How To Promote Real Play For Kids

Now if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that it’s all about getting out into the fresh air and having a laugh with the kids.

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Making a playground in the bush is easy when you’ve got a few bits of pieces

On this site, there are many family fun ideas covering beaches, walks and Sydney’s wonderful playgrounds, especially those bushy, natural playgrounds our family loves.

I’m a passionate believer in the power of the outdoors and also in the power of real play.

There’s really nothing like kids and parents playing outdoors, being active together, running a few risks and learning to live life bravely and well.

Iona jumping pool

I’m not the only parent who is driven demented thinking about kids and outdoor play, of course.

There’s a real frustration amongst loads of us, we know kids need to do real play, the unstructured play with no timetable.

We know kids need to learn through trial and error, to negotiate and to learn the lessons that failure brings; the strength to keep on going.

Real play is messy and I don’t mean just dirty, it’s unstructured, some things work and some things don’t and kids have to adapt.

There are tears when Lego creations collapse, and there are shrieks when kids can’t get down from the trees they climbed up.

Iona handstand pool

But these testing moments in play are what create resilience, and the knowledge that strength really does come from adversity.

Even when we’re talking about snakes and ladders.

Do you feel your kids get out to play enough?

Is there time and space in your family’s life for real play in all its messy incarnations?

Seana’s Top Tips For Getting Kids Out To Play

When I was a little girl,my brothers, sisters and myself roamed around the fields near the house.

But now my kids and I are far from the countryside, living in the suburbs. These tips work well for us:

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  • Pack the kids up and get out somewhere new
  • If you are out of the house you can’t get distracted by the housework or piles of bills to pay etc
  • At a park or at the beach, there are no screens to distract anyone, so it’s easier to play with what’s there
  • Take a few props, like balls, buckets and spades, and some play figures.
  • Start the play with your kids, then as they get into it, fade yourself out a bit, so they can see where their imagination takes them
  • Take a picnic and a flask of coffee everywhere you go, this means you never have to disrupt the magic of play just to eat or drink
My underwater daughter


Let the Kids Play By Themselves

Now that my kids are older, I love that they don’t always need me around. Call me a slack parent, but I love a bit of space, a nanosecond of peace and quiet.

So I really encourage my kids to get outside and play, even if they take their toys out with them.

My twins, who are nearly 10 now, are both mad keen on sports, and so mostly they choose to practise, practise and practise some more. And we’re lucky to have some space in the backyard so they’re out a lot.

It might not look like real play, but it’s play to them and they are learning too much about persistence and about their own passions too.

Dexter muddy man

There are also washing tips in there too, quite handy for when the kids have really messed up their clothes.

Ideas for more play and less housework

I reckon the best thing I can do for my kids is to get them involved in the housework.

That way, they learn what needs to be done; we’re talking the bare essentials in my house.

And it means that many hands have made light work, and we can all get out to do other things.

Or nothing!

Real play also means lying staring at the clouds too, don’t you reckon?

Do you feel your kids are getting enough real play and play in the great outdoors?

Can you share your own tips on getting the washing out of the way ASAP so the family is free to explore and play?

Happy playtime

Seana x


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