Finally the sun has come out! So with the chance of a little outside play for the kids I thought I’d share the outdoor toys that have stood the test of time in our house and that have been worth the investment.
1.) The Sandpit
My girls received this sandpit as a gift for their second birthday and it has been in use ever since! It’s a sociable toy, there’s never any fighting over it (as long as you have two spades and two buckets). You can get a few children round it – so great for playdates. It requires very little grown-up intervention (aside from the odd – ‘don’t throw sand on the grass’ – better still get some bark down to alleviate this sentence from your life) so it’s perfect if you want to get on in the garden.
It’s low maintenance, we got one with a lid and use it every night and the sand stays dry and clean. We clean ours out at the end of summer every year and replace the sand the next Spring. The Small Boy will quite happily play with it for almost half an hour on his own, pottering about. Bearing in mind it’s coming up to seven years old and lives outside (overwintered in the garage) it’s stood the test of time well. I think it has another three or four years left in it too if we’re lucky!
If you have more than one child then we found a double swing a great choice. Even if one is too little to go on it now, it’ll be worth it in the long run. It saves us lots of arguing about who’s turn it is and how long someone has been waiting, plus I found they will play longer on them sat together, side by side, than alone.
My girls received their swings for their fifth birthday and have not been off them since! We (Mr P! ?) cemented them into the lawn with a bit of ‘post-mix’ (dig a hole, pour in the dry cement mix from the bag and then add water from a watering can). This makes sure they’re really safe. My girls not only love to swing on them, but they also make-up shows on them, use them as a place in the garden to sit and chat to each other, eat a snack on and often create games around them too.
3.) The Watering Can
We have had kids watering cans in our garden for as long as we’ve had kids! They are one of THE best outside toys you can invest in. All mine have loved nothing better than filling up a watering can (to the brim!) and watering plants, flowers, flower beds, the patio, their feet, the wall, the doors and just about anything they can see! It’s slightly laborious with the amount of time you spend re-filling it for them, but a watering can session can last a good half an hour if water is rationed well! It always works well for us if there is at least one watering can per child (and spares for visiting children). You just have to be prepared for the inevitable clothing changes required post watering session!
We resisted buying the trampoline for a few years, for fears over injury and lack of available space in the garden. When the girls were old enough we worried that the Small Boy was just at the wrong age for it. But finally last summer, just as the girls turned eight we relented and bought a 10ft trampoline. We erected it as a surprise for them (trying to put it together in the hours between bedtime and darkness will haunt me for quite some time to come ?). However, it’s been a really good buy.
The girls use it as an additional space in the garden to claim as their own, it’s almost an extra room. As well as obviously jumping around like crazy on it they also like to sit and chat on it, enjoy a picnic on it and make up shows on it as it doubles as their stage. The Small Boy also loves to bounce around on it and I think it’s done his gross motor skills development the world of good. We try to manage the trampoline so that either the Small Boy is on it – or the girls are, but it’s pretty tricky, fortunately the girls are fairly patient with him and will take it in turns with him to bounce on it if they do happen to be on it together. Getting the 10ft one was definitely worth it for us for the extra space it allows for the girls to be on it (mindfully) together.
What have been your outside toy successes? Are there any others we should be investing in? Let me know in the comments.