Words by Bronwyn Baines, Interior Designer and studying Architect – We welcome back Bronwyn as a guest blogger, to help bring out our childish spirits and encourage spending some time outdoors, embracing the FPL motto of “Get outside and play!”

Get outside and play – What do you do on a regular basis for fun?children playing outdoors fresh perspective landscapes blue mountains eating watermelon

When did you last go for a bushwalk? Go down a slide at the playground, play hide and go seek with the kids, join a good game of beach cricket? There’s no denying it, nature is a fuel for the soul, and a lot can be said for enjoying time outdoors. We all depend on and need to embrace our surrounding environments for physical and mental stimulation.

Extensive research governs the importance of connecting children with nature for outdoor discovery play. This positively impacts their social, psychological, academic and physical health. Open spaces provide children with limitless potential for discovery and unstructured exploration. It confronts them with positive challenges and experiences, yet, imposes no formal agenda. We all want our children to have this space and time to be, well, children; yet when was the last time the adults got to have a ‘play date’ at the park? Not to sit on the bench and drink lattes minding the prams, toys and bags (although we do love this also ha!), but to actually play (you know – run, jump, laugh, chase etc.) outdoors?

Such a lot of focus is placed on our kids getting enough exercise and fresh air, that sometimes adults forget that, just as children need play to help them de-stress, outdoor play just as much helps big kids reset, recharge and be at their best. Many adults have the mindset that they are too old to be playful. There is actually strong evidence that this could not be further from the truth. Play may be the very thing that keeps you young and healthier. In fact, studies show that a life lived without play  increases the risk of stress-related diseases, mental health issues, addiction and interpersonal violence.man lying in grass outdoor living fresh perspective landscapes blue mountains

So, instead of looking at ‘play’ as a waste of precious time, consider it an investment in personal and family well-being.

There are many ways both kids and adults can connect and interact with their surrounding outdoor environments. Concepts of ‘adult outdoor play things’ have been introduced allowing the young-at-hearts to indulge and reminisce in their childish enthusiasm for outdoor play equipment, contributing to individual and overall health of communities. Along with this, entire fitness regimes have evolved and are thriving from the concept of ‘outdoor play’, embracing a social spirit with groups of people, in the fresh air.

So, practically speaking, (because we would all love to spend all day outside, but also have families/jobs/pets/lives/responsibilities etc) how can we maximise our daily exposure to our natural surroundings without impeding our already hectic schedules?

Kids or not, these 10 weekday and weekend activities will prove why nature is the best kind of nurture for all.


During the week:

  1. Walk the dog! Take 20 minutes out of your day to take the best friend for a simple explore around the block. Play a simple game of eye spy while walking and really soak in the surrounding environment. Explore different walking routes, name as many plant species as you can, stop to smell the flowers (literally!) and listen out for the birds. You’ll get home, refreshed, and ready for the next stage of your day. Your best friend (and your health) will thank you!


couple playing outdoors sprinkler adults get outside fresh perspective landscapes blue mountains

  1. Sprinkler fun/water games – water and kids naturally go together. But why should us adults miss out on the fun? As the weather warms up, those plants will need watering… Hello waterplay! Take turns with the kids to water the garden and play chase with the hose; or grab the sprinkler and take turns to jump over and catch the spray. Have towels handy, and listen to those squeals of delight! Another fun water game is water painting. All you need for this activity is a bucket of water and a brush. Children can paint the side of a building and learn about evaporation in the garden at the same time.


  1. Playground workouts (with or without kids!) – Who says playgrounds are just for kids? If you want to get a great workout in while sucking in fresh air and enjoying the outdoors, there’s no better place to go than to your local playground. Use the bars to perform pullups, dips and modified push-ups. Use the swings like suspension trainers to perform balance lunges and planks, and put those park benches to use for step ups and bunny hops. No time for the playground during the week? Have a trampoline? Just 10 minutes of jumping can speed up the heart rate and have your muscles burning. Fun and fitness – win, win!


  1. Morning/Evening Exercise in the Backyard – one person’s outdoor ‘play’ time, is another’s ‘me’ time. Plan time for stretching/yoga/exercise and reflection amongst the peace of your very own backyard. Use your senses to really capture how you’re feeling – what do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell? To complete, bring the outdoors in and quickly pick some flowers for the house.


On the Weekends:

  1. Build an outside fort – In their own backyards children can perform constructive play by creating objects using their natural environment and employing their imagination to do so. Find a suitable area where children can make their own tent or cubby house.  You’ll need a couple of old sheets, clothes pegs, a blanket and some rope. Just attach the rope between two trees or poles and the sheet on either side secure with a rock. Bring out the plastic picnic ware for ‘tea time’. Children will have hours of fun in their new home, and may even invite you in for a cuppa.


  1. Make a family treasure hunt – Create a simple outdoor treasure hunt. Get the whole family involved. Hide ‘treasure’ and plant clues in the natural environment for your little ones to use their memory, cognitive skills and imaginations. Have a simple prize at the end where ‘X’ marks the spot!say yes to new adventures fresh perspective landscapes blue mountains


  1. Plan a bush walk (kids or no kids!) – Plan or take part in a local bush walk. Backyard bushland is abundant in the Blue Mountains, and (once determined as safe to explore) a bush walk is an excellent way for everyone involved to discover and appreciate our unique natural environment. Children can use their senses by discovering simple things like the roughness of a tree trunk, the smoothness of pebbles and rocks in a stream or the crunchiness of a dried leaves underfoot. They can marvel at our native animals and listen to the sounds of local birds. Take a sketch pad and some crayons for the kids to do some natural ‘rubbings’ of different textures.


  1. Build a backyard obstacle course – Who doesn’t love a good challenge? If you have access to a backyard or park, why not set up a mini obstacle course? You can use old tyres, pillows, cardboard boxes, toys, chairs, buckets, hoops and rope. Obstacle courses are designed to improve gross motor skills and general co-ordination. Little kids learn concepts of decision making like over, under and through; while big kids get the exercise and fresh air!


  1. Plant something, watch it grow (kids or no kids!) – it really doesn’t matter what it is, children love to participate in the process of growing things in a garden.  In fact, many schools are encouraging children to be involved in school gardens.  For adults, there is nothing more satisfying than the feeling of accomplishment in planting a seed you know will grow into something beautiful. Even if you live in an apartment, a windowsill garden is a great place to start.


“With a lifelong history dabbling in all things creative, I have come to the conclusion that “design” and “living” are one and the same…I’ve always been encouraged to live spherically – in all directions – and my curiosity and interest in all things visual – art/craft/nature/children/photography/family/books/animals/story telling/cooking/drawing/building/parenting has helped me gain an understanding of how we best utilise space, inside and out, to reflect our own ideal, happy lifestyles” – Bronwyn Baines


If you have nowhere to play, contact Luke HERE to book your FREE initial consultation, chat about your design ideas and reinvent your outdoor experience today! For a list of our services, CLICK HERE