Jan 10, 2018

Cruising With Kids: Not Having A Yard

We were fortunate to live in the Midwest where space is plentiful, and most anyone who wants to live in a house with a yard can do so. 

It came in handy to be able to send our kids out the back door to play in the yard while we cooked dinner or cleaned the house.

When we moved onto the boat, we gave up the yard, but overall, I'd say it doesn't make much difference. 

On this day, our backyard was a beach
where we dug for burried treasure.

First off, it's not like our kids don't play outside. We go to parks and playgrounds, just like the other 36 million families in America who live in apartments or high rises and don't have a backyard.


Second, it's not like having a yard made that much of a difference. We could send our kids out into the backyard, but they often get bored playing alone and want a parent to come out and play with them. Or they start fighting over the same toy or start hitting each other with sticks, and need a parental referee to provide supervision.

Charlie jumping on the "trampoline" on the bow.

Setting all that aside, the yard DID provide our kids with some short-term entertainment and us parents with a few minutes of childfree bliss. 

But that is only in the summertime!

In Michigan, the colder months greatly outnumber the warm ones. You can't send the kids out until they have been properly dressed. In the spring and autumn, that means socks, shoes, coats, hats, and mittens. And in the winter it means all the above with the addition of scarves and snowsuits. All of which needs to be put on our kids who—like all kids—hate getting dressed.

In most cases, I'd say getting the kids dressed and undressed takes more time than they actually spend playing outside. 


Playing in a marina lawn.
All that aside, the fact remains that we had a yard, and by moving onto a boat we would be giving it up.

A tool was being removed from our "ways to entertain the kids" toolbelt, and we had to wonder how our lives would be different.

I comforted myself with the thought that for millions of kids living in cities or apartments, not having a yard is a normal way of life. If they can do it, why can't my kids do it?

I also thought, "The world will become our backyard."

Watching the world as it moves past our home.
The best kids life jacket is this one.

We've been living on the boat now for about 6 months, the lack of a yard hasn't made a noticable difference.

If you consider how often the kids are out playing in the cockpit, I'd say they spend WAY more time outside on the boat than they ever did at home.

The boys enjoying "the view" behind our home for the night.

Since we've been in Clearwater, FL (November-January),  the short walk to the playground has practically become a daily event.

It's a fun walk, fishing charters display their morning catch on the dock, pelicans and other seabirds stand nearby waiting for fish scraps. 

Tourist stroll the dock weighing their options, fishing charters, jet ski rentals, pontoon rentals, sailboat rides, dolphin tours.

All of these vendors have their own unique shacks and booths on the water, and many of the employees greet us in the mornings and give the kids candy in the afternoon. 

We've seen dolphins, and jellyfish on our walks to the park, and have learned that if you raise your hand while holding a chip, a seagull will swoop down and snatch it from your fingertips. 


A huge park in Chicago, across the street from the marina.

Playing in the yard at a marina.

Swinging ropes in the cockpit.

We found this little park while exploring Mackinaw Island.

Visiting a playgound.

A huge park on Mackinaw Island.


A playhouse on Beaver Island


On this day, our backyard was a
pirate ship that pulled into the harbor.
The Puddle Jumper life jacket that Hobie is wearing is best
for swimming, but not coast guard approved for boating.
Check them out here: http://amzn.to/2FpKKGw


Climbing the bimini supports in the cockpit.
We don't often allow the boys to do this
because they can climb above the lifelines.

A park we walked to from our boat.


A civil war park we walked to from the boat.

Chasing geese on a marina lawn.

Skipping stones off an island we anchored next to.

Feeding wild goats on an island
that was our "backyard" for the day.

Playing "kings and castles" on the marina lawn.

Catching minnows in our "backyard".
The best kids life jacket is this one.

The beach, a 5-minute walk from our boat.

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