As the nicer weather arrives across Canada, and many isolation requirements remain in place (for now), many families are finding themselves venturing into their own backyards (quite literally) to enjoy the sun and some outdoor time together.
With more time likely being spent in your own yard this spring and summer, you may be wondering how to make the most of a tiny yard. Small spaces can still be a place to have fun, play games, go on adventures, eat meals and gather together as a family. In my own home, our backyard isn’t the biggest, but it’s like having a whole other room from April until October.
Here are some ideas to make the most out of your small backyard space:
Small space, big impact
The key with a small yard is to ensure you use the space wisely without having stuff all over the place. A bin for smaller toys and equipment helps keep things out of the way for when you are playing an active game or drawing with chalk.
And furniture clustered together will save space and can be used as a play area on its own. Furniture can make for water battle fortresses or pretend castles! (Supervision is required if furniture is stacked.)
Games to play and memories to make
Not all games are created equal and, while you may not be able to enjoy a game of badminton, baseball or soccer in your tiny backyard, there are a variety of games that will work.
For younger kids, What Time Is It Mr. Wolf? is a classic game that always had my kids laughing; it requires no equipment and very little space is required to play it. With toddlers and preschoolers, their steps aren’t very big, making the game perfect for smaller spaces.
The same can be said for Red Light/Green Light. Start from one end of the yard to the other and keep them guessing! Or, get out the sidewalk chalk and draw a hopscotch board.
You can play a scavenger hunt and hide certain objects around the yard, behind furniture or pick one toy car or ball and go on the hunt for just that! Make it a spy game and go on a special mission. With older kids practice some yoga or jazz up a few dance performances outside.
Remember that the outdoor space doesn’t have to only be used for rambunctious games. It can be treated like an extra quiet room or escape space — the perfect place to read or play a board game on a non-windy day.
Equipment and toys to enjoy
If it’s in your budget, there are a few toys and objects that you can buy to help make the play space in your small backyard more functional. A few of our favourites include:
- a sandbox
- skipping ropes
- a small (really small) pool, to be used only with supervision
- a mini sprinkler
- a mini basketball net
- mini-sticks (small hockey sticks) and ball hockey balls
The key with toys isn’t to buy more, but to ensure that the ones you invest in have big play impact. Sometimes it’s as simple as having a few water buckets ready to fill up and dump into a bigger bowl or pool. Other times it might mean moving inside toys to the outside. (Hot Wheels tracks can become epic!)
No matter the size of your space, some clever planning and encouragement for creative play can make it feel like an extra room in your home during the warmer months.
And right now, we all need that space.
Rebecca Stanisic is a freelance writer and digital content creator. She’s been blogging on her website, A Little Bit of Momsense, since 2009 and for almost as many years has helped fellow bloggers and small business owners create and curate relevant digital content for their own businesses. She’s the proud mom of two and is fuelled by fiction and coffee.