When we asked a group to picture the quintessential Australian lifestyle, thoughts turned to bush, sun, sand and sea. However, in recent studies suggest that the things we hold dear to the typical Aussie lifestyle are actually not so typical anymore.
BBQs and bushwalks are being replaced by Netflix, couches and air-conditioning. Smaller lot sizes are trimming our backyards into rarely used courtyards or balconies. This plummet in outdoor activities and spike in screen-time are leaving our physical, emotional and mental health at stake, but there’s a very simple solution….it’s time to fall back in love with our backyards!
Reclaim your Aussie outdoor lifestyle and reconnect with the Great Outdoors with these six small changes with big impacts.
1. Create a comfortable, serene backyard
The biggest question you must ask yourself is: ‘Is my outdoor area comfortable?’ If your backyard isn’t inviting, you simply won’t want to spend time there.
This is an opportunity to create a space you love! Always found island life relaxing? Add some palm trees and macramé hammocks. Love the idea of the tranquil meditation gardens of Japan? Create your own Zen garden at home. Hate the drone of traffic, or feel like you’re on show to the neighbours? Invest in acoustic fencing or a privacy wall to reduce noise and increase the serenity of your outdoor experience.
For more ideas on how to make your backyard more comfy, check out our guide to creating the perfect outdoor living space.
2. Unplug and reconnect
According to a report by Ernst and Young, Australians with a digital device spend an average of 10 hours and 24 minutes engaging with their devices every day. On top of that, 23% say they spend more time on their smartphone than talking to their partner or friends.
We’ve become so accustomed to our screens for entertainment that going ‘unplugged’ can sound like a nightmare. However, there’s a myriad of skill-building, soul-nourishing, relaxing activities that make excellent replacements to scrolling through social media feeds or binging a TV series.
Check out this list of ‘100 Books To Read Before You Die’ (yep – an actual, real book). Try your hand at drawing, painting or crafting, take up yoga or tai chi, or throw yourself into a gardening project. Maybe even try a few of them to see what suits; you might surprise yourself with which activity you fall in love with.
3. Connect your indoor and outdoor living spaces
Living spaces should be connected and flow seamlessly from the inside, out. The Australian lifestyle has embraced this trend.
In addition, layouts and building features that harness outdoor lounge areas, natural light, fresh air and water features are a great start to getting the most out of your property.
For more info, check out these tips on designing the perfect indoor-outdoor from a Landscape Architect expert.
4. Be efficient with your space
It doesn’t matter if you have a rolling acreage or an inner-city courtyard; there’s no reason you shouldn’t enjoy your outside space.
There are amazing space-saving options these days, like hammocks, collapsible furniture and vertical gardens, just to name a few. Find more inspiration on how to make the most out of small spaces with our guide to transforming your patio or courtyard area!
5. Bring the outdoors, in!
The Australian lifestyle is intrinsically linked to the Great Outdoors. Whether you have a backyard, a courtyard, a balcony or just a window, there’s a sure way to bring nature into your life; pot plants!
Succulents and cacti, draping air plants, big lush ferns, herb gardens, flowering bushes and even mini-trees. The possibilities are endless when creating your own urban jungle. Many plants are well suited to all rooms of your home, including bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchens.
For ‘outside of the box’ ideas, include water features, sky lights and fire places to add a touch of nature into your life.
6. Entice your little ones with a playground
Only 1/3 of children, and 1/10 young people undertake the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity every day, and up to 30% of an Australian child’s waking time is spent in front of a screen. Importantly, all this time isn’t being spent making memories as a family anymore.
Draw your kids away from the screen and amongst the fresh air by transforming your outdoor area into a fun playground with these amazing DIY ideas. Just five minutes of outdoor activities in nature can have an immediate (and lasting) effect on mental health. Safe exposure to natural sunlight, combined with physical activity, is thought to increase serotonin levels in our bodies.
Most of all, the time spent playing together is a priceless memory that builds connections, aids children’s development, strengthens trust and confidence. Creating a home of fun and love.