Households with or without children have been feeling the frustration of staying home to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. With cases surging, gathering in tight crowds, even outside, is unwise and unsafe. Turn your thoughts to ways to have fun in your own backyard.
Private outdoor space, however small, is ripe for a great picnic. Find a shady spot, or create some shade with a big patio umbrella, and pack a basket just as if you were taking a drive to a summer festival. If you don’t have a picnic table, set up a blanket or chairs and provide finger-food like sandwiches, a cooler of ice featuring a variety of still and sparkling water, and juice or sodas for the kids.
Haul out the tent from the shed or garage and set it up in the back yard. If you don’t have a tent, a blanket slung over a rope tied between two trees and pinned down with rocks or bricks, and a tarp for the floor, makes enough of a shelter to inspire creative play. Go all out and bring the sleeping bags and flashlights so that you can tell scary stories after dark.
If you are fortunate enough to live in a place with minimal light pollution, go out after dark and look up. There are many mobile apps that help you read the sky, identify stars and planets, and even tell you where to look for meteor showers if one is going on. Consult astronomical websites for interesting celestial events coming up in your area. Moonless nights are best for viewing. You may even catch a satellite or the international space station gliding across the sky.
Water is a natural way to have fun in your backyard. Many Floridians own backyard pools. This summer, spruce up your pool by adding a new water feature or fresh lighting.
Water fun comes in many more varieties than an in-ground pool—try making water balloon piñatas hung from branches low enough for the kids to take a whack at them, or break out the old lawn sprinkler and run through the soaring water as it makes its slow arc across the lawn. Create a slippery slide on a slope with a garden hose and a smooth tarp, or make a toy boat battle in a cleaned-out birdbath. One of the great benefits of living in Florida is the opportunity to spend the better part of a hot summer day cooling off in a wet bathing suit, so take advantage.
DIY Mini-Golf and Bowling
A few carefully placed pool noodles and empty soup cans create a fun backyard mini-golf course. Likewise, cans or plastic toys can substitute for bowling pins and any ball can function as a great bowling ball. Get creative with ramps and garden gnomes to create obstacles in your backyard mini-golf course.
You don’t have to spend a fortune on outdoor projectors and screens; just hang two shower curtains from a rope between two trees, or along a clothesline, to separate “backstage” from “onstage.” Kids can act out their favorite fairy tales, superhero fantasies, or princess stories to their parent’s copious applause.
Freestanding on a frame or strung between trees, a backyard hammock makes dozing off in hot weather a delight. Couples can get a hammock sized for two and enjoy a lazy weekend nap together.