It’s 4:30 in the afternoon on a beautiful fall day. The sun is shining and the temperature is 65 degrees. My question for you is, what are your kids doing right now? Well, wait… Don’t answer that, because you don’t have to. I already know. Your kids are watching TV, playing on an iPad, or playing Xbox. Well, I can’t say that every kid out there is doing one of those things, but I know most are.
Not only do I not see kids getting outside to play enough, there is data that backs it up. Did you know the number of obese children in the U.S. has tripled since the 1970’s? The internet and advancements in technology have changed who we are as humans forever. We have a huge problem on our hands as a society and if we don’t make changes now, our grandchildren won’t remember what it’s like to go outside and play.
I remember growing up on a farm in Northern Iowa and what life was like back then. Not to show my age, but it was 1978 and I was a happy-go-lucky boy who loved to play outside. On a farm, there is always something to do. Some things good and some things bad (Like when I told my sister that the hog buzzer to her stomach wouldn’t hurt). We would go to the barn and build forts in the bales of straw, explore our out buildings filled with old junk, shoot pigeons with my bb gun, ride motorcycles, play on our swing set, or play some type of game or sport outside.
For hours, I would throw the football up in the air and try to make a great catch. I used to play an entire 9 inning baseball game by myself and pretended I was every MLB player in the all-star game, even keeping track of their stats. I think we had an electronic game called pong around this time that my Dad bought at an auction (Google it if you have never heard of it). It was fun to us but nothing like the games available to our children today. After pong, we got an Atari in the 80’s and we did play that quite a bit. While it was fun, I always spent most of my time outside playing.
We also didn’t eat fast food three times a week. It was a special treat if we drove 35 miles to Fort Dodge and ate at Henry’s Hamburgers or Tom Thumb! I stayed healthy and active in my childhood and I don’t ever remember being told to “Go outside and Play.” I just did it on my own because I wanted to. When I got a little older, my mom and dad installed a basketball court for me. Basketball soon became my life. I wouldn’t go in the house until I made a certain number of free throws in a row. My friends and I would play until midnight or later. It was the greatest gift my parents could have given me.
Fast forward almost 40 years later and I have two children of my own who are now 10 and 12. We live in town so the farm life is not an option for them. My wife and I struggle with the electronic usage in our house sometimes, too, but it is normally at night. During the day you will find my kids outside playing with the neighbor kids. Our neighborhood is full of kids, ranging from ages two to 12, and they play outside every day. They have been doing this for years. I have had several people say, “Your kids are always outside.” Do you want to know why? Because we made a decision 10 years ago to have a Rainbow Play System installed. Well, that’s not the only reason but it was the biggest. A Rainbow Play System is a great way to get the kids out of the house and playing outside. A Rainbow promotes healthy, happy, physically fit children. It also sparks their imagination and helps them develop important motor skills.
The Rainbow we bought was a Sunshine Clubhouse when my daughter was two, and when my boy came along and I started working at Rainbow, we decided to go bigger and installed a King Kong Castle Pkg. II. I have watched my kids and all their friends grow up on a Rainbow. I have seen them drag blankets, towels, toys, and chairs up to the top deck to play “House”. I have seen them play Pirate Ship, I have seen them have a snowball fight on the Rainbow.
I have seen nerf gun fights on the Rainbow. They even play Marco Polo on the Rainbow. (Not recommended and the kids do keep their eyes partially open so they don’t fall which kind of defeats the purpose of the game). But, the point is they are outside! Heck they even sometimes just sit up on the Rainbow and read a book! They are not inside watching tv or playing on an electronic device. Have you noticed that if you let a kid do any of these things for too long they become very cranky? What about the winter time? Cabin Fever ring a bell? Don’t let them get stir crazy, buy them something to play on outside!
After seeing how much the Rainbow was being used, we have added monkey bars, a penthouse, and another slide to the Rainbow over the years and it has paid for itself over and over again. We also installed a Goalsetter basketball hoop about 5 years ago to give them another option for outside play. If the kids don’t do their chores or if they act up, the one thing that gets through to the them is tell them they can’t go outside and play. I think we owe it to the Rainbow, the Goalsetter, and a great group of neighborhood kids. Yes, I work at Rainbow so I promote our products (we carry Trampolines, too!). I will tell you that we are still figuring out this parenting thing, but the best thing we have every done for our kids is to give them things to play on outside.
Happy, Healthy Kids and a Lifetime Of Memories. It’s our tagline at Rainbow Of The Heartland. I came up with that. It wasn’t that hard when I sat down and thought about my own kids’ childhood. It’s time to Unplug N Play, America! For the price of a family vacation you can own a Rainbow Play System that will last for years. Or invest in a Basketball Hoop, or Trampoline, or maybe more than one of our products.
Rainbow was not around when I grew up on the farm so we had a small metal swing set that tipped over all the time and rusted out. It would have been so cool to have one. Maybe my sister would have avoided the hog buzzer episode.