A little background: My husband and I were raised in more suburban/rural areas, but we both went to college in Boston and lived there a short time after being married before we bought a house in an immediate "suburb" which is very walkable, houses are close to each other, somewhat city-like,but still a suburb. I've often longed to move back into the city and now we may have the chance.
Now that we have two kids under the age of 4, my concern is getting the kids outside. In many ways, people in the city spend more time outside than others because you walk more, etc., but I love my kids to get outside, dig, get messy. I run an outdoor playgroup. We may be able to find an apartment/condo with a small yard, shared or not, but I'm not sure. We only live on .1 acres now, but it's enough for us. After the winter we've had, we've gotten use to less outside time, but once it warms up a bit more we'll be outside all the time.
So- if you're a city parent, how do you get your kids outside? Especially if you don't have a yard? Daunting? Or are you just used to it? Any other issues I should know about or take into consideration when thinking about moving our family into a different environment?
Our first house in the city we had a postage stamp yard, and the kids literally ran in circles so much the tiny patch of grass had a "crop circle" in it. I'd just toss them out the back door and they'd run tiny little laps.
Our main outdoor stuff was in parks. It seemed ridiculous to have to drive to get exercise, but I got used to it. I searched out all the little neighborhood parks in our region of the city, and we rotated. Sometimes went walking, sometimes went where there was a sandbox, sometimes went for the big play structures. I tried to make sure that everytime we went out for errands or to the library, we had time at a park somewhere.
We love living in the city, but thankfully we live in an area of town that has good yard space. We hit up the park often though and KC is awesome about having lots of city parks. I would just make sure that wherever you chose to live is within walking distance of a park or outdoor space the kiddos can run around in.
oh heavens, I think city living gets so much more outdoor time than the suburbs. We live practically in Boston, have a condo with no outdoor space--and a dog. We are also in a place where the school districts are set up to be walkable--so even in deepest winter we are walking to school. We are within 2 blocks of three different playgrounds, and spend time every day it's over freezing there. We're also within walking distance of the emerald necklace--with opportunities for nature, boating, even fishing! I do love it... make the outrageously priced tiny condo all worthwhile.
We live in a big city. We're lucky to have a small yard (many of our friends don't), but we don't even use it all that much. Really one of the great benefits of living in the city is having so much great stuff in walking distance, including multiple parks. Of course every city is different and I can only speak to our experience. In our case we have at least 10 (probably more) playgrounds within easy walking distance. We have 3 big parks (one of them really big) in easy walking distance. Our city has a great system of bike paths too, so if we hop on our bikes there are so many great outdoor places we can get to. And then, of course, there's the car. Take the car and your options are pretty open. We are a 20 min bike ride from a huge Botanical Garden. We have water parks and swimming pools all over the place. In the winter they set up temporary skating rinks at lots of the parks.
I love living in the city. We get outside every day. In the summer we spend hours and hours outside every day. It helps a lot to have developed a community here too. We have friends all over our immediate neighbourhood, so there are helpful "drop in" points in case someone needs to use the bathroom, if we just get tired, if we feel like visiting with other people, etc. Our best friends live right across the street from our favourite playground which is great.
In terms of "tips" for getting out and about... hmmm... I guess first of all take some time and get to know your area. Do your research into all the fun (and often free!) stuff available. Make sure you're set up with bikes and bike seats or a trailer for the kids. Have a good stroller and/or carrier for walks. A trike with a handle or a wagon to pull the kids in is handy too. Also it's a good idea to "come prepared". Make sure you have snacks, water, bandaids, change of clothes, dipes and wipes (if applicable), etc, if you're going to be out at a park (or parks) for a while.
That's all I can think of. Hope that helps!
Kate, mom to 7 year old Djuna and 4 yr old Alden. Missing our good friend Hal the cat who died June 2, 2010
what do you mean by outside? nature?
until dd was 5 we never had a yard.
we still spend a LOT of time outside. the difference we have a yard. however i will say we spent even more time outside when we didnt have a yard. perhaps we didnt get that much dirty time.
the dirty time came when we went down to the river that was a few blocks from our house.
however dd is a social butterfly and she needs people. so we'd go places depending on our pocket. till she was 2 we'd go to the park for 4 hours morning, and our sidewalk for 2 to 3 hours in the evening.
as a baby and toddler we spent some time daily on our neighbours front yard and on our sidewalk playing with water or chalk or exploring the cracks and the ants and bugs in there. it was a relatively not busy street.
I think a lot of this depends on how old your kids are. When your kids are younger, it's just as easy to walk them to the playground as it is to supervise them outside. However, once they are older, and able to play outside without direct adult supervision, it is really, really nice to have a yard you can just send them outside into while you cook dinner or clean or whatever.
Homeschooling mom to 4
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Thank you, there were a lot of good points made here. Reading this thread I realize that we live a pretty "active, urban" lifestyle. We walk/bike to the park, library, etc. I am more concerned bout "dirty" time, as meemee brought up. My kids have been living in their rain pants these days and now that we've thawed out they're ready to go digging in our garden. I'm concerned about not having that kind of freedom in a public space- I don't know if they'd like my kids digging up the grass/flowers. I also appreciate the point that ameliabedelia brought up about their age. Right now I do have to watch them outside, but our yard is mostly fenced in and the front and back of our house is highly visible from the inside, so I do pop in and out making lunch etc., but we go out just as often or more often than we play in our own yard because I feel like when I'm away from the house I can focus on my kids and not be distracted by the house and things that need to be done. I can also see how it will change with age- for older children who do not directly need to be supervised, and it would be nice to have outside space.
Qestia, I totally agree about city life being more of an outside life- that's what I liked about living in the city. I guess I'm just afraid I'll be mourning the loss of my immediate porch/yard space. We're still not sure if this is definitely something that will be happening with us, but if it does then feel like we will decide to be a little farther out (Brookline) and look for something with some kind of outside space. Thanks for the insight, everyone!