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For this active family, a swing and gym mat in the house are essential pieces of furniture

June Ruda, who has a 7-year-old son, believes a kid’s imagination is too good to waste with instructions on how to have fun.

“It is my belief that preparing an outline for a child to play outside is like giving them a coloring book versus a blank sheet of paper,” June, whose family lives in Palmer, explained. “Their brains are in prime time for growth during elementary years and if we do not challenge them to create their own happiness, it will change their perception of their future endeavors. Therefore, I boot him and his friends out, and give them some safety guidelines about the neighborhood and say, ‘go have fun, and make it happen.’”

June doesn’t let the weather get in the way of imaginative play indoors either. She’s put up a swing in her small house where her “son and neighbors can get wild,” she said. And she makes indoor activities eventful in other ways. “I bought a gymnastics mat for the living room and referee wrestling matches occasionally. We build forts, sometimes camp in the car in the garage, and play some games required with movement, like red light/green light, scavenger hunts, and hide and seek.”

June and her family are also big fans of hockey, soccer and swimming, indoor sports that can be done no matter what the weather. “When January and February come around, we have made arrangements for long range planning. We have hockey practice 2-3 times a week or we go to the pool. A hockey rink becomes an indoor playground for siblings during practices and local pools offer water slides and can rent cheaply for parties,” June explained.

As a family, June’s favorite activity is walking together. “It’s simple and although they complain, at least we’re talking as a family while we’re moving,” she joked. With summer coming, June’s family looks forward to spending time outside at a summer cabin, walking, hiking and biking. Last summer, they camped and fished for two weeks (pictured: June’s son, Grandpa and cousins from Anchorage and Boston last summer in Kenai). According to June, the kids were up at 7 AM and “we did not usually see them to bed until midnight. We definitely made up for the cold January and February last summer!”