Practical advice about raising children
Photo by Fotolia
Summer vacations to sunny and sandy destinations are loads of fun, but the vast majority of summer memories happen right at home in our own backyards. Many parents focus on one week of summer vacation at the beach — but why not invest in where the other dozen or so weeks of summer will be spent?
Your backyard is full of potential, especially to kids. Here is a look at how to build the ultimate family friendly backyard wonderland.
Make Safety a Priority
Your backyard should be full of fun, but without unnecessary anxiety or worry. Unfortunately, over 200,000 children ages 14 and under are taken to emergency rooms each year because of injuries on playgrounds and about 80% of those injuries result from falls.
Any upgrades or new equipment you add should meet basic safety and common sense standards. You can prevent injuries by following installation instructions and common child-proofing practices. Be sure to survey potential problem areas yourself, too.
Consider These 7 Backyard Wonderland Ideas
You can include the kids in bringing some of these ideas to fruition, but for others, you may want to call in a professional. Here is a range of ideas — from budget-friendly to extravagant — that can help make your backyard the ultimate summer destination.
Show Movies Outdoors with a Backyard Cinema
To make your own low-budget, super simple move screen, all you need is a white sheet, some nails and two trees. Or, you can opt to build an outdoor movie screen that will make the highest viewing quality for the projected film (turns out they make a fabric for that).
After you create your screen, you can move on to the fun part: the furnishings. Arrange comfy outdoor chairs, beanbags and picnic blankets near the screen. If it’s a cool night, encourage friends to bring sleeping bags--perfect for snuggling as a family. Pop some popcorn and enjoy!
Swing in a Hammock
Do you have an avid reader in the family? A hammock is a great way to ensure they enjoy some fresh air while reading. Be sure to properly hang the hammock. If you prefer to leave your hammock up — instead of taking it down every time it rains — be sure to look for a mildew-resistant material.
Set up a Zip Line
Many families own swing sets or jungle gyms. If you want to level up on your backyard activity center, try a backyard zip line. You’ll likely want to enlist the help of your talented handyman of a father-in-law or your friend who is a contractor by day. The supplies are surprisingly simple, and there are even zip-line kits ready to go for purchase if you’re not much of a DIYer. Keep in mind, safety is paramount when allowing children to hang from rope, so helmets and harnesses are a must.
Paint an outdoor Chalkboard Wall
Kids have been using chalk to decorate sidewalks and driveways for ages. There will always be a special place in our hearts for hopscotch boards and four square outlines etched in sidewalk chalk.
Elevate your love of chalk art and use chalkboard paint on fences or wall installations to create an outdoor artist’s canvas. You can hang a bucket of chalk for easy access and clean up, or simply use a plastic container with a lid, so the chalk won’t get wet if it rains.
Build a Backyard Teepee
The backyard playhouse is ubiquitous. Most kids have seen a mini house in a backyard, but what about a teepee? Create a backyard teepee using painter’s canvas as the fabric, which is sturdy but won’t cost a fortune. There is no hammering or power tools involved, so the kids can help and then decorate it as they wish. You could also use this opportunity to teach them about Native American history.
If you put a bit of sweat equity into your backyard, your family will enjoy a fun and creative summer. Consider trying one — or all! — of these projects to create a wonderland in your backyard to enjoy for the seasons to come.