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To want my kids to go and play in the sunshine

45 replies

slugz · 10/04/2011 17:54

Dds aged 9 and 4, will not play unattended. We live on a carparking area that no-one else much uses apart from us, so they've got a large area of tarmac and 2 smaller areas of grass to play on. They've got a whole array of bikes, scooters, space hoppers, skipping ropes, bats and balls to play with. But you try to get them to play outside, they behave like it's a punishment.
We've had a very boring shopping trip in town this afternoon, and they were absolutely good as gold. 3 hours trailing around the shops looking for very specific plimsolls, not a problem.
Get home though and suggest that they play out for a bit and they grumpily oblige, reappearing every 5 mins to ask if they can come in. Now obviously today they could be tired from going round town, but this happens every time I try to get them outside.
If I let them inside they just sit down and ask for the tv/computer, which they know they're not allowed in the afternoon. I get irritated and tell them to 'just play' or they'll have to do jobs for me. They usually choose to do jobs, and end up folding laundry or something.
I spotted a little girl playing out round the corner today, doing dance routines, she is 6. So we invited her round to play. She was over the moon, since she's an only child, my kids were seemingly very excited. We got out all the outside toys, she started zooming round the carpark, jumping on and off stuff. Dd1 had snuck inside with a book within 10 minutes, dd2 invited her in to their bedroom. That's fine, but within about 10 minutes this girl said she wanted to go home because she wanted to play out side. Dd2 had been showing her every item of clothing she owned. I got my 2 to go outside with her again, but 5 mins later she went home because my 2 were just grumpily going through the motions.
Surely kids should want to go outside and run about like crazy?
I've just come out with the immortal 'JUST PLAY' again, and now they're sat on the floor in the lounge halfheartedly fiddling with the first thing they could find in the toy box. I've suggested to dd1 that she use the electronic set that she begged for christmas, been used about twice, she turned her nose up and carried on jabbing at the baby cash register.

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slugz · 10/04/2011 17:58

Sorry should have previewed that, I did paragraphs, but it turned into a big blob since I didn't leave an extra line space.

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Carrotsandcelery · 10/04/2011 18:05

Will they play if you go out and play with them? Do they need some games modelled for them? Do they feel like you are just getting rid of them?
I had this problem a few months ago when (fair enough) it was a bit colder. I soon realised that if I went out and "played" too then they were happy to play as well.
I had a go on the scooters, I got my bike out and wobbled rode around in circles. I helped ds practice pedaling on his bike with no stabilisers. Even if I was just out there chatting to a neighbour they were happy charging about.
After a few sessions like this they started to go out and play themselves.
I make the odd appearance but don't have to be out there all the time.

You could also try the reward tactic. Market getting outside to play as a reward for good behaviour. eg if your room is tidy you can have half an hour outside etc.


5Foot5 · 10/04/2011 18:10

I suppose the age difference between youd DDs might mean that it is difficult for them to play together. Do you think they would play out more if they had friends their own age?

My DD is an only child and we have a nice safe, enlosed garden. She would play outside when she was little but she much preferred it when her friend was round. I found the most popular things for playng outside with were a climbing frame and a play tent. She had a sand pit but wasn't that fussed with it.

She is 15 now and has spent nearly all of this beautiful day in her bedroom! Fair play she was doing homework for alot of that time but not all I am sure.


slugz · 10/04/2011 18:14

Yes, I do go outside and try to play with them. It's not actually just a problem outside, it's just irritating me more today because the weather is amazing and I know I'd have been out there as a kid.

So I play with them, inside and out, but as soon as I try to get on with anything else they stop and start whinging that they've got nothing to do.

I just get things like 'if we do 3 more circles can we come in?', dd1 is getting especially lippy about it, as soon as she wakes up and sees it's sunny she starts moaning that we're going to get them to play outside. Or, oh no, we're going to go to the park, aren't we?

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slugz · 10/04/2011 18:18

Dd2 goes to nursery in a different area so we don't know any local children her age. Dd1 is always asking for friends over, but it always ends the same. On her birthday I took 4 friends swimming, the 4 friends played together and dd1 just jumped in on her own. They came home for dinner and then went up to her bedroom to play. Sounded like they were having a great time. Went upstairs about half hour later to find the 4 friends playing spontaneously with everything out, and dd1 curled up on her bed with a book.

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slugz · 10/04/2011 18:20

The friends were trying to get her to join in by the way, she wasn't being left out.

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AgentZigzag · 10/04/2011 18:22

DD1's the same, she's just not an outside person, never has been.

But then we're not either.

I used to spend hours/days playing outside when I was younger, but still constantly whined to my parents I was bored or had nothing to do.

