*This is a collaborative guest post.
With so much for children to do indoors, we often wonder if kids get to play outside enough. There are certainly plenty of children who don’t get as much opportunity to play in the street as we did in our younger years, often because of traffic or lack of parks. One survey published last year found that a quarter of British kids spend less than 30 minutes each week playing outside. This lack of interaction with nature means some kids are missing out on typical childhood experiences such as climbing trees and learning about nature. In fact, one survey of 2,000 kids carried out by TV channel Eden back in 2010 found that 51 per cent of kids though the grey squirrel was native the UK and one in five don’t know which tree an acorn comes from.
Tree houses really appeal to children’s imaginations, whether they’re imagining they are king of the castle, defending a fort or holding their own private tea party, a treehouse can be a location for a great many daytime adventures. At night, a treehouse is a perfect spot for a little supervised stargazing and all of these special quests and voyages can take place without ever leaving the boundaries of your home. That said, if you are considering a treehouse for your youngsters you will need to be mindful of boundaries and planning permission – as any construction with a floor raised over 30cm above ground level requires planning permission, which in turn means you’ll need to pay a small planning fee. So, before you get building, check in with your local authority to see what rules and regulations you may need to factor in.
Unfortunately, there are far too many rundown playgrounds in our midst. If you don’t feel comfortable in the local park for whatever reason, you might like to set up a mini playground in your own garden, complete with slide, seesaw and park bench. The size of your space will determine what items you can reasonably fit into your private play park, though building your own needn’t be a super expensive affair. Take a look at this how to for tips on how to build your own seesaw cheaply.
In recent years, trampolines have become incredibly popular garden additions. When it comes to getting their hearts pumping, trampolining is fantastic cardiovascular exercise for kids. However, as the recent storms in the UK reminded us, it is crucial to be aware of safety with these items, which can be very large pieces of kit. As well as being properly fixed to the ground, trampolines should be fitted with safety nets and used with proper adult supervision.
It’s always reassuring when you can keep an eye on the kids as they play. Bi-fold doors like these from Creative Doors Direct allow full length vision from floor to ceiling, so you can watch how the little ones are getting on outside and allow them to run in and out without the frequent annoyance of slamming doors. They’re also a handy addition for entertaining in the summer as they make moving in and out with food and drinks so much easier.
A vegetable patch
Have you noticed kids are much more willing to eat fruit and vegetables when they’ve had a hand in growing them? You don’t need to have a large garden or even a lawn to set up your own little vegetable patch. Potatoes, beans, carrots, lettuces, tomatoes and herbs can all be grown in pots. Children love to watch small seeds grow into plants and too water and pick them too. Why not choose some seeds together to grow next year? You can then use your small harvest to cook things up interesting things in the kitchen together. It will save you cash on the grocery shop and you may just find they’re not only more excited to help you prepare food with the produce but more interested in sampling the results too. In fact, a vegetable patch could make hiding vegetables in sauces a thing of the past!
How much time each week do your kids spend outside? Is it hard to pry them away from the TV or their tablet or are they keen to head outdoors, whatever the weather? Do you have a play area outdoors or a patio garden you tend together?