Attached Family Play: Outside Play Makes The Day Easier

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outside play

Ana and I playing in the fountain with Lucas. Photo: Suzanne Chirgotis

Outside play is so important. If my little guy doesn’t get outside time of some sort, his whole day is thrown off.

He will be more intense, trying to find a way to release that energy. Even his schedule gets thrown off, with him taking a later nap, which then pushes off his bedtime.

We don’t have a strict schedule. We follow a very loose time line. But if he doesn’t get fresh air and outside play time, the likelihood of me getting any personal time at the end of the day is small. I will be too exhausted and zonk out with him.

We are lucky living in Florida  the weather is usually nice for playing outdoors. We will spend an hour to two hours digging in the dirt, burying trucks, sliding, running and just enjoying nature. Right now he is about 19 months and his little imagination runs wild. He makes noises for his cars and trucks, buries them and slides them down the slide. Pretend play and running are the top two favorite activities.

If it is a rainy day, I try to get him to Gymboree for free play or a class, which is all very interactive and based on their current developmental stage. While it can seem pricey, if you take advantage of the free play and attend each class (they are flexible with make-ups), it is money well spent.

Sometimes the mall play area is good, but I am not a huge fan because the bigger kids take over and don’t watch for the little ones.The early morning or early afternoon, before school gets out is best. Some of them are great for hide n seek, or have interactive activities you can do together.

We also LOVE going to parks with splash pads. It cools us all off and Lucas loves squirting people and running his trucks through the “carwash”.

Spending that play time with him is not only amazing for me to watch and see the world through his eyes, but also to see him learn, grow and make connections.

Someone just pointed out the book Playful Parenting to me, which I have ordered and can’t wait to get into. It is based on the idea that,

“Playful parenting” is so important and so successful in building strong, close bonds between parents and children. Through play we join our kids in their world–and help them to:

• Express and understand complex emotions
• Break through shyness, anger, and fear
• Empower themselves and respect diversity
• Play their way through sibling rivalry
• Cooperate without power struggles

What kinds of activities do you enjoy as a family?

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