Just hear me out…
So, seriously, you lock your kids outside? Really? As in, you turn the key and actually lock them outside, like it’s reverse jail?
Who doesn’t do that?
Say it the wrong way and it sounds like a punishment, but it’s not. Everyone knows that being outside is beneficial for kids. Actually, it’s good for everyone. Things happen beyond the back door, healthy things like kicking footies and hopscotch and chalk on the footpath. How about skateboards or ripsticks, and tossing parachute men into the air at exactly the same time and seeing who can get theirs to stay afloat the longest? It’s hard to ride a bike inside, at least, it’s hard to ride a bike fast inside and do jumps.
Trampolines live outside. What’s life to a kid without the healthy, giddy up and down feelings of a trampoline? Don’t even start me on slides or swings.
It’s not just the fresh air and the natural nourishment that comes from the ‘great outdoors’; it’s about exploring a different environment.
To be fair, it can take a bit of practice to get your head (and your children’s) around the concept of spending time ‘out there’ where there’s clearly, ‘nothing to do.’ I mean, look at it. There’s a bit of grass, there’s a bit of a deck, a manky outside table weathered to varying shades of grey. Plants and stuff, garden things like little spades, forks and of course, there’s that hose hanging off the fence that can be kind of fun to wet things with. But really, it’s pretty boring out there when you look at it.
So what if the idea was not to look at it, but to feel it? To give the imagination a chance to get into it, to crawl around and find some stuff to do? Kids are great at it, sometimes they just need a reason to get that fuzzy logic working, and that’s where the ‘lock ‘em outside’ idea works a treat.
It goes a bit like this.
You suggest they go outside for something, they turn around and find the back door locked. ‘Whyyyyyyyyyyyy Daddy, whyyyyyyyyyyy?’ they moan, but for most kids, that gets old pretty quickly. From there it’s probably on to a bit of foot dragging, a few ‘Come on, lemme iiiiiiiiiiiiin’s,’ until that gets boring, too.
Then, like the bumper sticker says, “magic happens”.
The outside kid finds something to do. Which means the inside parent probably finds something to do, too. It could be to read a book, catch up on your socials, clean the house, fix a chair, make a cushion. Make ten cushions. We could be outside, too, helping our gorgeous, gifted offspring make games to play, but that kind of defeats the purpose of sending them into the fresh air and sunshine to play. And they will play.