Since becoming a parent, I’ve had to think differently about play spaces for kids. Don’t get me wrong: it’s wonderful to have designated playground areas for children in our community but just because it’s a space for kids doesn’t mean it’s the only place to play (or the best place for children to play for that matter).
I believe our society encourages too much compartmentalisation, and it’s easy to get caught up in the designated boxes already provided to parent in. When I first became a parent, I would immediately think of playground when planning time outside for my kids. Now I don’t. Playgrounds are right down on my list and I’ll explain why below. Plus this post gives some insight too: Playing with Kids (a confession).
Playgrounds do provide space, but when you look out at the wide blue wonder of the sea, now that is what I call space. It’s not always possible for my kids to experience the wonder of being at the beach, but I look for similar opportunities where I can.
There are wonderful playgrounds that stimulate creative play. However, I love to give my children the opportunity to make their own play too, without stereotypical play equipment.
I think it’s important for my kids to play at a distance from me sometimes, especially as my kids are now out of the toddler stage. However, safety is always a concern to me, so it can be hard to find the balance. When I’m in wide open spaces, I can see the kids clearly (to keep a close eye on them) without crowding their game.
Popular playgrounds are filled with kids. While it’s important for my children to learn to consider others when they play (and they learn this in a variety of environments), sometimes being in a playground can hinder play. For example, my kids often play with sicks in a variety of ways, but I ask them to refrain when they are a playground, out of respect for young children and others who may not feel comfortable with the concept.
The fact is, when it comes to my children, the freedom of being in a stress free and open environment stimulates the most creative play. The play that lasts for hours! This is the sort of play I value the most so I foster it as much as I can.
Play Spaces We Love
If you follow me on instagram, you will often see pictures of me with my kids in open spaces. Many have asked if we live in the country. We don’t. We live in your average suburban block. It’s amazing what you find around your neighbourhood when you explore a little. Below are pictures (taken with my iPhone) of our favourites places to play and explore close to home (10-15 minutes away).
Below are other outdoor spaces the kids like to play in. I watch my children create amazing games in these spaces, filled with construction, planning, pretend play, creativity, climbing, balancing and team work.
The beach is always gold. All that water — the air, the sand, the sun — it all spells freedom, doesn’t it?
Many creeks and lakes have park lands attached to them so it’s worth hunting them down. We found a secluded park and we spend many an afternoon exploring the banks and throwing pebbles into the water. I find it relaxing too which is a bonus!
Walking tracks are a wonderful place to to run and play. The kids often run ahead of me, often pausing to look at things along the way, and I tag along behind. Walking tracks are fun with scooters and bikes too.
My kids LOVE rocks. Rocks seems to bring out the most amazing pretend play games for some reason.
Trees are a wonderful place to play. Yes, they can be a hazard (like monkey bars) but there are many trees that are easy, and quite safe to climb.
Open grassy spaces are simply delicious.
On holidays, we love bushwalking as an activity.
I’m fortunate to have a sister who lives in the country. The kids LOVE visiting her place because there is so much space to run around and play. So, if you’re in the city, I recommend adopting someone from the country to be friends with. HA!
I will continue to visit playgrounds with the kids. However, our family is always hunting for other play areas to explore and enjoy. Instead of visiting a playground after school, you’ll often find us throwing pebbles into a creek instead.