Monday, March 30, 2009

More than One Use: Walk out deck

Multi-tasking, if mothers are supposed to be good at this, why not the things that are available to us? I've been on a bit of a quest to make multi-functional uses of items we already own. This kind of is the same as recycling except it still retains it's original use.

A city yard, 3 children who stay at home all day, 365 days a year. Last summer, our whole neighbourhood seemed to be in our yard on most days. The neighbours even started calling us a "day care". The attraction?

Really it was just a simple use of what was already available to us. We were trying to save money. We are blessed enough to have a walk out basement, which meant our upper deck was 9 feet up. What we didn't have was money for any kind of free standing exercise or play equipment. Upon much deliberation, we added anchors and chains to our deck's underside. This meant we could switch out uses for these items. We bought swings, hammocks and trapeze bars for the kids to choose what they wanted to use and made two spaces available.
By using the hooks that come with the swing equipment, they could adjust the height on the chains according to their needs. They could also make changes to items used, according to their imaginations.
To save money, we have slowly added items to this list of things they can use. At present we have a net hammock, a board swing, a strap swing, a trapeze swing and a tire/horse swing. As the children grow, we plan to make a bench swing , a punching bag, and other things available. This means keeping eyes open at Garage sales and knowing that the day will come when we don't need the swings but we won't have a huge structure to take up space in our yard as we await grandchildren.
I would highly recommend you pay attention to safety issues if you plan to go ahead with this idea. We have purchased tumble mats that fold up to place under the trapeze bar so there will be no brain injuries. Maybe over the top, but we have bought all the hardware that holds over 300 lbs, and industrial strength so that these will age and handle growth in the children. In the long run, I believe this has made the underside of our deck more useful, changeable and less limited. I'm very pleased with the outcome.
Warning: It attracts children of all ages. You'll be policing a few arguments. Enjoy!
(If you should need some names of companies, or want to know what items we used, please feel free to contact me through the comments option. I'd be happy to share my research with you.)

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I am happy to hear ideas, comments and even might be able to answer a question you may have.