Summer is here! Summer is here! Summer is OFFICIALLY here!! I know the weather has been a little confusing, hot one day, comfortable the next, plus some rain here and there but it is summertime and that means the little ones are home full-time. In other words, for the next couple of months we are fully responsible for what our kids do and don’t do, 100% of the time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The possibilities are endless.
Now, I don’t know about you but I am not a real fan of hot, humid, and sticky. You know, Ohio weather, the state that I have lived in my entire life! The air conditioning is really nice, my couch is comfortable, and there are great movies on throughout the day. It would be easy to spend the summer indoors, hiding from the elements, soaking up some much needed R&R, and enjoying scrumptious snacks. The problem with this is that it is wrong on so many levels! It’s a waste of time and more importantly, a waste of summer. It’s unhealthy, there are only so many times I can watch the movies available, and it’s BORING!
We could spend the summer swimming but we don’t have a pool. We could spend the summer going to the local theme park but that is really expensive. We could go to the zoo and pack a lunch but it’s kind of far away. For some, they are able to find adventures in the comfort of their backyard. Unfortunately, my backyard isn’t conducive to any form of adventure. You see, when we bought our home we were under the impression that we wouldn’t be able to have children. Rolling hills, garden boxes, and two dogs later, we have a five year old that doesn’t have anything to play with or on in the backyard.
At first I saw this as a real challenge or more like a thorn in my side. I would look outdoors and just shake my head because I had nowhere for my daughter to play. Unfortunately, she is a single child and doesn’t have a “built-in” playmate, other than mommy, to keep the days interesting. Needless to say, our summer breaks can get boring if we don’t plan activities. We are also a one income household and my middle name is Frugal. Vacations aren’t in the budget and neither are frequent trips to the zoo which is over 45 minutes away. Then there are local events and the amusement park. Entry fee aside, if one is charged, there is the cost of food and drink and that tends to be outlandish.
The nice thing about my daughter being five is that we are more social now. Thanks to walks in the neighborhood and spur of the moment play dates, when we find other kids outside, we have become better acquainted with the neighbors. This combined with becoming better acquainted with the area has afforded us the knowledge that there are a few beautiful parks with playgrounds within a short distance.
I planned out our first couple of trips, almost down to the minute and minute detail. From walking the trails, to looking at the ducks and fish in the pond, checking out the flowers, eating a picnic lunch, and playing on the playground. All fun things to keep a five year old full of energy and curiosity happy and engaged, right? The truth is I have no idea. I am yet to find out because I haven’t had to put that plan into action a single time that we have visited the park all thanks to the other people that visit.
One of the great things about children is that they create relationships and bond much faster than adults. Every time we go to the park we spend the entire time at the playground meeting new friends, running around like crazy, and having the time of our lives. Okay, I don’t run around for an extended period of time but I do what I can. As for my daughter, she could run around for hours on end! I always have to pry her away from the fun to hydrate, eat, and even take restroom breaks. And perhaps my favorite part, she talks about her “new best friend” constantly for at least a day or two after.
Would it be more convenient if I had a playset in my backyard? Of course. However, that would mean my daughter would miss out on developing social skills, confidence, friendships, and so much more. She wouldn’t run as much as she does. She wouldn’t laugh as loudly as she does. And she wouldn’t meet a new best friend weekly. For us, I will take the “inconvenience” of packing a lunch, jumping in the car, and taking a million pictures of memories that I am blessed to be a part of.
If you have a local playground in your area, I encourage you to take your little one(s) and go. Even if you have the most amazing playset in the neighborhood and three or four littles to keep each other busy, I challenge you to step outside the norm and head to your local playground for a day. You won’t regret it! While you are there, grab a picture or five hundred and share them with your friends and family using hashtag #SummertimePlay ~ let’s start a new trend!
For more information about the benefits of play and playground safety, check out Voice of Play!
Disclaimer: This post is written in conjunction with Voice of Play and a campaign with Sverve. Regardless, all opinions expressed are still 100% my own.