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Facing a spring/summer with no backyard


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I grew up (in the city) in a safe, quiet neighborhood with a decently roomy backyard, side yard (corner house), and front yard. :) 


We currently have a small backyard & front yard for our kids. They can run around a little, we have a few swings & a slide... 


Now we're looking at potentially moving in the month or so. If we do, we will have *no* backyard. A very tiny space in front, and cement driveway on the side. It's not the safest neighborhood. My kids are pretty young.


We'll have an unfinished basement where they can play some inside...but not room to run. There's a public school playground within walking distance. We could walk to the library. It's a pretty long walk to the park...we could *maybe* do this once a week or so. I won't have a car during the day. 


Suggestions for how to keep active kids happy without a yard? 

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We had a house with a tiny courtyard area for about a year. I'm in the UK so small gardens are normal, but this was tiny by normal standards! Honestly, it encouraged us to go out more and walk more which was good! We grew a few things in buckets (herbs/veggies/flowers...even a tree!), and I bought some chalk and we drew or played hopskotch. Skipping ropes are also an option. Equipment you could take to the park with you? Balls, scooters, bikes, etc. A small indoor trampoline might be useful. Or a swing ball? We managed to have a small sandpit as well. Hope some of this is helpful. I still miss that tiny garden!

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we had this situation once when my dc were little.  We set up a Little Tykes slide and play fort inside.  We also put a sandbox in the house.  That was great actually....no bugs or neighborhood cats to hide out in it.  We did put tarps under it to keep the sand somewhat contained.  I also used exercise dvds.  They liked the balance ball workouts I did.  We rented lots of dance dvds and kids workout dvds. 


We also played tons of games from charades to hide and seek to board and card games.  We made up stories and plays to act out. 


On the quiet side, we did lots of crafts and read alouds. 


I'm sure it isn't ideal living without a yard to run around.  I grew up in the country with lots of room to explore and play.  Now, my dc are teens and the area we live in is so hot in the summer, we might as well not have any yard.  It is just brutal with triple digits for weeks and weeks and weeks.  But, the memories of those days with no yard has helped us all get through the summer.  The good memories of tea parties and movies, and popcorn and games are happy and nostalgic.  So, when we play games now or do crafts now, someone will always mention some happy memory of those times spent together. 

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I second some of the ideas from PPs - we love our Little Tikes climber/fort, and the kids work out more energy on it than you might think.  We don't have a mini trampoline, but my kids have loved them at others' homes.  I love the idea of kiddo workout videos - in the past I've always though those were kind of weird (why make kids follow a routine when they can just run around outside and play?!) but kids really love dancing along with a video and in your situation I bet it could really be helpful.


Re: an indoor sandbox - we went for an indoor rice box!  We got a rubbermaid plastic container (designed to hold gift wrap, I think) that has a lid and slides under the bed (so it is probably 15" x 36", and maybe 6" deep?).  We filled it with about 25 or 50 lbs of uncooked rice (sorry I can't remember at the moment, but it was a big bag from Costco), and put lots of toys in it - everything from plastic dinosaurs to lots of little construction vehicles to wooden blocks.  I think DS and DD were both  allowed to play with it by the time they were about 2, though we always watched at that age to make sure they didn't put any of it in their mouths (it would be super easy to choke on).  We have probably had that rice container for 4 years now, and my kids still love it (they are 7 and 4 now).


Initially it was a toy I kept put away under our bed, and we rolled it out onto a sheet just when they were allowed to play in it (to control the mess).  Now that they are older we often leave it out.  It does make a mess if they are not careful, but it is fairly easy to clean up with a vacuum (even just a little vac, which they think is very fun to use).

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Thanks for the great ideas! :) We will probably do a lot of walking when we can... And biking up & down the sidewalk works, too. 


I love the idea of using outdoor playthings indoors. :) And I *love* the rice-box idea! (Thanks, tranquility7!) I'll have to run these by Dh... He has an aversion to messes. ;) But this is a great starting point. 


I'd love to hear more ideas!

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LOVE all the ideas from previous posters. :)


outside at your house (with you in a lawn chair, drink in hand, under an umbrella, watching with book in hand):

- sidewalk chalk

- a plastic kiddie pool

- plastic tubs of water and soap bubbles with straws, rotary egg beaters, whisk, baster, funnel...

- buckets of water and wide paint brushes to "paint the house"

- jump rope

- chinese jump rope

- sit n spin

- if the driveway is slightly slanted, build race courses for matchbox cars, or K'nex or Lego creations and race them -- put boxes at the end so nothing goes out into the street (so no one follows a toy out into the street)


in the basement:

- a couple of cardboard appliance boxes and duct table to make a maze, a rocket ship, a pirate ship, a clubhouse...

- get a pre-school water table (or make one out of a plastic underbed storage bins and set it on an old coffee table or boxes or ...) -- fill with different things on different days: water; shaving cream; rice; pudding; beans; sand; styrofoam packing peanuts; Legos; salt dough...

- make obstacle courses (crawl under a chair, hop on one leg from one point to another, leap frog over pillows, through a tunnel (sheet over chairs or boxes)...

- set up and play store, drive through window restaurant, zoo with individual cages, drive-in movie theater, garbage truck pickup (my boys LOVED that, using a big Tonka dump truck or something with capacity on wheels, and "cans" of small toys, legos, etc. set up at different places for a "route", and get "dumped" into the "garbage truck") -- and other imaginative play

- foam balls and basketball hoop

- dress up box of silks, scarves, hats, swords, magic wands, etc. -- make settings with sheets clothes-pinned up to make walls, tents, etc.

- go to a printer and ask for the end of a roll of paper that they are about to toss out (usually about 3 feet long!), and paint or use markers or crayons to make murals, or draw around each other and then decorate your self-portraits



Hope your move goes smoothly! Warmest regards, Lori D.

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(Lori D, you are an amazing poster! GREAT ideas!)


Just wanted to add a suggestion--

Take a Penny Walk! At every corner, flip a penny to see whether to go left or right (but Mom decides if you need to go straight). It's a fun way to walk around the neighborhood--I know you said it wasn't that safe, but don't let that deter you from getting out there from time to time. There are safe times and places to walk almost anywhere.


Take a nature notebook to the park when you go, too--it's a fun way to really "see" the plants and animals. I love to give kids a camera and let them do a scavenger hunt or just take lots of interesting texture pictures.

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