Unstructured Play – Here We Come!
Last week I was beginning to panic about not having summer activities planned out. I was frantically looking for activities to sign our 2-year-old son up for and trying to come up with ideas for our 14-year-old. Then I came across an article about the importance unstructured outside play. This article reassured me that my original decision to take it one day at a time and not be over programmed was a good choice.
So we have embarked on a summer where we “Fly by the Seat of our Pants.” Last Friday my little man stated he wanted to see a train. Fast forward one hour and we were sitting on the CTrain heading downtown with no destination in mind. Then we landed at the zoo where he was able to run around in the dinosaur area. We then turned around and went home via the train. It was liberating to go with the flow. Seeing the smile on my son’s face was awesome. The best part was when it was nap time it took a grand total of 2 minutes for him to fall asleep.
Yes, we do have a vague plan. For instance, we know we will be going to visit relatives. I have brainstormed a number of activities we can do. I will be making an activity jar for the days I cannot decide what to do that day. I will simply put a number of activities on pieces of paper in a jar. The day I cannot decide to the jar I go!!!
Some of the ideas of activities for our youngest is as follows:
- explore the neighbourhood
- feed the ducks
- indoor pools
- spray parks
- check out the many playgrounds in Calgary and surrounding areas
- visit Butterfield Acres (awesome interactive farm for children)
- backyard play
- visit the zoo
- bubble play
- throwing rocks in a stream or river
- water play with hoses and sprinklers
I then had another awesome realization!! I do not need to be the entertainment squad when my 14-year-old is here. He is an awesome young man that will follow along with his little brother if he chooses too. He is great at finding things to do. If he cannot, I will have a list of chores waiting for him! (A very easy way to encourage a teen to keep busy). I will admit he loves electronics but limits are a good thing!
My goal is to engage in as many child-directed play activities as possible. In a previous post, I explained how to engage in child-directed play. I am constantly amazed at how inventive and imaginative young ones can be when given the chance.
For example, we went to Spruce Meadows for the National Show Jumping event yesterday. We were in the line for our youngest to ride a pony. I originally thought it was going to be a painful wait. He kept himself (and me) entertained by running around (literally in circles), playing with some children he just met, picking grass, and then he starting practicing his gymnastics. I am so happy that I have made the choice not to worry about keeping my youngsters entertained all summer and refocused my plan to having fun and enjoying them as much as I can.
My wish for you is that you get to take time out for yourself and find things to do that work for you and your family.