I remember when my oldest daughter was 4 years old, she asked me, “Can I go play in the backyard?”
She was referring to our balcony. In downtown Manhattan. A place where it’s actually illegal to climb trees.
And that’s when I sort of had an epiphany. I adore New York City but I wanted my kids to be able to play outside. You know, without bumping into our illegal balcony grill.
So we forged ahead to the suburbs where food is much less desirable but climbing trees is aplenty. As long as we give our kids time to actually do it. The truth is – it’s easy to get sucked into an array of organized activities like Mandarin Basketball and Knitting Hats for Polar Bears with Recycled Materials. (I think those are real activities.)
But children can’t just knit hats for polar bears. Obviously. They need time to just play.
Like the ole days when hair was feathered, we all drank Tab and thick gold chains were super hot. (That’s the 70’s in case you’re still super young with smooth, porcelain skin.)
Studies show play is an essential part of early childhood development. But the average amount of time that kids spend outside is down. Way down. Our recesses have been shortened (my own daughters’ have a 15 minute school recess!) and fewer kids have access to outdoor play spaces.
And summer is the perfect time to get children off the iTechnology, send them outside and let them explore their world. They can move, climb, build, skip, laugh, make up games, play in the mud, insist they are bored, realize you don’t care and then do more climbing, building and laughing.
Even if you aren’t comfortable sending them off on their bikes for 6 hours like the Lewis & Clark of the suburbs, you can still let them do this in your backyard or neighborhood playground.
Kids are ridiculously creative if we just let them… be.
I mean, I left my daughters upstairs for 6 minutes the other day and they had rearranged the furniture, gathered every doll and stuffed animal they could find and set up an entire imaginary school. My gosh, can you imagine if I left them for 7 minutes?
So here are some super great reasons to let your children get out and play…
— You don’t have to yell — “FOR THE LAST TIME, PUT ON YOUR CLEATS. WE ARE LATE FOR SOCCER TO SALSA MUSIC CLASS AGAIN!!!!!”
— Not nearly as messy as playing indoors (like no heavy furniture rearranging).
— When you tell them to go outside and play, you can crack open a Fresca, kick your feet up and feel confident that you are a parenting rock star.
Still not convinced? Well, take a look at this compelling video put together by Playworld Systems about the importance of unstructured play…
This post is sponsored by Playworld Systems. All ideas are my own. See you outside.