One of the most incredible things about a sea change or a tree change is getting out of the high-density suburbs and into some open space where your family can stretch their legs.
Even with space to spare though prying your kids away from technology or moving them past their bedroom door can be a challenge. Getting your kids up and moving is so important for their overall health, both mentally and physically. You might not be lucky enough to have a nature trail or a beach at your doorstep, but the great news is you don’t need to, you can give your kids all the activity, fresh air and sunshine they need right in your very own yard.
Aside from the obvious benefits, there are extra bonuses to having your kids play outside. They expand their imagination, improve spatial awareness, express themselves, get in touch with nature and they’ll sleep better at night.
From a parenting point of view the most important thing is safety, from a kid’s point of view it’s the level of fun. So taking those essentials into account, here are some ways you can entice your kids to get some quality time outside.
Having other kids over is a great way to get your little ones out of their own heads and into some inviting play. The social experience is incredibly beneficial, especially for children without siblings. Having the group interact outside means less mess for you and more space for them to go wild and get noisy.
Having some activities ready will help. You can provide a basket of random props and see what games they create from it, or have some sporting equipment ready outside for them to kick a ball or throw a Frisbee, or even set up a paint station and let them get messy.
Organise some healthy food and drinks on a secure table or picnic rug that includes easy to hold plastic cups and finger food. Go with cuts of fresh fruit and savoury bickies to keep the prep time down and the health factor up.
Once your kids see how fun the backyard is with others they are more likely to go out and play on their own.
Don’t forget special occasions as well and really ramp up the entertainment on these backyard get-togethers for some serious fun for everyone.
• School holidays
The Cubby House
Possibly one of the oldest kids toys in history is the humble cubby. While there are plenty of fancy options floating about Pinterest, any size shape or construction will do. Kids are pretty handy with cardboard boxes or tree branches when they need to be as well.
A permanent cubby house won’t take up much space and looks attractive in the garden. If you don’t have the means for this you can create temporary cubbies with clothes racks and sheets. See what’s lying around and have fun constructing it together. It’s a great way to illustrate resourcefulness and imagination.
Once the cubby gets a green light the options for play and inspiration are endless. Invite others over for play dates to really get going, or go out and offer some cubby time yourself to get the ball rolling.
Pools and Trampolines
Some backyards just have that little bit of extra fun, like a pool, trampoline or totem-pole. These are items the local park just can’t compete with and keeps everyone safe and secure at home.
A trampoline is a perfect way to get your kids active, and again, the games they think up are endlessly unique. Unlike the old spring style tramps of the past, spring free options are safe and rewarding.
Pools are amazing outdoor treats, especially in summer, although it is important to always supervise your kids around water. Temporary inflatable pools can bring a world of pleasure and are a great way to cool off and have fun in summer.
Eating anywhere other than the traditional table is always lots of fun. All it takes to encourage some outdoor time is a rug or two spread out on the grass, perhaps under a tree, with the regular meal set out. A kids table and chair set also works well if you already have them, although you don’t need to rush out and buy anything new, your kids will find their own ways to have fun eating outside.
Citronella candles can add to the mood as well as keep bugs at bay.
If you have a spate of bad weather and are looking for ways to make indoor time more exciting for restless and cranky kids, a carpet picnic can be all you need to stimulate some creativity and open a new perspective on the world and get them cheery again. You can even include an indoor cubby to crawl into to eat.
When outside time is fun and satisfying your kids will be happy to play in the yard for hours. It’s a great win-win for everyone.