It didn't stop them kicking me out encouraging me to play outside, they just ignored the mosquito in your ear noise I made and opened the door Grin


slugz · 10/04/2011 18:32

What does she do then? Mine aren't much better at playing inside to be honest. Actually, dd1 is fine, if I let her read encyclopedias 24 hours a day (literally), at 200 miles per hour and great volume. But she's so skinny and pale I do like to encourage some exercise.
I think dd2 would play better but is influenced by her sister.

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AgentZigzag · 10/04/2011 18:41

Same as your DD1, reading/writing/complaining Grin

She doesn't watch that much telly and she has computer stuff she can play on but doesn't as a rule.

Even though I say things she could be doing, the larger percentage of her time is probably spent just mooching Grin


onceamai · 10/04/2011 18:47

Could you not have taken them to the park. Ours had a large garden to play in but were always happier playing in the park where everything was bigger and they bumped into other childrne.


slugz · 10/04/2011 18:53

Read the last sentance of my post at 18 : 14 : 34

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Easterfeaster · 10/04/2011 18:58

Ours spent nearly all day out. Dh, dd1 and I lay on the grass at the side of a lake and the youngest three entertained themselves with stones, sticks and water for hours.

Would they play better if you took them away from the house and all it's distractions to a park, or something nearby? Take something to read and leave them to it.


onceamai · 10/04/2011 18:58

Just read it - apologies.


Sirzy · 10/04/2011 19:02

Would your Dd not sit outside to read? Not the running around playing you want I know but at least she is getting some fresh air!


rookiemater · 10/04/2011 19:03

Take them out to the park with the only child. They sound like they aren't used to playing outside and need to learn to enjoy it and hopefully get to know the girl better.

At the end of the day as long as they are actively playing and not watching TV or playing computer games, it's not so dreadful if they choose to do it inside.


Easterfeaster · 10/04/2011 19:03

Slugs sorry, so they don't like the park either. I have never known a child who won't play when with other children in a large green space. That must be hard. On the positive side, they obviously entertain themselves well in the house. Maybe it will change as they get older.


AgentZigzag · 10/04/2011 19:03

Or just open a window sirzy? Grin

I always valued being pasty looking, especially in my goth days Grin


Carrotsandcelery · 10/04/2011 19:09

Slugz maybe you just have to accept it isn't for them. It sounds like you have done everything you could to get them out there.

I loved to read as a child - would they read outside? It would be a slight improvement maybe? A picnic somewhere gorgeous with a blanket and a book sounds blissful and could help foster a love of the outdoors under their own terms.

I do see your concern about exercise but if they walk round town and things like that then maybe that is enough.


SkinittingFluffyBunnyBonnets · 10/04/2011 19:10

Eee your DD1 sounds like me! I as always reading....what about giving them a project like a little garden each? Seed planting time is now....take them to choose some seeds and maybe some cheap ornaments....dig them a square each and help them design a garden.


Carrotsandcelery · 10/04/2011 19:10

Grin at AgentZigzag (and it is true that a tan is not healthy but kids do need their vit D)


Lulie110 · 10/04/2011 19:18

Could be MASSIVELY the wrong tack, but if they like learning, could you take them on a nature walk of a weekend? Eg get a book on identifying flowers/trees/birds whatever, then wander round the park WITH BOOK and see what you can find? Wont be the same as regular free play, but might be a start?


slugz · 10/04/2011 19:41

Yes dd1 will read anywhere, but that causes 2 problems. Dd2 then pesters continuously and won't give her peace, and to be honest dd1's reading is so intense and continuous that I don't think that it's greatly better than being sat in front of a tv for hours.

Gardening and nature trails are fab ideas and I think they'd really enjoy it. We do long walks which they like, but the added book could be good.

What I'm struggling with is the independant play though. I don't think it's unreasonable that they could get on with some play without me present. It doesn't have to be outside, but my house is very small, so you couldn't really do anything active inside. They just end up sitting and doing nothing if I don't let them have the tv on.

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slugz · 10/04/2011 19:44

I mean when I'm trying to do housework or whatever, not that I won't be there at all.

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AgentZigzag · 10/04/2011 19:56

I started a thread not long ago wondering whether I should be encouraging DD1 to watch the telly/play on the computer a bit more.

It's a fine line between the a reading marathon being a good thing and it being isolating and excluding other things.

I've decided to leave her to it, it might be a phase and could set her up with a passion for books for life, if it becomes a real problem I'll think on it again.


slugz · 10/04/2011 20:07

How old is she? Mine's 9 and this has been going on for about 3 years now, reading is literally all she does spontaneously. She only reads factual books.

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