All parents know. The past few months have been hard. Turning your home into a classroom, jungle gym, park, museum, and so much more can push the limits of anyone’s imagination. Although many consumer brands have risen to meet families’ new household needs, there’s only so much that can be done within a set of walls to transform our living spaces into COVID-19 centers of learning and entertainment.
However, for many parents, the answer to this challenge lies in thinking outside the box, or at least outside the house. For those with some sort of patio or yard space, warm weather over the spring and summer presented an opportunity to expand their social-distancing quarters into the sun. If you live in a part of the country where pleasant weather still allows you to get outside, it might be smart to make use of your family’s full space. Here are some ideas and tips for all the stir-crazy families looking to get outside:
First, you can consider investing in some family-friendly accessories for your patio or yard. This recent study analyzed the top-searched outdoor accessories during COVID-19, and found that among the country’s favorite items, certain products including outdoor pools, trampolines and playsets were especially popular. The full analysis, available here, also includes some adult-friendly accessories like grills and outdoor bars because parents need a treat too!
It could be a great idea for families with the means and the space to consider investing in play accessories for their outdoor spaces as was done by so many Americans this summer. Especially as the return to remote learning may leave many children feeling the urge to get active. Anything to get them outside while you are trying to juggle working and parenting from home!
Another idea for families involves turning backyard spaces into learning centers themselves. As can be learned from different education blogs, there are plenty of opportunities to work learning into your own outdoor spaces, providing children with new learning experiences that may be missing from their computer screens. This Edutopia blog suggests using chalk to map out historical timelines along the sidewalk and exploring local plants, insects and critters to engage your students in biology lessons.
Finally, extra-educational activities like family picnic dinners or game nights on the back porch can add some excitement to seemingly identical days. This summer, the New York TImes released a guide for parents on how to replicate the joys and excitement of closed-off summer camps at their own homes. But there’s no rules saying that the same ideas can’t be used this fall. The Times suggested going all in for special events and themes, which is a great idea to push your children’s imaginations.
For instance, if you want to offer a fun halloween experience for your kids outside, consider requiring full costumes, decorating your patio with jack-o-lanterns and paper bats, and even preparing spooky treats outside, like chocolate pudding “dirt” or dead man’s brains from gelatin.
There are truly so many ways to make the most of your outdoor space this fall. Whether your family buys a new playset or simply ventures outside for a nature walk, hopefully, you can turn to the fresh air to heal yours and your childrens’ quarantine fatigue. Hang in there by getting out there!