Managing the risks to which children are exposed in contemporary Britain is complex, requiring parents to balance opportunities for a child’s development with an appropriate concern for the potential consequences. Managing risk is particularly an issue for mothers, who, despite societal changes, tend to retain overall responsibility for the care of children. This paper explores the meanings mothers attach to risk and how this influences their children’s outdoor play. It also extends the scope of much existing literature by including children’s own perspectives on risk in outdoor play. Semi-structured interviews were undertaken with 12 mothers who had children aged between 9 and 11 years old who attended a north-east school. Two focus groups were also held, each with six of the children. Findings are analysed in relation to mother and child constructions of risk; mothers and children as risk managers; and negotiating mothering choices. The paper pays particular attention to the way in which mothers’ decisions were framed within risk cultures and dominant views of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ mothering.