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Creating a Grandkid-Friendly Backyard
No matter the size of your yard, introducing your grandkids to the outdoors pays big benefits.
Story and photo by Gerald McLeod
The other day, my 15-year-old grandson was helping me with some yardwork. During a break from the mowing and edging, he said, “You know, Pop, I have always thought you had the coolest yards of anybody we know.”
Nana and I never invested in swing sets or forts that would see limited use for a few years. The closest we ever came to a permanent playground structure was a large cardboard box left behind from an appliance delivery.
Instead, whenever our grandsons visited, we asked them to help us with projects in the yard. There were garden beds that needed to be watered, plants or seeds that needed to be put in the ground, and lots of leaves to rake into piles in the fall.
More green, less screen
We’ve all had a stressful year and a little outdoor time improves our mental and physical health, according to numerous public health studies. Whether it’s a walk in the park or a romp around the backyard, taking a break from technology to spend even a few minutes outside can bring big benefits.
Kids love to get dirty and there are plenty of age-appropriate garden tools, but you have to keep an eye on those rascals all the time.
Think at the kid’s eye level when pruning limbs. Be aware of potentially harmful plants, such as poison ivy and thorny vines and bushes. For a reminder of things to watch for, check out “Garden Safety With Kids”.
Spend creativity, not dollars
Free and creative play is the work of childhood. Having fun in the backyard doesn’t have to mean spending a lot of money or undertaking a huge construction project. The Artful Parent suggests making a tent from an old sheet, coloring with sidewalk chalk or using other simple and inexpensive items to entertain the grandkids.
Get them outside early, and if you’re lucky, they won’t mind coming back when they’re older to help with the yardwork.
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