Play time is a time to Bond
It is officially summer and Father's Day (Happy Father's Day to all the amazing dads out there!). We are finishing up our second week of being on summer break and although I am more exhausted than usual every day, I cherish these long summer days. I have two young kids who still enjoy playing on the playground, visiting the park and most importantly, hanging out with me, their mom! I know these days are limited and one day, their summer breaks won't always include me and definitely will not include playtime at the park. That is why these summer days are important to spend outdoors with the kids to allow you time to bond with them. The International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association (IPEMA) and The Voice of Play are promoting ideas to get kids and parents outdoors this summer. I am excited to share their initiative with families along with the tips below on ways to connect with your kids outdoors.
*** This post is sponsored by Voice of Play. I only share brands and promotions that I believe will benefit and be of interest to my readers. All opinions are my own. Read my full Disclosure Policy.***
Benefits of Playtime Outdoors
When summer break began, the first thing I did with my kids was celebrate with a treat and a trip to the park. I love that our city has an abundance of parks. We have been visiting a different one each week. I treasure our time outdoors together even though the heat here has been blistering hot! I know the time will come when my kids won't be excited to run around the playground. My little girl rarely needs my help to navigate her way through the playground's obstacles.
This proves, however, that the benefits of free play outdoors on playground equipment include physical, cognitive and emotional benefits which IPEMA highlights through their initiative. Playtime outside also includes social benefits. One of the reasons she also does not ask for my help is because she is busy playing with other kids on the playground and tries to avoid asking me for any help as much as possible. She loves making new friends and following after her older brother. It makes me a little sad but I'm so proud of her for learning, growing and becoming more independent which free play outdoors helps her develop.
Tips to Connect with Your Kids At the Community Playground
IPEMA asked us to share what our favorite thing is about visiting our community playground. For my family, it is the bonding time we share while we are enjoying playtime outdoors. It gives us a chance to make memories and encourages physical activity, as well. There are still several weeks of summer break left. My kids do not always want to just play on the playground equipment but it is a great starting point for connecting with them and encouraging them to be active outside instead of playing on the tablet or watching TV indoors.
If your kids are like mine who sometimes get bored of just playing on the playground, there are a variety of activities you can do while there so that your kids and you can still benefit from the emotional and physical aspects of being outside.
Here are some tips that you can do to connect with your kids while playing outdoors:
Use Your Imagination
Pretend the playground is something else like a pirate ship or spaceship. My kids like to do this and pretend they are going on a mission, influencing their use of imagination and teamwork to accomplish their "goal."
The playground equipment can be a fun way to play games like hide and seek or tag. My kids love hide and seek and having me join in the fun, too. Just be sure to discreetly peek constantly to keep an eye on your kids!
Use this time to teach your kids a few things about nature like the plants and how they grow or the bugs and insects that help the plants and our environment. Play a scavenger hunt to find certain things in the park and the one to find them all first wins a prize. Have your kids keep a journal of their outdoor findings. Let them take photos or have them draw what they see and record anything interesting about it. They can use this when indoors to research more facts about their findings online or at the library.
Bring Other Toys and Activities
Bring balls, a frisbee, kites or bubbles for even more outdoor fun! In between playing on the playground, throw a ball around for more physical activity. Blowing bubbles is always a magical activity for kids. My kids stay active while blowing bubbles because they make a game out of it where they run after the bubbles and pop them before they hit the ground. Bubbles make for great photos, too.
Playing outside is an easy way to keep kids active. Parents can use the time with their kids on the playground to get some exercise, as well. Have a race or play sports with the kids. Walk, run or jog along the trails if your park has one. Bring mats with you and do yoga or stretches together.
Connect with Other Parents
If your kids are enjoying playing with other kids, use that time to talk with fellow parents and make new friends or re-connect with old ones by scheduling play dates together at the playground.
What is your favorite thing about playing on the playground with your kids? Share and let me know, I'd love to hear it!
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