Knock-knock-knock-KNOCK! … Ding-dong … DING-dong … ding-dong-ding-dong-ding-ding-DING! …. MOOoooooommmy! I wanna come inside!!
Do you hear that theme song played on repeat all summer? I do (and don’t worry, it’s not that I’ve left my child outdoors alone; Daddy is around the corner gardening but for some reason MOMMY needs to open the door!).
How to keep kids outdoors this summer!
Well! I had enough of the Ding-Dong-Song as I call it, so I arranged toys and gear to make our outdoor space more inviting … you know, to KEEP them outdoors and not trouping in and out over my clean floors!
With the help of some sturdy gear sent for review from Little Tikes, I arranged an outdoor play area that eliminates a lot of the issues that were driving my boys to ring the doorbell every two minutes (of course, one issue IS that ringing doorbells is fun …).
1. Store the toys outside!
If there’s toys, they will come. Yes. Where the toys are WILL be where the kids are. Half my problem, I quickly realized, was that we stored our outdoor toys in the basement. When it was outside play time, I’d bring a few things out for the kids. But of course, just five minutes after I’d gone inside, they’d remember that ONE toy I’d forgotten. And then ANOTHER toy. And then… what are they? Elephants?!
I was never so happy as when we installed a Little Tikes Toy Chest (affiliate link) on our patio. Okay, and when I say “install,” I mean, take-it-out-of-the-box-and-put-the-lid-on. Super easy and fast solution! Now we store all the sandbox / beach toys, balls, butterfly nets, baseball bats, bubbles, and other outdoor toys in this chest for easy access.
The two pull out drawers (not attached, just sitting under the chest) are great for:
- Small toys, so they don’t get buried in the larger toy compartment
- Sorting toys – whether as a sorting game itself OR to separate one child’s toys from another’s
- Mobility – the kids can put some toys in the tray and carry it to where they are playing in the yard.
The lid is easy to lift – it’s not attached but sits in a groove so you “slide” it open or take it off completely. I think it’s great that the lid doesn’t completely attach to the toy box because I feel safer knowing my children will never get stuck inside (should one of them have that brilliant idea of hiding in the box!).
My one issue with an outdoor toy chest is that since we’re using it outside… it fills up with water every time it rains. I know it wasn’t necessarily designed for outdoor use, and I think perhaps a few small drain holes will make a big improvement!
2. Let the kids eat outside!
Nothing’s worse than having kids happily playing outside, and then lunchtime hits. Either the kids come knocking and ding-donging for snacks, or you realize you need to feed them ASAP so you can get to that Euphoric Moment known as Nap Time! But once the kids are inside… there’s so many distractions and it’s hard to get them to go back OUT. So…. the trick is to never have them come IN for lunch. Put sandwiches on a tray and bring it out to a child-sized picnic table!
Our Little Tikes picnic table even has an umbrella and cup holders with a crayon tray, so kids can get into some shade while they eat. Besides, what kid doesn’t want to have a picnic, right? After lunch, have kids mellow out before naptime by bringing out some crayons and clipboards of paper for a little al fresco art session!
The Little Tikes table folds up flat for easy storage, and no tools required! You can fit up to six small children around the table (max 200 lbs per bench!). We’ve found this table is great for parties as well because now the kids have a place of their own instead of trying to wedge in around the bigger table.
3. Offer toys that get kids moving (outside, that is, not moving towards that door!).
Nothing says boring like sitting around waiting for something to happen! But toys that encourage action, and moving around the yard keep kids from that doorbell. They’ll simply be too busy having fun to want to come inside! A great new toy my kids will use for an extended time is our Little Tikes Gas ‘n’ Go Mower. It’s like the real thing only no grass clippings to pick up afterwards!
It’s a mechanical toy, so no batteries to replace (important, because remember, that would send kids inside. We don’t want that!). Kids can play at filling up the mower with a little gas can, pulling the start cord (with engine sounds!), clicking the key and throttle, and then pushing the mower to hear beads pop!
Seriously? My oldest son has actually pushed this mower behind his daddy for the ENTIRE front yard mowing! Check it out in my Instagram video:
4. Go outside with your kids!
Yeah, I had to say it. As much as we moms have so much to do inside (and dads too), guess where our kids generally want to be? Where WE are! So… get outside yourself. Even if you’re really busy, find some work that can get done outside (menu planning, reading, sorting papers), and at least work on a blanket or table near your kids playing so they enjoy your company. Besides, can’t we all use a little fresh air?
So, there’s my super-secret plan for keeping my kids outside this summer, having fun, getting exercise, and… keeping the Ding-Dong-Song to a minimum! I must also mention that the items I shared in this post are also fantastic gift ideas for kids!