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