16 May Kids still need to get outside in winter … which is where a cubby house comes in
When the weather turns a bit colder – and especially wetter – we grownups tend to want to stay indoors more, but we shouldn’t stop our kids from getting a regular fix of playing outside.
Kids don’t care about the weather like we do, in fact most kids love a bit of mud. Just because it’s such a chore to do more washing more often, should we really be depriving them of the fun to be had by splashing around in the rain?
“But they’ll catch a cold!” we hear you cry.
Wrong! They’re more likely to catch a cold indoors, with all the windows closed and the air being heated (keeping germs alive), recycled (sharing germs), and getting staler by the minute.
Fresh air is the answer. All you have to do is make sure they wear enough clothes to keep warm and (relatively) dry. We’ve never met a kid who doesn’t love gumboots.
Not to mention that studies have shown that kids who live in rural areas, with all the various things they’re exposed to, build up stronger immune systems than kids who are so protected from everything that their bodies get a shock when they’re hit with something different.
All the benefits of play
It’s not just about getting the kids outside into some fresher, cleaner air. They don’t suddenly have less energy to burn in the winter months, so they’re going to want to run around even if they’re inside.
Their physical development goes hand-in-hand with their mental and emotional development, because there’s a limit to the ways they can challenge themselves with indoor play.
As we’ve explained in previous blog posts When’s the best time to get a cubby house and What are the best things about having a cubby house, playing in a cubby is one of the best ways to encourage your kids’ independence, confidence, imagination, creativity, social and communication skills.
Tempting though it might be to take the easy way out and plonk them in front of a DVD or let them keep playing on the tablet for hours, you know that spending hours looking at a screen is really not the best thing for their development.
What can they do in a cubby while it’s raining?
The first thing that a cubby house offers kids is a virtual blank slate to fire their imagination. Encourage them to decorate their cubby, either by making some special things on a particular theme or by using things they can find outside.
They might even want to have different decorations to bring out on different days: it can be a castle one day, a pirate ship the next, a tea-party café some of the time, and a secret cabin in the woods when they really want some alone time from you!
Set them up for a winter picnic with some soup or hot chocolate.
Give them some paint, markers or crayons and paper and get them to make some decorations for all those trees that have lost their leaves for the winter.
Make the most of the rain by collecting some in a tub, making some boats – perhaps out of bark, sticks, and leaves – and having a race.
Or you could help them set up a series of empty ice-cream containers at various angles and varying heights so they can watch the rainwater cascade from one to the next – their own water feature.
A cubby house can just be ‘home base’
With a cubby as the centre of their outdoor play, there are lots of other things kids can do in the backyard.
You might want to make a path to the cubby using whatever’s around as stepping stones, or you might have to make a trip to the local tree removal company and get some ‘log slices’. If you put the stepping ‘stones’ just far enough apart that they have to jump from one to the next so as not to touch the wet grass, think of all that extra energy they’ll be burning!
What about deliberately gathering or even making your own mud pile or pit so they can make mud pies and try to build a ‘mud castle’ (like a sand castle, only messier)?
Or it might be as simple as exploring nature by collecting different samples of sticks, leaves, rocks, feathers, and anything else they can find to put on display in their cubby.
The sooner the better
It’s never too early to help your kids learn healthy habits, including the way they play. The sooner you get a cubby, the sooner they see having fun outside as a normal part of their childhood.
As well as all the benefits we’ve already mentioned – independence, confidence, imagination, creativity, social and communication skills – they’ll develop an affinity with nature.
And they won’t be put off by a little rain and mud.
Ask us about our cubbies
We can advise you about what sort of cubby house suits your family and how best to set it up for the ages of your kids.
Check out our cedar cubby houses and start planning your investment in your kids’ development and growth … and just maybe a little peace and quiet for you!