Some of my fondest memories as a kid were playing out in the street with our neighbours, and mum dragging us home well after the street lights had come on!
But things are not like they used to be 25 years ago! The evolution of portable technology and devices is so prevalent in our lives and that of our children’s lives.
Aussie health authorities recommend that kids have no more than one to two hours of recreational screen time each day. However, experts also recognise that modern technology makes screen time (and related sedentary behaviours) increasingly difficult to avoid.
For this reason, coming up with new and inventive ways to encourage kids to stay active and enjoy the great outdoors is very important for our family.
Whilst we enjoy regular outings to parks, swimming pools and other out-of-doors spaces – I also believe that facilitating a positive play environment at home will create healthy habits from a young age.
In Australia, we are blessed with some of the best outdoor weather in the world – so why not encourage our kids to get out and about in the backyard?
Here are 5 clever ways to make the humble Aussie backyard feel like bundles of fun for your family:
Kick it old-school
I like to think that some things never go out of style! Retro-inspired activities such as egg and spoon races, dunking for apples, or even hopscotch, are still just as fun today as they were decades ago.
These old-fashioned games are easy to organise using items from around the home – and will provide hours of low-cost entertainment for the entire family. Parents will also get to relish a bit of nostalgia, from the comfort of your own backyard.
Build a fantasy land
A child’s imagination is a wonderful thing to nurture and grow! Encouraging your kids to build their very own fort in the backyard will lead to all sorts of fantasy lands, imaginative stories and surprising scenes.
Can your clothesline (and some linen) become a princess’s castle? Is the back shed suddenly a superhero’s secret lair? You’ll never know what your children will think of next.
A backyard structure (such as a tent or tepee) also has the added bonus of offering a camping spot ‘under the stars’, especially during those warmer summer months.
Embark on a treasure hunt
Whether it’s Easter time or not – a treasure hunt is bound to guarantee exhilaration and excitement!
Whilst chocolates have traditionally been the go-to ‘treasure’ for most families, everything from toys to household bric-a-brac can be artfully rediscovered during a ‘hunt.’ (Op-shops are also a crafty place to find ‘treasures’ that can be buried in the backyard later.)
If you’re feeling extra creative, incorporate riddles, clues or puzzles to help boost your kids’ cognitive developing and problem-solving abilities.
Use versatile play equipment
Although outdoor play equipment normally requires an upfront investment – the addition of versatile pieces will help your family maintain a healthy, alfresco lifestyle.
Whether you prefer swing sets, basketball hoops or trampolines, there are endless games that can be invented using these types of equipment.
For my family, the Ultra Medium Trampoline from Vuly Play has provided us with endless hours of safe trampoline fun, in a protected and structured environment.
Splish, splash, splosh
On a hot day, there’s nothing more refreshing than playing in or around water. The good news is that you don’t need an expensive swimming pool to splish, splash, splosh!
Games involving inflatable pools, sprinklers, water guns or even just a simple garden hose – can offer an amusing source of family fun, while keeping your kids cool on a hot day.
And how much fun was the sprinkler under the trampoline on hot days?
Please remember that no matter which outdoor activity your family enjoys most, it’s always important to practice proper sun safety and slip, slop and slap! Enjoy the sunshine.