If you've had to cancel your family trip, adventure to your backyard.
Spending time in your backyard is great for your health and well-being, and this year it can serve as a place for a family staycation. With the COVID-19 pandemic keeping more people closer to home, a backyard vacation can be a fun way to spend time together and build new memories as a family while spending time in green space.
The key step in having an awesome backyard vacation is to not overthink it. Just go with it and do what feels right for your family. And, don't spend loads of money either mama. Assess what you already have and make the best of it.
If you need help getting your family excited about a backyard vacay, here are seven ways to get you started:
1. Make a backyard staycation plan.
Put together a gentle schedule with a mixture of activities that your family will enjoy like dining, camping and games. Add a theme for the week, day or evening. A luau theme can be carried through with costumes, food and activities. A sports theme can have everyone in team jerseys and doing sports activities.
You can also use creative names for meals and activities to spice things up. Don't have a pool? Don't sweat it. Children's water play misters or sprinklers can help everyone cool off in the backyard.
2. Map where activities will take place.
A lawn area may be the site of a soccer game, bocce ball or croquet, but it can also double as an overnight camping zone for the kids in a family tent. Try a fire pit for roasting hot dogs for lunch or s'mores at night. Use your backyard for creating crafts, potting plants and having a picnic. We love using something like this genius U-stand for the picnic area to bring both shade and easy access to treats all in one place.
3. Assess what you have + consider their creative uses.
Lounge chairs, sports and play equipment can be used for their original purposes, but they can also become part of an amazing obstacle course, too. The wheelbarrow used for gardening and yard work can become part of a family field day. And that play set your children adore can become a breakfast spot or reading nook.
4. Spruce up your yard.
Mow the lawn and trim the bushes. Tidy overgrown areas. Add flowering plants and rearrange planters for visual appeal. Put delicate flowers in pots and out of the way of foot traffic. Now may be the time to add a picnic table, a badminton net or croquet course, planters, patio, grill, fire pit, or pergola to your backyard. The options are endless!
5. Organize for fun + relaxation.
Identify zones for different activities. Dining, lounging and reading may be best in shady spots. Sports, family yard games and tossing a ball to your dog may be better on a lawn that can handle rough and tumble play. Hammocks, lawn chairs, swings, picnic blankets and air mattresses can all provide a place for people to sit down and cool off.
6. Include teachings about backyard wildlife + nature.
Ask kids to take an inventory of the many birds, butterflies and other wildlife they see, looking up their species and background. Put up a bird feeder or plant a butterfly garden, as well as potted flowering plants to support birds and pollinators. Add wind chimes, rain collectors, or backyard thermometers and wind gauges to help kids observe science in action.
7. Design new games incorporating your green space.
Hold a nature scavenger hunt that's both fun, educational and tests your family's observational skills. If you're really feeling adventurous, create a "drive-thru" movie theatre by bringing laptops outside or a projector to show them on a sheet hung outside.
[A version of this was originally posted on TurfMutt.]
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