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Backyard Play Equipment Worth The Investment


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In this age of television and video games, it can sometimes be hard to get your kids up and moving. I’ve written about why it’s important to make the effort (see “Why You Should Turn Off Your Technology“) and inexpensive activities you can encourage your kids to do (see “Fun and Easy Ways to Be Active With Your Kids,” “30 Outdoor Activities” and “Scavenger and Treasure Hunts“) to help them be active. I realized that in my efforts to be budget-conscious, I have overlooked one of the best ways parents can motivate their kids to get exercise—purchasing play equipment for the backyard. Obviously, each family faces its own financial constraints so I don’t want to convince you to splurge on a $10,000 swimming pool if your budget doesn’t allow for that. However, I will share some ideas for items that most families can afford (perhaps after saving up for them) that are worth the expense.

Trampoline

My kids spend HOURS jumping on our trampoline. Ours has the net surrounding it for added safety and cost us $400. My kids have created dozens of games, most that involve them taking turns so that only one person bounces at a time. Be aware that some home insurance companies will not cover you if you have a trampoline or unless you agree to strict guidelines (e.g. only one person allowed on at a time, must be enclosed in a yard that is fenced and locked). I understand that everyone has different thresholds for risk-taking. If you prefer to play things safe, this isn’t for your family. However, if your family tends towards the more adventurous and you have athletic children, this is a great piece of equipment to help them bounce out their extra energy.

Trampoline Games

 

Play House

Don’t think that play houses are just for little girls. Boys like these mini-homes just as much as their female counterparts. The fact of the matter is that kids’ make-believe games often involve pretending they are grown-ups. So, they like to have their own house, office, fort, store, etc. Just because it looks like a miniature house to you, doesn’t mean that is what it is limited to in your child’s imagination. Brand new, most of the plastic models will run you $200-300, but you can find them at yard sales for a fraction of the price and usually, in pretty good shape. For older kids, building a club house can be a fun family activity and gives you flexibility on cost since you can add features over time.

The (Play) House on Capitol Hill

 

Jungle Gym

You have a wide variety of options when it comes to choosing a jungle gym. For younger children, plastic play sets typically offer several fun features that are sturdy and sized for toddlers and preschoolers. For kids slightly older, there are inexpensive metal ones available that come standard with swings and a slide. Some models include other features like rings or seesaw.

If you want a set that is sturdy and will stand up to years of use, it’s worth splurging on a wood play set. These are usually highly customizable, include more features than either the plastic or metal models, and are built to endure years of active children climbing, swinging, and walking on them. We recently had to remove ours because at 20 years old, it had finally become unreliable. Since we live in Northern Virginia, we’ve been looking for swing sets in Woodbridge VA to replace it.

The Finished Jungle Fort

 

Tire Swing

If you don’t want to invest in an entire jungle gym or if you rent and aren’t able to install one, a tire swing is a great alternative (provided you have a tree to hang it from). Personally, I don’t understand the appeal, but every kid I know thinks tire swings are super cool and lots of fun. If the price of a tire swing is still too high for you, I can tell you from experience that a rope hung from the tree is just as popular. Just make sure it is a thick, sturdy rope and that you tie a nice, tight knot at the bottom to serve as the seat.

Tire Swing

 

Outdoor Storage Bin

I don’t know why it took us so long to figure this one out, but it literally took us years and a few hundred dollars of ruined or unused toys before we finally realized that an outdoor storage bin would allow us to keep toys and equipment in a convenient location for the kids so they would get used and put away. A small storage bin costs about $50 and larger bench-style bins can run anywhere between $75 and $500 depending on material and style. We went with a $125 bin that is large enough to hold squirt guns, balls, cones and bases, baseball bats, and jump ropes.

 

22 thoughts on “Backyard Play Equipment Worth The Investment”

  1. You really have to have a big back yard for all of these, but I would LOVE to have these! I would never have to go to a park again! lol! j/k

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  2. We invested in a remarkable Play Set and it’s worth it. I don’t have to worry about it falling down and getting out of shape. Safety is the key.

    I like the tire swing. We don’t have one,,,,,but boy do I remember swinging on them as a child. Can’t beat it…I need one!

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  3. I always wanted to have a great play area for my daughter. These options look very nice. I love the photo of the play house.

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  4. Great article. Oh how I loved the tire swing when I was young. We built an outdoor basketball court for our sons many years ago and it saw hours and hours of play every day.

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  5. Awesome post. I agree with turning of the tech toys and getting out side. We have a trampoline enclose and all. My grandchildren love it. We also got a swing set and sand box so they would enjoy playing out doors more than tv.

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  6. OMG! I Totally agree with you on the trampoline! The boys have gotten more use out of the one that we found for sale locally…It has provided hours of fun!

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  7. As a military family it is difficult to invest in some of the fun outdoor things. However, one item that is always fun no matter what your age is a trampoline! (Plus you can move it with you) We had a trampoline for years when we lived in WA and had the best time playing on it.

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  8. We actually invested in some backyard play equipment for our house a few years back and it was totally worth the money. The kids have really gotten a lot of play out of it.

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  9. Now I’m really wanting to jump on a trampoline or swing on a swing. We had lovely play equipment in our yard back when I was about 10.

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  10. When our boys were little we had a lot of outside toys, there was a huge container that was on the back porch and in the laundry room. A tire swing and tree house were some of their favorites, but safety was important.
    Cute play house if you have a girl. My boys would have shot it with paintballs. lol

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  11. OMG, that playhouse. It’s so adorable. If I had my own house Jaiden would definitely have all of this and more. Some day soon. 🙂

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  12. We always had a tire swing growing up…. back then we never worried about saftety. Now, things are so different.

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  13. Some adorable ways to let the kids have fun in a safe environment. I do love the tire swing, it reminds of when I was a kid, we had one like it as well.

    Reply

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