Outdoor play: three ways to make your local park more fun - MetroFamily Magazine
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Outdoor play: three ways to make your local park more fun

by Callie Collins

Reading Time: 2 minutes 

Oklahoma City family fun isn't far from home.

Right now is the perfect time to enjoy a local park. The days are often hot but not yet blistering. It's the perfect time to step outside and re-discover outdoor fun before hot weather drives you back into air-conditioned spaces.

This is June and it's still pleasant enough to enjoy some outdoor time with your child. You know why park time is good: it's free, your house is cleaner when your kids play outdoors instead and research supports kids' need for unstructured free play outside.

Wanting to go, though, isn't always that simple, between the fight over sunscreen/bug spray and just taking the time to go. 

Here are three tips to help make the experience more pleasant for everyone, including you:

Change it up: Venture beyond your neighborhood park or the usual one you visit. Looking for a new outdoor place to play? Click here for MetroFamily's just-updated list of local parks.
Plan a game: Work your way through a list of old-fashioned games. I took for granted that my kids knew how to play simple outdoor games like tag, hide and seek and capture the flag. It turns out tag isn't allowed at their schools anymore so they really weren't familiar with the concept. Remember what you had fun with at recess as a kid and see if it's worth teaching to your own children. Flashlight hide-and-seek isn't common anymore; being willing to supervise a round with our neighborhood kids has kept our doorbell ringing. Water balloons are next.
Bring snacks: Stay hydrated with watermelon slices, popsicles and fun drinks. If your kids won't eat fruit at home, take it to the park. It's suddenly more desirable for some reason, I think because it falls in the "that's better than nothing" category. Buy yourself the iced coffee you know you want and supervise in peace. 

Outdoor play is a huge topic for parents right now. There's a lot of online debate about how much to let kids go out on their own, how far and with whom. If your kids are older, set up rules and let them explore within limits that make you comfortable. My oldest is 10 and we're all about setting limits right now that let him mess up just enough to learn from the experience. 

Have fun this summer! If you need to find me between 6 and 8 p.m., I'm probably on our neighborhood park's swings or just holler out "olly, olly oxen free!"


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