Backyard play structures anti-social? - Mothering Forums

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Old 12-05-2006, 06:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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DD is still a baby, but DH and I have been debating this for *years,* even before we conceived.

We have a smallish backyard, but big enough for a small play structure. the yard is fenced in and has foliage for semi-privacy. Lots of kids in the neighborhood but all of our immediately adjacent neighbors are older folks with no kids or teenagers.

We both would love to have a small play structure so that we don't always have to walk DD to the park (and no really good park terribly close by; a small plaground three blocks away, but the nearest really good parks/playgrounds are a longer walk, basically an all-morning expedition to walk or even a car-trip type excursion). But we also both think that doing so might really encourage teh kind of suburban isolation that is growing so much these days. We'd almost rather be forced to go to the park or have DD go to a neighbor's house so that she plays with other kids and isn't always cooped up at home.

When I was a kid we had a swingset but we were the second house from the corner and the neighbors let us run across their lawn so we basically had a huge play area and all the neighborhood kids congregated there. DH's family had no swingset when he was little and he and a couple friends went to the park to play. That seems so much healthier than the situation my nannying kids of a couple years ago were in: huge play structure, but all the kids in the neighborhood played in their own backyards on their own play structures and never saw each other.

I mean, I don't think that "socialization" is the be-all and end-all of childhood, but I do think that too much isolation can be bad. I mean, no reason why DD can't play at home alone all she wants, but maybe having to go to the park for the swings might just help us all remember to get out more and mingle with other families.

What do you all think?
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Old 12-05-2006, 06:29 PM
 
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I honestly have never thought about it like that. We do have a play structure in the backyard that ds (4) and dd (18 months) use but we still go to playgrounds and other socialization events such as library, drop-in's, swimming. The play structure is just something we use when at home. It doesn't take the place of going into town for other activities. My ds constantly asks to go to a playground in town and when we get there he just wants to swing. We have a swing at home but I guess it's the change in scenery

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Old 12-05-2006, 06:34 PM
 
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Your dd will probably demand to be taken to where the kids are, regardless of having her own play structure .

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Old 12-05-2006, 06:50 PM
 
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Well, in our neighborhood, we go to our parks often and we are still the only ones there. There's quite a few kids in our area, but I swear I never see most of them outside. Most of the moms are working moms, so they're just not around.

We don't have a huge play structure in our backyard (small), but it's nice for them to have a couple things to climb around on while they're waiting for me to get ready to go somewhere (gets their ya ya's out before we get in the car), or so I can go in and fix lunch or something while they are playing outside. You definately don't need a lot though.
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Old 12-05-2006, 06:59 PM
 
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dh and i have the same debate. he thinks that the park is more social, i grew up with a backyard play structure and on some level consider them basic gear. this is moot as we live in a city and will never have a house with yard. but it is a good debate for you to be having -- i love how you are trying to live your values.
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Old 12-05-2006, 07:18 PM
 
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I can see that. We live in the city, a block from a park, and in the summer my kids socialize with all kinds of kids every day at the park. However, we also have a sandbox in our backyard to play in the yard sometimes. I think you should make an effort to get to the playgrounds whether or not you get something for the yard. I wouldn't have gotten a sandbox if there had been one nearby, but our park doesn't have one (a good idea, since there are a billion cats around here!)
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Old 12-05-2006, 08:20 PM
 
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We also have a backyard play structure. We still go to the playground and many other places for him to play. It is great when friends come over, when I am gardening, or when we only have a few minutes to play before heading out somewhere. And sometimes he just wants to stay home to play.

I also consider them basic gear like a bike or scooter. It hasn't taken away any of his "socialization" or made us isolated.

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Old 12-05-2006, 08:24 PM
 
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Never thought of it like that. We went and still go to all kinds of parks but still had a little backyard set for the kids to play on. I found them very handy when I was tied up with yard chores because we could all be outside and still see each other.
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Old 12-05-2006, 08:28 PM
 
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We also have a backyard play structure. We still go to the playground and many other places for him to play. It is great when friends come over, when I am gardening, or when we only have a few minutes to play before heading out somewhere. And sometimes he just wants to stay home to play.

I also consider them basic gear like a bike or scooter. It hasn't taken away any of his "socialization" or made us isolated.

Same here. My ds is an only so when I am out doing yardwork I am so grateful to have the play structure. We still go to the playground, and on playdates.
I love having the swingset when we have a party too, it keeps all the kids happy!
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Old 12-05-2006, 08:36 PM
 
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We just made a small play fort/structure for DS this summer and he loves it. My son is crazy social. He loves to be with other people, especially kids. We have several parks and playgrounds nearby and use them often (no matter the weather--talk about being the only one at the playground!). But the backyard play doesnt take the place of that. He LOVES having a swing in the yard and a place to make into a fort/tent/pirate ship etc. He does this alone or with friends over and, again, no matter the weather--he's been out there all weekend long in the ice and snow. It is really a fun thing for him and for his playmates. Another nice thing (especially if you have a structure which isn't too. . .well structured) is that it helps encourage kids to be outside. We don't have a problem with that with DS, but the fort and swing are an encouragement to visitors who might otherwise just want to play inside.
I think I've seen more suburban kids with big yards (with or without play equipment) who never leave their homes. I'm amazed that so many kids really just don't like playing outside.

Cheers!
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Old 12-05-2006, 08:41 PM
 
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We have a small park 3 blocks away, plus a swingset in our backyard.

The backyard play structure is great when we don't have time to go to the park, esp with older kids who are allowed to play in the backyard without a parent. It's good for "iffy weather" when we don't want to be stuck 3 blocks away if it starts pouring, but I want the kids to play outside as much as possible before it rains. It's also great when we invite children over to play.

