I love to play. Give me the chance and it wins hands down, every time, all the time. Indoors, outdoors, or parks, you name it, I am in it. I am all for it! I remember in my youth, I enjoyed play so much my parents had a hard time keeping me focused on work. I am sure it is pretty much a timeless universal problem. Image Credit: freepik.com What about you? Most children jump at the choice of play when given the choice. It is just simply more fun, regardless if it is indoors or outdoors or in the parks. With the rise and rise of the smartphone and related electronics, physical activity has dropped considerably as children of all ages (adults too) generally gravitate to electronic pads and smartphones to occupy their time instead of throwing themselves into unstructured play which, according to doctors is very beneficial for healthy growth, creativity and social interaction, among other things. It is common knowledge that smartphone addiction is on the rise, and this from studies as early as 2017. Now, what do we do? On The Homefront Kids can play anywhere, anytime with the simplest of things, think playing masak-masak with dried foodstuff like rice, kidney or soybeans, whole carrots, cucumbers amongst old pots and pans replete with old wooden spoons recycled for play rather than trashed. Kids can have hours of fun stacking, pouring and filling receptacles with foodstuff or liquids. Bigger kids can help Mum cook, helping out with the easier, safer stuff. And there's the usual staple of planes, trains and automobiles, not to mention Lego and the like. Outdoors, sandpits are a timeless favourite especially if you have sufficient grounds for one in your backyard. Just be mindful to keep it covered against rain, so that it does not become a sandy, sloshy pool and animals who might just use it for their natural convenience. Image Credit: Getty Images Scheduling Schedules Just as all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, conversely all play and no work is not a good idea either. Kids need balance in their lives and this is achieved through structure. Kids today are packed with activities. This is not necessarily a bad thing since Moms and Dads choose the best activities to develop their children's fullest potential. After all, unless they try their hand at the violin, archery, fencing or dance, their talents may never be unearthed. Every child has great untapped potential, even as every child is different. As parents, it is our task to unearth and develop that potential individually. This takes time, a lot of observation, discussion, and openness to trial and error. In the humdrum of our hectic lives unstructured play takes a back seat, perhaps relegated to weekends and holidays, time permitting. But the unstructured play is the best fun of all. It is played for play's sake. But with all the activities lined up how do we manage this? Quite simply, we schedule it in as part of their daily routine. If it rains, play moves indoors, in sunshine, outdoors it is. Image Credit: freepik.com In The Area You Live The Local Councils have been doing a good job in creating parks within their jurisdictions. Small suburbs may have just one small park with a playground whereas bigger ones probably have a few parks peppered throughout the area, complete with playgrounds and perhaps a small jogging tracks. In addition to that, our Local Councils have made it a point to establish, maintain and keep upgrading the bigger parks, scattered throughout their jurisdictions. These parks are big, some are huge, packed with a little something for everyone. The popularity of parks has been increasing as seen from the crowds who throng there with its attendant traffic jams. Parks have always been popular, if not for exercise, then just to makan angin and jalan-jalan. There are many scattered throughout the Klang Valley - too many to mention but I have chosen just a smattering as a sampler for you. Recreational Park in Kuala Lumpur Kepong Metropolitan Park About a week ago, I had the happy occasion to send my daughter for her school's cross country event at the Layang Layang Park, also known as the Kepong Metropolitan Park. Image Credit: Pinterest I was impressed by its sheer size, it was astounding with something for everyone. A jogging and bicycle track wound and wended itself round the huge acreage. There was also a walking path paved in some places, rubber tracked in others and macadamed elsewhere. The track is an all terrain one, with flats and hills for a good workout. The lake is home to schools of fish and in turn, flocks of birds - birdwatchers and anglers take note. And for the little ones, there is a playground to keep them occupied. The park is famous for kite flying during weekends, hence its name, Taman Layang-Layang. No kite? No problem! You can buy one from the many vendors there. How does that sound to you? KLCC Park Other parks of interest within the Klang Valley include the KLCC Park. It is singularly unique as it is ring-fenced mostly with skyscrapers. Feeling hot after a bout in the park, just duck into Suria KLCC to cool off and tuck into anything that suits your fancy. Be warned though that the KLCC Park, set against the backdrop of the Twin Towers is a magnet for people from all walks of life so expect crowds. I have often found that strolling through the park to get to the KL Convention Centre for shows or concerts is refreshing. The park is well lit and guarded, so traversing it is usually safe, provided you do not go there too late as night. One of the key attractions of the Park (it also has a playground) is the Light and Sound Fountain which showcases both a light show and a light and sound show. For more information, go here. Image Credit: suriaklcc.com.my Central Park @ Desa Park City Image Credit: desaparkcity.com This beautiful park nestled in the heart of Desa Park City is open to anyone and for those who love dogs, this is the park to be in! The park is located between Arkadia which is the latest development there and The Waterfront. Very few parks allow the admittance of our furry friends, so if you would like Rover to tag along, go for it! Feeling hungry? No problem, there's a plethora of eats to choose from either at Arkadia or the Waterfront. \u00a0Bukit Jalil Recreational Park\u00a0 This is the hidden gem of Bukit Jalil, where people going there especially to feed the catfish, some of which have grown to impressive sizes! Bukit Jalil Recreational Park (Image Credit: Youtube Mohd Zubir) Many Other Notables If I were to list every park, this article would never end. But I would be hard-pressed if I do not include these notable mentions; the iconic Taman Jaya Park and Taman Aman Park, managed by the Petaling Jaya City Council. Prepping For Park Play Before dashing out the door to run over to the park, here are some basic house rules for your consideration especially if you head to the parks located further away from your abode. Clothing Fun in the sun is best played in comfortable clothes. Bring along a change (or two) of clothing. Hot and muggy weather has us pouring sweat. Dri Fit clothing is best for keeping cool in the sun. Shoes Sneakers are best but school shoes do just as well. Socks should be worn as well to absorb sweat. Little feet can lose their grip in shoes when very sweaty. Slippers or sandals for running are not always advisable. Kids sometimes run faster than their feet can catch up. Not only is there the danger of falling, but there is also the possibility of scraping the skin off their toes if they do..ouch! Towels Bring along the face and hand towels to wipe off sweaty faces, arms and legs. Wet wipes are a good idea if they need to snack to replenish lost energy. Natural Mosquito Repellent They are always out there. To have our guard up and ready, look no further than the host of natural mosquito repellents to purchase. If you are not comfortable slathering or spraying repellent on the little ones or yourself, there is always the patch. The dangers of a mosquito bearing viruses are well known and it is always best to err on the side of caution. Little Bites Kids are hungry all the time, even without all that running around. Healthy snacks are always spot on for them to tuck into when they stop to catch their breath. Hydrate, Hydrate Image Credit: freepik.com Even when not running around, it is always good to hydrate. Our hot and muggy weather drains moisture from our bodies quicker than we can replace them. When engaging in high activity, bodies lose a lot of water quickly. Have sufficient so that everyone can slake their thirst. For a change, you can upscale plain water with a spritz of lime or lemon or alternatively, throw in some slices of oranges, strawberries, mint or apples for flavour. Caps And Things Caps are a good idea, not only to provide a visor against the strong, hot rays of the sun, it also acts as a sweatband to stop sweat running rivulets down their faces and into their eyes....ouch again! Also with all that running around, with their hands touching anything and everything all at once, you may not want them to keep rubbing sweat out of their eyes. No cap, use headbands, then. They have really cute ones for kids. Now that all is said and done, let's go and get our fun in the sun! For more parenting tips and advice, stay tuned with us at story.motherhood.com.my.