6 Reasons I Wish We Had a Backyard

Our Blog: Word on the Sidewalk

6 Reasons I Wish We Had a Backyard

August 21, 2018

City living is surprisingly baby friendly. No stairs in our unit, so less worry about curious crawlers. It is easy to roll a stroller out the door with an elevator straight to the lobby. Plus, I can walk to Chicago’s Michigan Avenue and immediately feel like I’m on an interesting adventure. (Nordstrom is great for a double stroller, BTW. Very wide aisles, plus easy elevators.) I love city life and have strongly held onto my stance, even with twin babies.


Then we went on a two week trip to the beach. My boys were so excited to feel the wind, watch birds, and dig in sand (and eat the sand… those diapers were, um, less charming). They kicked their little legs with excitement every time we went out. Avoiding pigeons on the sidewalk is not quite the same as watching pelicans soar over dunes, so I get it: Kids NEED to get out and play. We won’t ever move to the beach, but I’m starting to understand why kids need more than a balcony they aren’t allowed to use. 


Here are 6 reasons why I wish we had a back yard. 


1. Health and Wellness

This one is easy. Kids move more when they have more room. This is not as important yet for my family since we are just learning to walk, but as soon as my boys can sprint, jump, skip etc., they are going to need more space. Kids can't develop physical strength and strong bones without room to run.  


2. Motor Skill Development

Yards are full of opportunities to develop both gross and fine motor skills. Gross motor skills include control of the arms, legs, head, and trunk — the larger movements. Fine motor skills involve careful control of small muscles in the hands, feet, fingers, and toes — smaller movements. Running, jumping rope, hopscotch, catch, drawing with chalk, pedaling, pulling, pushing, and basically everything you can do in a yard will help with motor skill development. For now, at least we have a Busy Buggy indoors – I'm relieved my kids can still develop fine and gross motor skills while we don't have a yard.


3. Adventure

I am constantly telling my babies “we are going on an adventure!” Usually this means we are headed to the grocery store. As they grow, I want to give them opportunities to find REAL adventure. They will need safe ways to take risks and learn about their own abilities. A yard is the perfect place to explore: the top of the swing set can feel like the top of a mountain.


4. Appreciation of the Outdoors

Kids know and love what they experience. Their experience is limited, so it is important to fill that experience with the rights things. Getting outside allows kids to appreciate nature and connect with the outdoors. The plants, bugs, trees, seeds, and even dirt can inspire long conversations about the value of the environment. 


5. Collaboration

Yards belong to kids, especially in a neighborhood setting. This world is literally outside of the adult world, which gives children a chance to come out of their shells and learn how to interact with each other — without constant adult moderation. When children play together in this kid-managed world, they learn collaboration and teamwork. 


6. Imaginative Play

Outdoor play encourages creative thinking. Playing in a yard offers unstructured play. Kids can make up activities and games on the spot, which encourages their imagination. All of the raw materials are just begging to be made into something else: forts are built with branches, flowers are picked for fairy crowns, and rocks can be pretty much anything, especially buried treasure. This outdoor world is perfect for fostering imagination and creativity. 


City kids can go to the park, go for walks, check out museums, and yes, they can get out and play. I’m beginning to realize, though, that a yard would get my family outside more often. That yard could be a lot of places — city, suburb, small town, or somewhere with real space — but all that really matters is that I can someday tell my boys to go play outside, and they have a place to, well, go.