We all remember the cool house. The friend’s house as we were growing up that we loved to go to and always had a blast at. Well when it is our turn as parents to make the home, we get to decide how it will look and what it will be. As part of that process, why not make your home the house that all the kids want to come and play at. Surprisingly, you may be able to do all of this for far less money than you think.
What does it take to make your home in to the house that is the envy of all of the neighbor kids?
1. Choice – More than anything else, having an adventure friendly house for you and your kids is as simple as choosing to make it one. Whether you rent, have an apartment, or enjoy your own house, you choose how to furnish it and what you put into it. In all areas, you can find a way to incorporate fun into your home, even if you only have one exciting thing that people notice.
For example, one of the first things that kids notice when they come over to our house to play is that we have a swing…inside…down in our basement. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had someone over and we are talking as parents upstairs and the kids all come running up stairs to grab their parents to come see the swing. It is simple. We drilled four holes in a board, painted it, tied an old static climbing rope to it and screwed the two eye bolts into the ceiling joist supports.
2. Attitude – Winston Churchill said “attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference”. This totally applies to having adventures whether at home or away from home. You set the tone for your kids.
3. Priority – if you don’t do it for your kids, who will? Just like making time for your kids is important, so is the type of things you do with them.
Some of our examples are simple. Some of them cost some money, but all of them are awesome!
Treehouse – If your’re lucky to have some trees, or at least not to have an annal retentive HOA that directs your every move, a tree house can be the ideal setup for any kids. We built a treehouse this spring and it has been a hit ever since. Watch in the next few months as we put up a tutorial about how to build a treehouse. Throughout the summer we watched movies out in the tree house, had picnic’s or just played.
Slide/Swing set – A tried and tested backyard staple, you can go simple or elaborate. We keep it simple with a rope swing from our tree and a built-in slide (hint: try to tie your swing from the highest branch possible – your kids will thank you). My dad would go down to a local furniture store and we’d collect the refrigerator boxes and then we’d stake it to the top of a hill and make a homemade slide. Hours of fun either way.
Indoor Swing – as mentioned before, this can be as simple or elaborate as you want. Here’s a picture of our swing. It’s easy to build and our kids use it nearly every day. Ok, sometimes, I use it every day…why wouldn’t I? I’ve got a swing in my house.
Climbing wall – What kid wouldn’t love to have a climbing wall at home. Whether it is for the intent for them to be the next crag-king or just to have fun, either an indoor or outdoor wall fits the bill. We have one family friend who rather than having traditional bunk beds, they built hanging platform bunk beds where the only way to get up into bed was to climb the climbing holds up to the bed.
Sand Box – Whether it is the plastic container or a full on backyard beach, sandhills offer hours of exploration and discovery. Just make sure to cover them up to avoid the stinky feline surprises on your kid’s next treasure hunt.
Forts/Exploration – Both indoor and outdoor fort building are awesome. Give your kids a pile of random materials and see what they can come up with!
Garden – Even if it is small, gardens have a lot to offer. Maybe not as exciting as some of the other suggestions, but adding it to the mix just offers you one more way to entertain and occupy your little adventures. There are always bugs, worms and new things growing which offers discovery and understanding of how the world works.
Fire pole – a lot more planning or remodeling goes into this one if you have it inside, but one of my friends had one in two separate houses, and we couldn’t get enough of it. Enough said.
Zipline – Honestly, this is by far our kids favorite aspect about going to Grandma & Grandpa’s house. Sure they have a swing set and a tree house, but the zipline is where they want to play for hours! With kids who might not be able to hold on to the handles on their own, we rig them all up with a kid’s harness like this one, and in any weather, they’ll be out begging to be next. They’ll ride it for hours.
Atomik Climbing Kids Climbing Holds - These are not your average playground holds. These are real climbing holds that are specially sized for kids small hands. The 24 pack of holds offers a variety of holds with most of them being on the small and medium size range and a few large ones. Although there are several small ones in the set, if strategically placed (with the bigger holds near the top for hands to grab), this doesn’t seem to be a problem. If you’re looking for bigger holds, they have those as well. Okay, really they have any type of climbing hold you could ever want! The best part is, the price is amazing. The 24 pack of holds is only $85 making it WAY less than the competition (without sacrificing quality).
We teamed up with Atomik Climbing Holds and built a climbing wall for our treehouse. If you are interested in this idea, Atomik has a great variety of climbing holds and more importantly have a wealth of information here v about building climbing walls on their website. It gave us all of the information and specifics that we needed to know. Also, if you get stuck, just call Kenny who will be happy to answer technical climbing wall questions for you. The wall was fairly easy to build and could be done in a long afternoon (we made ours more complicated by staining the wood and using 2×6 boards we already had and it still only took about 7 hours).
Slackers Zipline Kit - This zipline kit has everything you need for years of backyard fun (okay, except the trees). We easily set this up in about an hour! The best part about it is that it is rated for up to 250 lbs so everyone from Chloe to Grandpa enjoyed playing on it without any problems. A nice feature of this kit that many others lack is padded handles. After several rides on the line, this is a
life hand-saver. These kits come with either the regular handlebar, or a handlebar and seat set.
Handy Dad in The Great Outdoors by Todd Davis - This is a great book all about projects that Dads and kids can build together. This book has lots of great tips for outdoor adventures that you can easily adapt for a backyard adventure as well. There are lots of great ideas including fire building, panning for gold, lizard catching, slacklining, and my favorite TARP SURFING! A fun book with lots of fun ideas to keep your family full of adventure.
One lucky reader is going to win the best backyard on the block complete with a 24 pack of climbing holds, a Slacker Zipline, and a copy of Handy Dad in the Great Outdoors.
Thanks to Atomik, Slackers, and Chronicle books for providing items for this review