At the risk of sounding like my own parents, it’s not as easy as it used to be to get kids to go outside and play these days. “Back in the day” children would be out playing football in the park or on a swing or climbing frame for hours on end, coming in for their dinner and then going back out to play until it went dark. They would even go down to the river with a homemade fishing rod or a towel for a swim just to be outdoors with their friends, having fun.
Today, smartphones, laptops and games consoles have taken over and the only way we can get them to play any kind of sport is to take them to their local club in the evenings or at weekends – when we’d quite like to be relaxing ourselves.
The problem is that we can’t encourage them to go out and play without seeming as though we’re forcing them into doing something they just don’t want to do – it’s a fine line. As we all know, sport is the kind of thing that is highly beneficial for children, helping them to develop key skills both physically and mentally but unfortunately certain activities can be quite expensive when you factor in the various costs.
Many sports will require parents to pay subscription or match fees that allow the kids to play and covers factors like insurance and coaching; and that’s all before you consider the cost of the playing equipment from the clothing down to the protection, kit bags and essentials. There are ways around this, however, as there are a number of clever and cost-effective ways of getting kids into sport without having to break the bank, including:
Exchanging Kit and Equipment
A lot of children (and their parents), are given sports equipment for their kids even if they don’t necessarily participate in that particular activity. It’s a pretty standard gift for any young boy especially who is expected to be sporty, but giving them a rugby ball might not be ideal for someone who prefers football or cricket for example. In this instance you can go online and either swap or buy pre-owned kids’ clothing and equipment at Swap.com from other parents who might be in the same position as you, looking to offload equipment that they have no use for at a fraction of the price you might pay in stores.
Recycling or Upcycling Household Items
The sporting equipment is by far the biggest investment, with items like football goals costing significant amounts of money. In many cases, however, you can make your own out of items you find lying around the home or stored behind the shed or in the garage that can be used – or upcycled – into a homemade goal. For example, the pallets you had your plants delivered on can be dismantled and reassembled into the shape of a goal, and buying some relatively cheap netting could make the goal net (if you need one of course) and then they can play in the garden on their own, with their siblings or friends, or even with you.
Get Involved Together
Children are far more likely to take an interest in something if they have a role model they can look up to who is also taking part. Sometimes it can be a friend who is a year or two older, but it can also be a sibling or parent. If you go to the park to play football together or you take a couple of tennis rackets and balls out with you, they’re much more likely to have fun and then be so interested in the sport that they find ways of playing by themselves when you don’t have the time, or they get in touch with friends to get them to come to the house and play or meet them at the park. All it costs is a little bit of time, and you can’t put a price on that.