No substitute for outdoor play...

When I was a kid, my playground was a huge expanse of sandy area (that's all you get when you grow up in a Gulf country). I remember just running around there with my friends and making new games as we went along. I only visited a proper playground on school picnics or outings with the family, but it didn't matter. I was happy enough climbing the palm tree just outside our house. Now that Little Dude loves doing his own running around, I make sure I give him every opportunity to do it.

This park remains busy well after sunset!
In fact, the best part of my day is going to the park every day with my son. When he was still a baby, we moved into the house we are in now, and my only criteria for choosing one was having a play area close by for Little Dude. Even when he couldn't walk, it gave me a sense of fulfillment to take him out in the fresh air, seeing him smile at the other children. Yes, moving to this place was a great decision! Even more so now, since he loves playing outdoors and the park we live close to is fantastic - complete with an artificial lake, a huge playground, and a bicycling track.

In my opinion, nothing beats outdoor play. I know that children have this in-built attraction to the outdoors. Even if they have so many electronic devices to distract them, take them a nice location outside and you'll find them running around sooner or later. Which is why I think that as parents, it is important to help them develop a connect with sports, outdoor play and nature. It is especially important in big cities like Dubai where greenery is not something you see out your window (unless you're paying a premium for the privilege). The weather here is unforgiving, but even then, I make sure I take that walk to the park even if I have to do it in the late evenings.

Point is, you can engage children in all sorts of creative and skill-building activities, but all-round development only comes from running around aimlessly and playing 'catch' outside. It's about the feeling they get from the wind in their faces, the tingling from going down the slide and the excitement of discovering new things in nature. That's what childhood is about anyway, right?

This post has been linked to Finish The Sentence Friday.

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