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My kids have always loved being outside, but I have found that the key is having things on hand for them to do ahead of time. If they are left to find things on their own, they end up coming to the door asking a million questions all the time. If I am outside I am usually trying to get some things done on my own, which also can’t get done if I am constantly having to entertain my kids.
I have put together a few things that have been life savers for me over the years. In fact, they are things that can still keep even my older kids busy at times. Although they would never admit it 😉
- A bucket of soapy water to create their own car wash with. Obviously washing things that are metal is a bad idea unless you are drying it off right away to avoid rust, but anything plastic is generally fine as long as there are no batteries. My kids love washing anything and everything including sand toys, frisbees, and of course their big wheel type bikes
- A bucket of regular water and cheap paintbrushes. They love seeing their work while painting all over the driveway, but they can also paint the house, the cars, and anything else that is not harmed by water. This literally keeps my kids busy for hours
- Use that same bucket of water and a paintbrush, but this time you use it! Paint swervy, loopy lines for your kids to use to ride their bikes or scooters on, push things on like kid lawnmowers and shopping carts, or even pushing smaller push cars and trucks. The lines dry up, they get an entire new course!
- Separate and have special toys that are typically used indoors – things like Little People, Littlest Pet Shop, or any other action type play things for boys like Batman structures, Rescue Heroes, or even just Army men type figures for them to play with. I always keep my eyes peeled at garage sales or find some other way to buy these used since I don’t want to spend much if they are going to be outside. Even matchbox cars work well here. My kids are kept busy for hours with these kinds of things.
- Old dishes like bowls, spoons, and cups of all kinds are great for kids to make all kinds of soups, potions, or yummy meals with using their imagination. Outside is filled with stones, pine needles, leaves, grass, and twigs among so many more things. Of course they need to understand that these things are not actually to be eaten, but even my boys love “cooking” while outside. You can always find these things on the cheap, too
With a little planning, your kids can be kept busy outside with minimal involvement from you. Try a few of these ideas, or share some of your own.