Thursday, May 29, 2014

Simple Suggestion #206... Enjoy a playground

Occasionally, Shadow-dog and I deviate from our usual walking routes and take strolls down back alleys -- our neighbourhoods around here are in their 50s and early 60s already, built in a time when garages and garbage cans were hidden behind homes instead of out on the front curb. Back alleys are interesting places -- you can learn a lot about your neighbours by walking along the backs of their city lots.

In our back lanes, my eye is often caught by the glimpse of a derelict swing set or backyard climber that is weathered and unused... and I wonder why we parents do these things to ourselves -- spend a fortune on a backyard jungle gym, install it, have our kids play on it for their all-too-brief childhoods, and then wonder what to do with it once the kids have outgrown it, or even later, left home. By then, it's not fit for the grandkids! Who will probably prefer the brightly-coloured, usually well-maintained playgrounds in school yards and public parks. Running routes for games of tag there offer much better obstacle courses than the simple circle around the home climber ever could!

I'll admit that I grew up with a swing set -- across the street in a park in Plenty, Saskatchewan. When we came to the city, there was an old metal one under the trees in our backyard, the kind that, if you swing a little too heartily, one leg of the thing jumped off the ground. Our kids inherited a similar swing set (with a rather unsafe slide attached) from a neighbour (which lasted two summers in our yard before I put it on Freecycle and another mom took it -- sans slide and with two cans of spray paint that I never managed to use on its rust -- off my hands). But for the most part, the preference of the kids in all these scenarios was rounding up the neighbouring families and going to the local playground. Too much fun with the Dads chasing the runners around the equipment and the Moms visiting at the baby swings while pushing the little ones. Our kids preferred the park to their own backyards most of the time, and I suspect that most kids still like the wider range of social interactions that the park affords.

So I'd like to suggest that, before people go off to buy a backyard play set -- that has to be constructed, and someday, found a new home or demolished -- they spend a few evenings with their kids walking/biking to and playing at their local park. We don't all need our own personal playground -- just think of how many resources that requires. We pay for public playgrounds with our taxes or community fundraisers, and they don't require too much effort on our part. Plus, they're bigger, with more possible activities and room for more friends, so they're way more fun!

P.S. Looking for more Simple Suggestions? Click here.

1 comment:

  1. I agree, and am working on a natural playground for my little ones so that we're not encouraging the production of more plastic products into the world. I just had to share this amazing back yard play area with you, that I'm using for inspiration.http://www.mudpuddlestometeors.com/project-creating-a-natural-outdoor-playspace/ Truly beautiful!

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