Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Backyard memories and Australian Outdoor Living

This is a sponsored post for Australian Outdoor Living and Digital Parents Collective

Image: Australian Outdoor Living

My brother and I were lucky growing up with a big backyard. It was huge compared to todays standards. We had three greenhouses, a carport, a rockery, a few gardens, an undercover pergola and a big grass area to play in. We made sure we explored the backyard as often as possible and I have so many fond memories because of it.

I remember sunny afternoons running around the clothesline jumping through the sprinkler in our togs. I remember riding our bikes around and around in circles until our legs couldn't peddle anymore. I remember making mud pies and eating them. I remember exploring the greenhouses pretending we were in a tropical rainforest. I remember backyard birthday parties with potato sack races.

I remember having an old school trampoline with devil springs that took no prisoners. Oh how I loved the trampoline! I used to lie on the trampoline looking up at the clouds for hours (partly because I was scared of getting zapped as I tried to get off). I remember trying to jump as high as I could. Most of all I remember the day my brother and I were jumping really high and he went flying over the edge, face first, into a pile of grass clippings and cow poo. I laughed so hard!

I want bub to have great memories of outdoor play too.

Unfortunately we live in a townhouse and only have a courtyard for her to play in. The saving grace is that we have a big pergola already installed which provides lots of shade. Other than that though the yard is pretty much a blank canvas and not exactly child friendly or remotely close to being a play area. Now that she's walking and looking to explore new areas each day I really need to start working on outside because soon the lounge room just wont cut it.

I've found some great tips on how to make a backyard safe and fun for kids in the free Australian Outdoor Living ebook - creating a garden for your kids. It's full of practical tips that can be implemented in backyards of all different shapes and sizes, including courtyards. When we first moved in (and for the last eight years to be honest) I didn't really have much of an idea of how to convert our yard into an exciting area for kids. I didnt want her to miss out on outdoor play though just because I didn't know where to start. The ebook has given me so many ideas on how to transform our yard into an area that she'll find fun and entertaining, but also safe for her to explore. It provides a number of creative solutions to potential hazards such as sun exposure and also has a comprehensive list of ways to keep your backyard safe for little people. It also contains a number of outdoor activities that will encourage kids to use their imagination while enjoying the health benefits of outdoor play. We may not have the luxury of a large backyard, but the ebook has opened my eyes to think outside the box and given me heaps of ways I can convert our courtyard into a fun playground for bub. These are some of the ways I plan on encouraging her to enjoy the benefits of outdoor play at our place.

A cubby house

I definitely want her to experience the joy of an outdoor cubby house. Ironically its one of the only things I didn't have in my backyard as a child and I was always jealous of my friends who had one. I just have to decide whether to get a traditional wooden style cubby or one of the plastic outdoor play gyms.

A place to ride a bike

Obviously there's not a lot of space to ride a real bike in a courtyard, but there's enough for her to zoom around on a ride on car, her first tricycle or even a scooter if she wanted to. We just need to fix the sloping pebblecrete under the pergola to make it safer for outdoor activities. We're currently locked in a continuous argument discussion over whether to change it to a wooden deck, paved area, or half paved and half grass. 

An outdoor chalkboard

We had a huge chalkboard in our garage as kids and I loved it. I thought we didn't have room for one here, but then I read about creating a covered outdoor chalkboard in the ebook and realised I could use the back wall under the pergola. Hooray problem solved!

A trampoline

I'm not crazy, I realise a huge trampoline or even the round springfree ones won't fit in my courtyard, but that's not going to stop me giving her a trampoline. Its a right of passage for every kid and shes not going to miss out just because we live in a townhouse. I'm either going to get a small floor trampoline or see if I can do a sunken trampoline in the corner patch of grass we currently have.

Hopefully that'll keep her entertained for a few years until we can afford to buy a house with a decent sized backyard. We're lucky we also have a lot of grassed areas within our complex where she can have a play too. Teddy bear picnics here we come.




If you need some backyard inspiration you can get your free copy of the current Australian Outdoor Living ebook here. Australian Outdoor Living are producing a series of guides and ebooks to help inspire Australian's to create their dream outdoor living space. The next ebook will be a guide to hosting the perfect garden party. You can also get other expert advice via the Australian Outdoor Living blog.


How do you keep your kids entertained outside?


Toni xx

Disclosure - this is a paid post for Australian Outdoor Living in conjunction with Digital Parents Collective.

Linking with Jess


30 comments:

  1. Oh I hear ya, I have two very active boys who long for the outdoors. Unfortunately we live in a town house as well and have a small space for backyard antics.
    We try and take them to the park daily so they can ride their bike, play etc. It's the only thing that saves my sanity but I do feel bad... I really want them to get to experience a big backyard some day soon. I do love the chalkboard and cubby ideas. I reckon cubbies are pretty ace.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think a cubby would be awesome (and not just because I'd play in it too!).

