Sunday, March 29, 2015

Go Outside and Play

I confess - I was a mean mother. I did not buy an Atari, or a Nintendo, or a Play Station for my sons. At one point, they did have Game Boys, but they lost interest after a while playing the same games over and over. And the youngest was eight-years-old when they got them for a long road trip we had planned.

My favorite thing to say to them was, "Go outside and play." I grew up outside playing with friends or by myself, and I knew it was healthy for them. They did not participate in away-from-home activities until first grade, so they had lots of time to play outside. They were also limited to one sport, scouts, and one other activity so there would be time for friends and play.

My boys had a great backyard with a sand box, Tonka trucks with a truck garage, a swing set, and a tree house. Each could ride his tricycle and first little bicycle there, too. When they got older, a pitching mound and home plate were added for pitching and batting practice. The grass in between was also used to kick around the soccer ball. 

During the winter, our backyard became the neighborhood place to be. Our house was at the top of the hill that was our property. A luge track of sorts was made on the hill through the trees - curves, big bumps for air time, a flat spot at the bottom to slow down and stop. 

Lights were added for night sledding and a sled shack was built so the sleds could stay at the hill. Of course, the track was iced over to make the sleds go faster. We discovered vinyl bean bag chairs were great to sled with - when you went over the bumps, the landing was softer than on a plastic sled or on ski pants alone.

As they got older, they continued to play outside, but the games got bigger - baseball, soccer, basketball, pick-up outdoor hockey, roller skating, hiking, swimming, and the park. And when they were adolescents and teens, tennis, skiing, and golf were added. 

The town we lived in owned a golf course that they offered free lessons for school-aged children. It was $60 per child per season if they wanted to golf outside of lesson time. They were smart - get them golfing when they are young, and they will buy adult memberships later on.

The moral of my story is this: tell your children to "Go outside and play." Which reminds me, I forgot that they were avid bike riders, campers, and hikers, too.