In our busy, modern lives, many of us just want to retreat to our own homes when the weekend comes. After spending the week at work and caring for children, the allure of some down time in the quiet of our own space can be hard to resist.
The good news is that you don’t need to leave home to have fun with the family and it doesn’t mean hanging out together indoors for the whole two days, either. As most Australians (around 75 per cent) live in a house with a yard, it’s possible to enjoy being outside… while still being at home.
- Go gardening
There are proven benefits for both adults and kids to get into the soil and dig around. Apart from the chance to grow your own fruit, vegetables and herbs, digging in the garden has been proven to improve mood, reduce anxiety and facilitate learning.
- Roll out the old fashioned games
There are lots of old-fashioned games from our own childhoods that we can play with our kids. Do you remember playing Red Light? How about What’s the Time Mr Wolf? Believe it or not, these sorts of games are still fun and can be easily played in your own backyard.
- Feel the need for speed
Studies have found that kids crave speed but we don’t need scientists to tell us that. Visit any theme park and you’ll see children queuing happily, eager to enjoy the sensation of being hurtled through space. The good thing is, you don’t have to go to those extremes to give kids the opportunity to experience the thrill of moving at pace. For most young kids, being pushed on a swing provides enough of the feeling of moving swiftly to satisfy their urge for speed, and a slippery dip or slide can do the same. Even better, you don’t need to leave home to let your kids enjoy the fun of slides and swings, with many options available to set up these sorts of activities in your own backyard.
- Scale the heights
Thrill-Seeking kids, as well as wanting to move quickly, also want to climb high. That can be a bit alarming for parents, but doing it in the safety of your own backyard can remove some of the risk and worry. A tree house might not be practical for most families, but a fort with multiple levels probably is, providing kids with a structure on which to play and experience the thrill of climbing without giving parents undue concerns.
- Water play time
Summer is perfect for celebrating your own backyard. If you’re lucky enough to have a pool – or, even better, a friendly pool-owning neighbour – lucky you! No pool? There are plenty of water games that will provide hours of family fun. As Australians we’re all aware of the need to conserve water, but water play doesn’t have to be wasteful. Water used in a paddling pool can be later used on the garden or better yet, fill a few water pistols and enjoy some chaotic fun – the garden is bound to get useful moisture at the same time.
- Celebrate nature
Kids like to be on the move, but you can harness that energy to help them explore what nature has to offer. If your backyard is small and suburban, you might think there will be little in the way of wildlife, but you could be surprised. Even in Australia’s cities there’ll be a few skinks, perhaps a butterfly or moth, ants and maybe even a friendly garden spider. Then there are the plants you can investigate with your kids – all in the comfort of your own space.
- Eat outdoors
There’s no need to stand on ceremony when it comes to eating outdoors. If you have an outdoor dining setting that’s great but a picnic on the grass can be even better for bonding. Get the kids to help prepare it then relax and enjoy on a blanket on the lawn. There’s something about eating outside that makes a meal just that bit more fun.
- Night time fun
The backyard isn’t just for daytime enjoyment, but many of us head inside once the sun sets. Instead, make the most of weekend evenings with some fun outside in the dark. In cooler months a carefully supervised fire pit can provide the experience of a campfire without the hassle of camping. For the less adventurous, how about a game of Spotlight? In this twist on the classic day-time game, the person who is in is given a torch and told to count to 20 while others hide. Then, they have to use their torch to spot the others in the game. Once a player is caught in the spotlight they have to freeze until everyone is caught or they are unfrozen by another player.
- The ultimate scavenger hunt
If you have a bit of time and the inclination to expend slightly more effort a scavenger hunt can be a lot of fun for both you and the kids. Give them a list of things you have hidden in the backyard and tell them to come back when they are found. The list can be as long or as short as you want and its complexity tailored to suit the ages of those playing. Use whatever equipment you have in your yard and make the kids work for their prizes – then lay back and listen to the squeals of delight.
Check out the play equipment range available at Bunnings in-store or click here to view online.