Why Kids (and Adults) Need to Go Outside and Play

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Back when I was a kid, my mom shoo’ed me and my siblings out the door to play every day, no matter what the weather. The only rule was, “Be home by dark.” Even though we sometimes grumbled, once we got out in the fresh air, we always had a blast.

Today’s parents face a whole different battle. In our modern world of endless on-screen entertainment, getting little ones off the couch and into the outdoors can feel like a Herculean task. Yet at the same time, we are constantly seeing the latest studies showing how important exercise and time in nature are to the development of our precious children. Our company specializes in solving this problem by creating one-of-a-kind treehouses and structures that entice children to fully utilize the backyard space.

Spruce up the Yard 

You’ll make the task of getting the kids outside much easier if you put the time into creating an enchanting backyard. Start by checking the area for hazards, like fallen branches. Then begin adding options for a variety of activities that will captivate young imaginations. Remember to offer a mix of active and relaxing activities so your outdoor space will fit every mood. A sand table, chalkboard, or hammock lend themselves to a creative, dreamy afternoon. For more active days, a treehouse, activity center or play structure fits the bill.

Make sure to design your space to facilitate “loops of play.” Dead ends cause a rupture in the flow of play, so allow for multiple ways up, down and around a structure. Some tried-and-true favorites are ladders, slides, fire poles, steps and rock climbing elements.

Lead the Way 

While it might be tempting to send the kids off to play and then hop back onto your own device, resist the urge! Not only can you teach your kids about healthy screen habits by setting an example yourself, but you don’t want to miss out on the fun! Seeing your child’s face the first time they conquer the monkey bars is a moment you’ll want to remember for a lifetime. To facilitate family fun, our structures are all designed to hold the weight of adults as well.

In addition, free play with a helpful—but not hovering—adult nearby allows kids to take age-appropriate risks that build physical strength, coordination and confidence. Imaginative play with parents or grandparents not only strengthens creativity and problem-solving skills but also serves as a supportive space for kids to practice social skills that they’ll need with their peers. Finally, playing with a parent is also a bonding experience. After some rough-and-tumble play, kids are often surprisingly willing to open up about other issues that are on their mind.

—Written by Barbara Butler with Piaf Azul.

Barbara Butler is the founder & CEO of Barbara Butler Artist-Builder Inc. She has been designing & building extraordinary custom treehouses and play structures for children for over 30 years, both residential & commercial, within the United States and internationally. 

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