroyed. Which totally makes sense, because duh.

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But here’s the way I see it, something can get destroyed or broken in so many other ways. When you have kids, stuff gets broken; that’s just the reality of living with children. And in my house, there’s a higher chance that something will get broken because someone knocks something over innocently than it getting hit with a ball and getting destroyed. I’m a klutz, I have no problem admitting that. My klutziness is just one of the many less than desirable traits my kid got from me. I mean, the kid trips over his own feet more times than I would ever choose to count. There have been so many time where he just walks by something and suddenly that thing (and sometimes him too) will topple to the ground.


Giving him the opportunity to play ball inside hasn’t really seemed to make the number of things getting destroyed increase. There’s always a chance, but honestly it’s a chance I’m willing to take if it means that he’s having fun.

There are caveats though. If he’s playing with a ball in the house, he’s playing with a soft ball. He also has to stay in a designated area of the apartment and he knows that he can’t be too rough or the ball gets taken away.

Sometimes he prefers to play with his soccer ball. While it’s a little harder than the soft rubber ball, it’s still better than, say, a baseball. Even though he’s got a pretty decent leg on him for a little kid with no formal training, he’s no Pelé. So, most of the time, the ball doesn’t get off the ground. And if it does knock something over, we fix it. If something spills, one of us will get a paper towel or the mop.

Frankly, things getting broken or spilled isn’t the end of the world. But my kid feeling uncomfortable at home would be.

I don’t want my son to feel so afraid of messing things up that he can’t feel comfortable in his own home. That doesn’t mean I’m letting him run through the house smashing things up. But that being said, we live in a home, not a museum. This house is his home too. Accidents happen. Kids should feel comfortable enough in their own homes that if something gets broken or spilled, they’re not worried into a panic about it. Yes, they should be mindful, but if they’re having fun and an accident happens, we deal with it.

Sure, if you have things that are breakable in your house, you have every right to want your kids to be careful around them. But, if there are too many precious breakables around, they are probably too anxious to really enjoy themselves. If kids don’t feel comfortable in their own homes, where can they feel comfortable?

That being said, my son knows the rules at our house only apply at our house. He would never dream of playing with his ball inside at Grandma and Grandpa’s house because their house, their rules. If we were at a friend’s house, he knows that balls don’t get thrown unless he’s specifically told it’s okay. I don’t just let him run wild like a bull in a china shop.

Oddly enough, the one time any major damage was done, my son wasn’t even playing ball. He was riding his scooter inside. Yes, I allow that too. He’s an impeccable scooter rider, but again, he’s clumsy. So things get rattled around or broken from time to time.


At the end of the day — stuff is just stuff. Sure, it has value, and I’m not dismissing that by any means. As a single mom, I work hard for everything we have, but I’d rather my son feel comfortable in his own home and be able to play inside on days where he can’t get outside. For us, setting boundaries still makes it enjoyable for him to live in apartment in a big city where we don’t have immediate access to an outdoor space.

In the end, we want our kids to have fun and just be kids. For me, that fun is letting him kick around a soccer ball, or zip around on a scooter, until he gets bored. Maybe one day it won’t be interesting anymore and he’ll stop. I’m just encouraging him to live his best life — and if that means something gets broken, I’m (probably) going to be okay with that.

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