I don't think the backyard swingset interferes with socializing at the park. We still go to the park plenty of times.

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Old 12-05-2006, 09:10 PM
 
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Our house is kid central. Our swingset/clubhouse/sandbox is what draws the kids over. Many families in our neighborhood have 2-3 children each so there are many different ages running around our yard and sometimes it's annoying to referee so much but I'd much rather have an eye on my kids then them being somewhere else. Our neighbors have a swingset and they never use it because they are always over here. So it's a tough call. The nice wooden ones are not cheap but we wouldn't ever regret buying ours.
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Old 12-05-2006, 09:34 PM
 
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We don't go to the park any less with a play structure in our backyard than if we didn't have one. The play structure is for when I'm gardening or when she wants to play by herself. The park is for outings.
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Old 12-05-2006, 09:48 PM
 
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I'd totally stop arguing and play it by ear. If you get to where you think you might enjoy one, get one. If you never think you need one, you won't get one.
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Old 12-05-2006, 09:50 PM
 
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have you thought about the wonderful socializing that can happen when neighbors and friends gather in your backyard to play on your playset?
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Old 12-05-2006, 09:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, debating. Basically arguing without any of the negative connotations

This is definitely one way to go, but I think to just go what seems enjoyable takes an awful lot of depth out of life.

By the way, it's not life we're on opposite sides--we both see both sides and are both undecided.

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I'd totally stop arguing and play it by ear. If you get to where you think you might enjoy one, get one. If you never think you need one, you won't get one.
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Old 12-05-2006, 09:53 PM
 
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I don't really like them personally but I live in NYC where no one has much of a yard and the parks are fabulous and full of kids. Ds and I walk 7 blocks to the park we like best (there is one 2-3 blocks also and another 2 blocks in the other direction) but this one is our favorite. Only takes us 10 minutes to get there.

We went to WI to visit relatives and ds went running towards someone's backyard when he saw the play structure and I had to explain to him that some people have 'private parks' which he was totally confused by!

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Old 12-05-2006, 09:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes, but it's not likely to happen at our yard--it's one of the smallest on the block and it's very closed-in. Much more likely for this happen at our neighbors, who are on the corner and have much more space. I'd love for this to happen at our house, but it's unlikely. If we do get a play structure it would have to quite small, both bc of space and of cost.

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have you thought about the wonderful socializing that can happen when neighbors and friends gather in your backyard to play on your playset?
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Old 12-05-2006, 11:10 PM
 
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Well, debating. Basically arguing without any of the negative connotations

This is definitely one way to go, but I think to just go what seems enjoyable takes an awful lot of depth out of life.
.

??? I'm lost as to what you're saying.
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Old 12-05-2006, 11:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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??? I'm lost as to what you're saying.
Oh, sorry. It seemed from your post like you'd gotten the impression somehow that this was fight between us. It isn't. It's just something we've talked about many times.

I think that discussing such things, weighing the pros and cons, and making a mindful decision is more important that spontenaity, at least in this regard.
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Old 12-05-2006, 11:19 PM
 
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We have a small play structure----AND we're within 1.5 blocks of two great playgrounds. I like that my daughter has something to safely climb while I putter outside in the yard. It's great when we have playdates at our house too. I wouldn't spend a ton of money on a play structure though!
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Old 12-05-2006, 11:25 PM
 
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Oh, sorry. It seemed from your post like you'd gotten the impression somehow that this was fight between us. It isn't. It's just something we've talked about many times.

I think that discussing such things, weighing the pros and cons, and making a mindful decision is more important that spontenaity, at least in this regard.

LOL Holy cow...I swear, I am not stupid. I no longer even know what we are talking about... I think?

What do you mean about spontenaity here? I mean, I know what the word means, but I don't know what you mean here.

If you find at some point that your child would like one, or you'd like one...is sponatneous waiting until you know what your child/family needs are, and is waiting until you know your needs considered spontaneous?

Seriously, I am lost. But I am asking for clarification because I believe I am an intelligent person and want to understand what you mean.
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Old 12-06-2006, 02:11 AM
 
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We take our kiddos to the park. They love it way better and they enjoy other kids as well.

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Old 12-06-2006, 07:18 AM
 
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Well, most families in our neighborhood have some sort of play structure in their yards and we have a park 4 blocks away.

They serve two very different purposes -- backyard play stuff when mom and dad need to be at home (dh works from home and is useless without wireless ), park for more running and social stuff.

Though the social stuff is moot, since often we are the only ones there. But then again, I never see anyone else using their outdoor play structures either. (Trampolines are another matter, but play structures often go unused.) Apparently, we are the only family on the block who plays outside!

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Old 12-06-2006, 07:32 AM
 
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I don't think it's an either/or thing. You can have a playstructure and still go to the public parks.
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Old 12-06-2006, 09:57 AM
 
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Your dd will probably demand to be taken to where the kids are, regardless of having her own play structure .
I agree. Plus, we live in the country, no neighbor's nearby whatsoever. My kids see other kids at school and preschool or at the park IF we decide to go.

We have a wooden playset that was built when our youngest child was 2. We have always had it and plan to always have it. She is almost 5 now and we go to the park sometimes still and she has her friends in preschool. And to tell the truth she never used it much until she was almost 4 anyway and preschool aged. She had friends at school by that time so it didn't matter anyway as far as socialization. It's just another play toy for her.

Our play area is just a fun thing for all my kids to do when they go outside and play. It's there if they want to play on it or not and gives them something to do while outside when we can't get to the park, especially in winter months when they still go outside but I don't want to go to a park and sit in the cold. They can run outside and play on it those times of the year especially.

As an average busy family, we can't spend THAT much time at a park on a weekly basis, so it's best to have a little something in the yard that the kids can do at home on their own.

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