In this age of computer games, X-Box, iPads and all things technical, how on earth can we encourage the little rascals to abandon shooting zombies to get a breath of fresh air and, incidentally, get a little bit fitter; after all, the couch potato should be the father, not the son (or daughter).
It is all well and good to simply say, “encourage them to go out”. But what interest has a tree, or a field or some bare tarmac to someone who is developing strategies to shoot the bad guys. Well, you have to make it interesting and encourage the imagination. Although the world is actually safer than it was twenty years ago, there are worries about letting children out on their own, traffic is much worse and there are fewer public parks, people also seem to be very worried about their children getting dirty, even though that is part of the fun. So what can you do?
Play with them, just to get them started, if you have a garden, even a small one, then you can get a climbing frame to fit and costs vary wildly, from inexpensive through to truly horrendous, as do the design of climbing frames. They can be very simple from ones you buy as a flat pack up to truly complex designs, for those with land and money, that can be custom made for you. You would also need to keep an eye on safety as well, but modern frames are safe and secure. If you feel a little paranoid, there are lots of different types of safety matting you can lay under the climbing frame.
So, when is a garden climbing frame not a climbing frame? Actually, all the time, it is a tank or a submarine (for the boys), a castle or a fairy mound (for the girls), actually, having said that, in this day and age, that can be the other way round of course.
A sheet or blanket will make it a tent, a broom handle makes it a tank or something to throw Action Man from (with or without his parachute), well, you get the idea, children have wonderful imaginations and the simplest toys can bring the greatest of pleasure and, incidentally, get them out into the fresh air. You will probably only have to bribe them once or twice. Try having some tea and snacks in the afternoon, once you get them into the garden they will inevitably start playing, especially if you invite their friends around too.
The flexibility of a climbing frame is in the child’s imagination. Encouragement and bribery both work and with the simplest of encouragement (you can always fake a power cut) you’ll get them out playing and don’t worry when they come back covered in mud and scratches, grinning like lunatics and drooping with exhaustion, it is all part of the fun.
Richard Lawrence is an enthusiastic commercial writer with many years in advertising agencies and other commercial enterprises. Passions include just about anything, he has a very eclectic thirst for knowledge but focuses on literature, art and technology. He writes for Dunster House.