My kids grew up in a cul-de-sac. My daughter was born when we were living there, and the boys were 3 and 1 when we moved in. From a very early age, they liked nothing better than to play out in the road – football, bikes, scooters, water fights and bubbles or just running up and down. There was a tree to climb which they could sit in for hours, just chatting.
But we don’t live in the cul-de-sac any more and my kids don’t play out any more. We have a lovely, big garden but somehow the kids don’t want to play out there. They’re all active kids, with their football, rugby, dance lessons and their ability to walk a really long way, so I don’t know why they don’t want to go outside any more.
There are a few factors, and I’m not sure if it’s one of them or several of them put together:
- They think they’re too old for playing outside (unlikely, but possible)
- The XBox is taking up too much of their time (likely)
- Their friends don’t live there any more (likely)
- We’re not in the cul-de-sac any more (likely)
Our friends lived two doors down (we even moved into their house temporarily after they’d left!) and their kids were often outside. As soon as our kids saw them, they would sprint outside too. Yes, sometimes they would go inside to play computer games, but a lot of the time they would be outside. Without seeing them outside, my kids don’t have the same compulsion to play out.
Strangely, my younger son’s best friend lives next door. But the wall between our houses is very high, he goes to a different school and his house is actually on a different road, so my son doesn’t play with him that much. If he could see him playing out from the window, I know he’d be out there like a shot. And his brother and sister wouldn’t be far behind him.
I know my kids liked the freedom and safety of playing in a cul-de-sac. What they seem to forget, because they can’t actually see it, is that the cul-de-sac is just round the corner! If they would still like to play there, they can. But it seems like it’s out of sight, out of mind. And in the meantime the summer holidays are just around the corner and my kids are spending too much time indoors.
Any tips for getting some big kids motivated to play outside again?