3 tips to get your family playing outside in your yard.

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Living outdoors, it sounds so cliché. Remember this from when you were young? “JUST GO OUTSIDE AND PLAY” I now say that to my kiddos with good reason {and not just because a 1,400 sf home for a family of 5 is tight}. Did you know there are myriad psychological, educational and health benefits related to being outdoors for just 5 minutes a day.

So why did everyone play outside decades ago and no one does it now?  Neighborhoods are DEAD. Kids need other kids to play with. You can’t play “kick the can” by yourself. But with all the distractions, noise and activities its harder to find the actual kids. Right.  Decades ago, we had fewer distractions, we were told to go out and play and if no one was outside we’d just knock on doors and make it happen. By the time the kiddos came out to play we’d have invested so much time and energy into it we’d figure out what to play. It would be loads of fun you’d be more likely to go outside the next day and do it again. Hence, we tell our kids to go outside and play.  But it’s not that easy. We’ve actually gotta aid them a little bit these days.

 

Three tips to get your family playing outside in your yard this weekend. It’s okay, you don’t have to actually have a landscaped yard for your kids to enjoy being outdoors.

  1. Make mud pies, mud sculptures, mud bricks, mud drawings. Everything you need you already have…dirt and water. (For bonus play grab some sticks, leaves, rocks.) Set up the play area in any yard, front yard or back yard. Preferably an area where you have shade, if not you could throw up an umbrella, shade sail or just pop a hat on your kids. But here is the thing, if you build it they probably won’t come. I find I always have to get my kids started with the play for about 5 minutes or so when it’s something new. So think about something they are into and encourage that. For instance my kids just saw the Angry Birds movie with their grandparents, my son came home to our sandbox and started making a mighty eagle statue from the movie. He used rocks, sand, and a ton of water. Apparently the eagle sits on an island. Fairy houses are also a very popular thing to have the kids build and create. Basically, once you set up an area for dirt and water play the kids tend to go back to it regularly.sandplay
  1. Take to the streets. Grab a ball of any type and get your kids out in the street playing with it. Now a days playing in the street is a novelty for kids, which makes it even more exciting for them. First off, review the rules with them regarding safety, boundaries, and the words you’ll use to alert them there is a car. You’ll need to have a parent or older kid doing the spotting for the cars depending on how busy of a street you live on. When a car comes down the street you can say, “car” which means everyone gets on the sidewalk. You could say, “all clear” to let the kids know it’s safe to jump back in the street. Once you start playing in the street, you’ll have other kids in the neighborhood coming out to play. This activity really encourages neighborhood play. Be prepared to meet your neighbors and their kiddos. The more often you play in the more comfortable you will all get with the rules, safety and the more creative the kids will get with the play.640
  2. Hang up a rope with knots or make a disc swing. Kids love to climb and swing, it really encourages them to concentrate, builds their dexterity, and allows them to take small risks in safe place. You can easily and affordably make both of these items and then hang them on a tree. I made one of these two summers ago for my kiddos to use in the front yard. It’s been a kid magnet since then and has provided dozens of kids hours of fun. I was shocked at how something so inexpensive and easy to make would be so enjoyable. You can learn how to make a disc swing here.  For the knotted rope, you’ll want to get a rope that’s about 1-2” thick and at least 20’ long. (this will depend on how tall your trees are) Tie knots into the rope spaced a foot apart then tie the rope to the tree for hours of fun.

No matter how you get your family playing outdoors this weekend, the benefits will be profound for all of you both mentally and physically. I can’t wait to hear how it goes, share your experiences below in the comments.

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  1. says

    I love the idea of getting a sandbox back in the yard for my kids to play with. I’ve been trying to figure out how to get them playing outside for the longest time, and I think this might just be the thing that does it. In addition, hopefully it helps stimulate their creative side! One can hope, right? Thanks for sharing!

    • Jill Brown says

      Hi Tobias, Thanks for stopping by. The sandbox has been a big hit both with my kids and the neighborhood kids. It’s in the frontyard so that’s a win win for everyone. There was the concern about cats using it as a litter box at first but it hasn’t seemed to be an issue. Keep me posted on how it works for your kids!

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