Just Go Play

October 15, 2011 · 1 comment

This is a guest post by Shana Brenner.

“Go play in the yard!” That’s what my parents would say to my brother, sister and me when we were growing up and needed to burn off some energy. Raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia, with a yard that was big enough for a jungle gym, a t-ball game, a hill for sledding, this was a perfectly realistic place to kill an hour or two. It was easy for us to stay active because all we had to do was step outside and play.

“Go play on the sidewalk?” That would be considered my version of my parents’ commands if my daughter needed to get out of the house. My family lives in downtown Philadelphia so staying active requires a few more steps and a little more planning than the days of my childhood.

As the mother of a 2 year old girl (with the energy of a boy), I realize how important it is for all of us to spend time outside, away from the house, moving the body and exercising the mind, especially during this stage of development in her life. By keeping the day moving along, I can almost keep my sanity. We try to have a morning and afternoon activity with rest time in between. It could be something as simple as going to the playground or the park with our dog, throwing the ball around, looking for sticks and squirrels. There is so much opportunity for learning and exploring when you spend time outside, even just by taking a walk around the block. And you don’t have to spend a lot of money on organized activities:

  • Go to your nearby airport – there might be surrounding roads that you can see planes land and take-off up-close
  • Visit a local fire station – if they are not busy, they might welcome you in to explore the trucks and equipment
  • Local farm – apple picking, pumpkin picking, hayrides
  • Local farmers markets or festivals often have kids booths
  • Taking some sidewalk chalk to a nearby park or square
  • If you’re tired of your local playground, travel to another neighborhood and check out a new one

Of course there are plenty of more organized activities that your child can participate in such as:

  • Little leagues
  • Classes at local YMCA’s or Gymboree-type places
  • Trips to the zoo

If the dreaded rain falls, or you have unsafe temperatures that are too hot or too cold, don’t feel stuck or doomed to cabin fever. You have options. There are activities inside and outside the house that will save you from boredom and keep your kids’ bodies and imaginations in motion:

  • Bake or cook something all together
  • Have a gym mat on hand for rainy days – pull it out and practice tumbling moves
  • Build a fort
  • Put on a new kids CD and have a dance party
  • Make a playdate at a friend’s house – a little change of scenery can go a long way
  • Go to your local bookstore and browse the kids section
  • Go to an aquarium or planetarium
  • Go to a paint your own pottery store

So if you live in a city, you most likely do not have a yard at your fingertips. But your kids can still engage in fun fitness and educational activities. Active lifestyles leads to healthy kids…and happy parents. Sometimes urban parents just have to be a little more creative!

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{ 1 comment }

Mike Bluestone October 15, 2011 at 1:35 pm

As a kid I would play street hockey every day after school and on the weekends with friends in the neighborhood. Now days, I rarely see kids outside.

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