When you have a young daughter, the playground is an obvious destination for entertainment and exercise. Unlike so many things in life – cars, computers, wedding bands for men – the playground is only as expensive as the bandages you need to buy for a minor scrape or cut. And unlike so many places a child wants to go – Disney World, New York, the moon – it takes no time at all to get there.
So the playground, then is close, cheap, and it provides a wholesome afternoon of outdoor activity. Consequently, it’s a place that my daughter and I go to a lot. There’s usually nothing wrong with this, but after a while of regular playground trips the routine starts to get old. My daughter loses interest in the swings and no longer wants to hang on the monkey bars.
When this happens, I sometimes choose to stay away from the playground for a few days, choosing instead to take my daughter shopping or to the nature preserve nearby. But, sometimes, the ease and convenience of the local playground is too tempting, even if that spark it often provides is not presently there. On those days, I try to make the boring old playground a little more exciting than usual, normally by creating a game to play with my daughter. Here’s what we do:
Although the activity slightly worries me from a safety standpoint, my daughter loves to try out ingenious ways of climbing to the playground’s highest point. This often entails climbing up the top of a covered slide or shimmying up a metal pole. At the end of the day, she enjoys the challenge and I enjoy seeing her return safely to the ground.
Playgrounds often contain a good amount of sand, which provides perfect fodder for a hide and go seek game of sorts. To start, I usually take an object I wouldn’t mind losing – a sock or a plastic cup, for example – and bury it somewhere in the sand. Then my daughter gets to ask for clues and hot/cold indicators to determine where she should start digging. This game naturally lends itself to other sand-centered activities such as castle building and tunnel carving.
In this game, my daughter and I construct an obstacle course (i.e. up the slide, across the monkey bars, around the swings) and then test to see how fast she can complete it. It’s good exercise for her, an amusing spectacle for me, and she usually quickly improves her time over the course of several attempts, which allows us both to leave the playground content with our adventures.
So if you and your child are finding that your local playground no longer holds the excitement that it used to, you might want to try out these games – or make up your own – to spice up the experience. And, if that does not work, it may be time to test out a new, slightly more distant playground in the future.
This article is a guest post.