Think of your own childhood. In mine, our familiy's warmest calmest memories were when we all flopped down in the back garden while "lazing on a Sunny Afternoon".
I was about to write a blog post about what "Perfect-Parent" would do to activate progressive outdoor play. But as I wrote, I recollected that we did have days where us two parents sat in the garden and the four kids hummed away playing in the garden.
There were also days when we sat down and it didn't work out, so I'll share how to avoid those mistakes. Additionally, Mimitoys has sold outdoor toys for several years and through our research, we have uncovered 1 or 2 garden-play safety points that aren't so obvious, so I'll share them too.
5 Outdoor-Play DO's...
1 If you have to nip into the kitchen from time to time, place the child play equipment directly within sight of the kitchen window.
2 Recent Grass clipping should be piled high within the main lawn area. Also leave the sprinkler in place on the lawn. There are hours of creative play with these items. Clear up isn't a huge task. Also use the sprinkler sparingly for eco purposes.
3 Create a mud kitchen. Kids from 2 - 6 absolutely adore the sensuality and creativity of a mud kitchen. We sell a fantastic one, but a few fours of handiness (and a spare sink) and you could create your own. Click Here
4 Encourage The Arts.
That's Music - namely spare pots and pans and wooden spoons and they'll ding dong away.
The Visual Arts - thatsfist sized stones and oodles of water washable paint. This last one should be played on the lawn and messy art hands and likely feet will need washing quickly (see sprinkler above)
5 Sand & Water Play. We sell a few options. Click Here, but again creativity can work wonders. Here's an odd one, can you park your car on the lawn? Do so, connect up the hose and get a free car wash. Kids love the job (don't use detergents though, bubbles in eyes or worse!!!)
5 Outdoor-Play Donts...
1 The Very Obvious -
No concrete / tar-macadam under any play equipment - They will fall and they will hurt themselves. Soil has an absorbancy in a fall but it may not be enough if falling from more that 1 meter in height. There is mad expensive impact carpets, or my preference is just put garden mulch underneath.
No Tree branches within 2 meters above play equipment - They will climb and they will hurt themselves.
No mowing lawn while children play - parents do and every year parents regret it....for life.
2 The Obvious -
No garden tools out and loose. They are heavy and sharp.
No dogs being fed outdoors during play - They are light and sharp.
No weedkiller applied on the lawn or near play area within 2 days of play. NOTE - I've gone through our weedkillers and researched it online and there is no mention of how many hours / days its safe for kids to play after application. Touch dry for adults means safe. But kids are more susceptible to toxins. If no notification on weedkiller container leave it 2 days.
3 The Not-So-Obvious -
No Natural Bar B Ques or Cheminees left unguarded as they burn down. Hours later these things are surprisingly hot - this one is from bitter experience when we had people over one Summer Saturday.
4 The surprisingly Un-Obvious -
No toddler/crawlers loose in the garden when bigger children 3 years plus are on moving play equipment, EG See Saws, Pedal Quads, Climbers, Trampolines. They will get hit by a moving play part or a moving bigger child.
5 Don't Buy a trampoline if....
It has no surround. The injuries from falling off are ligament damage and bone breaks. The ligament damage is the most severe.
It hasn't a complete isolation flap around the springs.Without this flap children's fingers can stray into a momentarily extended spring, that can cause excruciating pain when that spring quickly contracts.
It hasn't got a robust closing mechanism to the surround. Kids will bounce against the surround and if that access flap is loose, they will fall out.
I believe natural outdoor-play imprints a life-time set of privileged memories into a child. Afterall the best preparation to become an adult is to have a fun and complete childhood.
With outdoor play children can explore, experiment, expand, influence, change, marvel, discover, yell, sing, and create with natural materials and with each other.
Share with me any tips you may have. I'd love to hear. All the best - Mimi