kids playing creatively outside in their own bubbles


How Our Home Unexpectedly Became The Safe Home to Play At This Pandemic

Apr 27, 2021

I look outside our bay window and see my nine-year-old riding her scooter down the sidewalk, one of her classmates trailing behind her. My seven-year-old sits on our front porch step, while the sibling of the bike-riding classmate stands a safe distance away. I love seeing my children enjoying the outdoors, away from screens and with their friend — yes, even during COVID.

Last summer my husband and I moved our family from a condo with no backyard to a new home with a spacious property for my kids to play and run free. COVID-19 propelled our decision to move — knowing our family would be homebound made me desire a spacious front porch and yard, and a big backyard which my kids could claim as their own and enjoy fresh air.

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What I didn’t anticipate was our home becoming the place to play. It’s not unusual to have other kids riding their bikes or scooters, playing on our slackline in the backyard, or just shooting the breeze on our front yard. At first I was a bit nervous about having kids hanging around, but after setting up the expectation that there would be no more than five kids gathering (including my own three), and that they would social distance, I felt more confident having our home as a hangout spot for other kids.

"In some ways, I’m hoping for a summer much like my own childhood summers in the '90s."

Now that we’re in the stay-at-home order, we’re bubbled up with only one other family, but once things become safer (and hopefully we are all vaccinated), our outdoor property will continue as a fun space to hang out. I’ve already planned to have a well-stocked freezer of freezies for hot summer days, and we’re in the process of building a Little Free Library for nearby kids to enjoy some good reads. While my husband and I attempt to work from home this summer full-time, I’m hoping my kids will spend their days outside with other kids, running through a sprinkler or playing hopscotch on the driveway.

In some ways, I’m hoping for a summer much like my own childhood summers in the '90s. Free from constant adult supervision — although I knew our windows were always open and my mom was never far. In our home my husband and I will take turns working on our front porch, or sitting right by the big bay window where we can see what the kids are up to.

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Over the last year it has felt like our kids’ autonomy and free will has been stripped away, and I want my children to feel a renewed sense of independence as they explore the outdoors. I hope that they’ll get creative and find new ways to entertain themselves, whether it’s on a Penny board or setting up a faux lemonade stand for their dolls (sadly, I don’t think we’ll be ready for real lemonade stands anytime soon). I also hope that their friends join in on the fun, allowing for the connection and renewal of friendships that may have faltered over the last year of shutdowns.

While it might be a long time until we’re comfortable with indoor hangouts with friends, the surprising benefit has been more outdoor play time away from tablets and other electronic devices. Seeing my children embrace skipping ropes, bikes, chalk and monkey bars has been a nostalgic thrill I didn’t know I needed. Inviting some neighbourhood kids along for the ride has been the cherry on top.

Article Author Brianna Bell
Brianna Bell

Read more from Brianna here.

Brianna Bell is a writer and journalist based in Guelph, Ontario. She has written for many online and print publications, including Scary Mommy, The Penny Hoarder, and The Globe and Mail.

Brianna's budget-savvy ways have attracted media attention and led to newspaper coverage in The Globe and Mail and The Guelph Mercury.

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