      Delete
  2. What a great eBook! My kids are all grown up now but we were lucky to have had a large backyard at the time. Nowadays we have a little tiny backyard because most of it is taken up with the pool. We recently fenced our front yard to give us extra yard - not for the kids but for our two dogs ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So jealous you have a pool! I've never had one in all the places I've lived. Well technically we have a kiddie pool but we haven't used it yet. We're lucky we have a public pool not too far from our house.

      Delete
  3. I can relate so much to this. My son's first almost 6 years were spent in a town house then a 2nd floor unit. We desperately wanted space for him to grow, play, have a puppy, etc. So when our friends relocated north and asked if we wanted to rent their house, we jumped at the chance. yes, it is a bit more expensive, but it is the lifestyle we wanted to give our son. he mostly likes to play hockey, soccer or baseball, now we just got a puppy he runs around with her a little bit. I grew up riding my bike all over the neighbourhood. I know times have changed, but they can have just as much fun outside as we did I think. -Aroha (for #teamIBOT)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh definitely, playing outside will never stop being fun no matter how much things change :)

      Delete
  4. Yes a tramp is a rite of passage, and we're BIG into chalk on concrete here. Anything that doesn't make a permanent mess or break something is done with gusto! Looks a good read!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I cant wait til she starts drawing with chalk its going to be so much fun watching her create art. I loved it so much when I was little. Yes the book's great - you should download it Em.

      Delete
  5. My boys are both bike-obsessed! I spend a lot of time walking up and down the street with them at the moment, so it's lucky we have had such a gorgeous, mild winter here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We live near a main road so I'm not sure what we'll do once she gets past the tricycle stage (hopefully move to a bigger place, fingers crossed).

      Delete
  6. My daughter LOVES being outside. She loves gardening, making mud pies and just running around. We are so lucky to have such great weather so kids can be outside and be kids

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep Australian weather is awesome, QLD especially :)

      Delete
  7. I love that spotty outfit little Miss is wearing. We had a massive yard growing up also. We lived along the river and spent most of our time exploring and adventuring. We have a small yard here. I would love a bigger one, but fortunately we have great parks close by.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We lived near a river too and used to go fishing there all the time. I'm just glad our courtyard is almost double the size of all the other townhouses in our complex so I still have a bit of room to create play spaces for her.

      Delete
  8. Great list. We never had a cubby but everything else at one point or anther xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What's with us all being deprived of a cubby as kids? Maybe they just weren't as popular back then.

      Delete
  9. I have a little back yard too, but thankfully it's big enough for a few outdoor toys. There won't be any big trampolines in there though. We did get Dyllan one of the little ones though that has a handle on it. It was only $30 from Big W and he loved it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thats the one I have my eye on Tegan if we can't do the sunken trampoline option.

      Delete
  10. We have to make the most of the parks and beaches around our area as we're pretty limited on our backyard space too. Would love to have a big tree where we could build a treehouse! How awesome would that be?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A treehouse would be pretty cool!

      Delete
  11. My lot had a big backyard, a trampoline, a cubby... you name it! But then again there were four rampaging boys and a tomboy so it was worth the effort just for the five exhausted little bodies at 6:30pm each evening!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can't wait until she runs around more and gets tired by bed time and its not a battle.

      Delete
  12. My kids keep themselves entertained outside and always have. We have a fairly big fenced in yard and I just let them go and be free!!
    I would love to have a nice yard but with kids and dogs and a car enthusiast it probably won't happen for a while!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd love to have a bigger yard too and a pool, I really want a pool.

      Delete
  13. I dream of having land for our boys to run around on. We have a suburban backyard and are lucky enough to have a pool, but I dream of chickens and big open spaces and yes a trampoline xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Chickens would be cool. I'd love to have a set up like Tanya (flood proof mum) where we could grow our own veggies and have heaps of room for chickens, but thats a LONG way off.

      Delete
  14. yeah my kids scored in the back yard department. we have toys and bikes and swings and a pool etc... anything to keep them out there lol They love it out there. If only i could get a laptop and a phone with a screen i could see in the bright daylight we'd be set. Thanks for linking for Sunday Brunch xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Im so jealous you guys have a pool! and swings! I forgot about swings, Hayley loves the swings at the park.

      Delete
  15. Great tips. I grew up in the country with a massive backyard too. Try 30 acres to play with. These days the kids I work with live in a Townhouse and they've only got a smallish courtyard. But they do have a massive trampoline!! I'm still working on my plans for the DIY bub-friendly backyard, but we'll get there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The lady who lives opposite us has a huge trampoline too, but they have no pergola so they can fit it in. We don't have enough room thats not covered to have a proper sized one (she'd hit her head on the roof if she jumped). Floor trampoline it is for us.

      Delete