After running a business out of her Springfield backyard for the past four years, Rachel Leembruggen knows a thing or two about getting her kids excited to play outside.
So when Ipswich residents recently found themselves housebound due to COVID-19 restrictions,
Mrs Leembruggen made it her mission to share this knowledge to help local families find new and exciting ways to get outside and play in their own gardens.
“Before coronavirus, walking to the local park and playing on the equipment was a lifesaver with my three boys, so I knew I’d have to bring my A-game to our backyard play,” Mrs Leembruggen said.
“I was feeling overwhelmed at how to entertain the boys with the restrictions and I knew other parents would most likely be feeling the pressure too.”
Inspired by her small business, Plot Australia, which encourages local families to grow their own food at home through online gardening tips, creative gardening workshops for kids and home delivered ‘plot packs’, Mrs Leembruggen devised her 30 days of backyard play program.
“I put together my top 30 backyard play activities in the hope it might help even just one other mum have a chance to sit down with a coffee while her kids were happy playing,” she said.
“All the tutorials for the activities are free via our social media and use common household items that most of us have laying around.”
The activities, which include a mixture of imaginative, movement and sensory play ideas, have been a hit with the local community.
“It’s been so lovely to engage with the community over growing with kids,” Mrs Leembruggen said.
“I’ve had a lot of mums tell me they want to teach their kids to garden but they were never taught themselves.”
Mrs Leembruggen and her family.
Mrs Leembruggen said she hopes families will continue to spend time together outdoors as restrictions start to ease.
“It’s very easy to become isolated when you are at home and caring for young kids – even without restrictions,” she said.
“As a mum, I know we are all much happier outside playing; there are a lot less tears, tantrums and fights – and that’s just coming from me!
“The great thing about the activities in the 30 days of backyard play program is that they can be done at any time.”
Mrs Leembruggen said her Plot Australia ‘growing to give’ mantra has become even more important to her during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I wanted to still be able to contribute to the community and the world as a whole while I was confined to my small house block,” she said.
“So I donate profits to causes that improve food security where communities are threatened by poor nutrition, famine and natural disasters.
“It helps me stay motivated working in a small business with small kids underfoot and also keeps the ‘problem’ of never-ending washing, dirty dishes and muddy fingerprints in perspective – they aren’t really a problem at all.”
Mrs Leembruggen donates a percentage of profits from her ‘plot packs’ and workshops to a range of charities.