The kids are almost out of school (or, possibly, in your case they already are) which means we’ll be spending the next couple of months keeping them busy.
Every summer I assess our backyard needs for playing. Last year, since we were heading to PEI (and the beach daily) I bought some extra sand castle building items, watering cans and a beach ball. A few years ago I bought a sprinkler. I did have a really small pool that folded up when not in use, but it finally bit the dust this year (note to self: replace it).
At the beginning of the summer I shopped online for possibly play houses for the yard. Our space is small, but a 4×4 hours might fit. However, nothing stood out to me so instead I am leaning towards buying a wheel and play telescope for the deck and installing it there for imaginative play.
Naturally, the kids always ask for something to play with. They see a giant pool and want it. Or a bouncy castle. Or new basketball net (my son is now obsessed with the really tall basketball nets that many neighbours put in their driveway). What they don’t understand is that space is an issue, and that I’m not just going to buy everything in site.
So how do we find the balance between supplementing our yard and play box with the right toys, and not overspending (or overindulging)?. Here are a few tips I’ve learned:
1- Determine what is really needed.
If your goal is to have the kids play in the back more, what might encourage this? A sprinkler? Frisbee? T-Ball set? Those are all low cost items that provide a lot of fun. For a bit more money, one of my best purchases was our sandbox. Still well loved. Toys that are fads (that will get their attention for an hour then end up in the bin) aren’t worth the investment usually.
2- Get Creative
Instead of buying a full play castle, I’m going to mimic those structures with a few pieces on my deck. A wheel will make the deck a pirate ship, a car, a space ship all at various times.
3- Use your space properly
In my case, a giant play structure, trampoline or large pool will simply use up almost all of my yard, so they aren’t options. If you have a big enough space, you can decide what best suits it. In small spaces, shop for items that are the right scale.
4- Let the kids pick something (within reason)
Balls or small digger trucks are popular and seem to always get used in our back yard. Bubbles are probably the most popular (and frequent) purchase we make throughout the summer so when they ask, it’s an easy yes.
5- It’s ok to say no
Yes, those cool play things look like fun, but I have to say no. I can’t buy every cool looking outdoor toy they see when we go shopping so they’ve had to hear the word ‘no’ a lot. And that’s ok.
6 – Use the greatest outdoor toy – Mother Nature.
Rocks can build cities, sticks are fishing rods, the list goes on. Our Playmobil guys sometimes go on an adventure in the backyard which opens up a whole new world for them!!
What’s on your ‘I really should/want to buy…’ list for the summer?
Disclosure: This post is written in partnership with Mom Central Canada as a Fisher-Price Mom. I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.