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Make A Backyard Playground So Your Kids Will Stop Destroying Your House

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Throughout most of the country, playgrounds are closed indefinitely thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. The only way to access a playground is to have one yourself, and this is a tall order. Assessing how to turn your backyard into a playground requires planning, purchasing, and sometimes a lot of work. But in a pinch, you can make do.

For almost all of these ideas though, you'll need a level surface. This is not as easy as it sounds. Thankfully, stores like Home Depot have guides available to show you how to prep your yard for all the equipment. Having done this at my sister-in-law's house, I will tell you that it might take more hours than you think, and you'll be completely covered in sweat. Order your post-playground beer now. Also if you cannot put it together yourselves, it might have to wait until arrangements can be made because "playground installation" is not an essential service. (Although I can understand wishing that it were. My kids are cooped up and unhappy.)

These ideas range in prices and difficulty, but it is worth the effort. I've included some "summer" type projects, because we're getting closer to warm weather, and at some point, you're going to want the kids outdoors more than not.

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1. A Classic For A Reason

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My next door neighbors had a tire swing over a lake growing up, and it was the best thing ever. If you've never been on one, then I am sorry, you missed out. This is the cheapest item on the list, as it just requires rope, a drill, and a used tire according to good ol' Bob Vila. You know what's still an essential service? Tire places.

2. Indoor/Outdoor

It has a ball pit, so you might want to keep this indoors for the time being, but it's dead simple to put together, and your kids will play with it for hours. It's also bright and cheerful, which is something that will benefit everyone right now. A little bit of extra sunshine in your day.

3. Vintage Playground Vibes

I don't know what your elementary school called it, but we called it "moon mountain," and we all played on it every day. Now Magic Cabin has a scaled-down version for your home. Why don't they make one for adults to play on?

4. Indoor Play House

Perfect for basements and family rooms, this sturdy but reasonably-priced play house is great for people like me who might not have a big backyard. Birch Lane always has innovative products, and this one is no exception. At just $143, it isn't a huge purchase for many Americans.

5. A Big Sprinkler

This is beyond fabulous: an inflatable rainbow sprinkler that your kids can run beneath. You know this counts almost as a bath in the summer, right? It's in class 101 of parent rules.

6. A Splurge

This isn't cheap, so it might not be affordable to everyone. However, if you can afford it, it's a great, durable playset. The ratings on this one are sky high.

7. Basketball Hoop

An absolute essential for a backyard playground. We always had a basketball hoop when I was growing up, and while I never became an excellent player, I could play HORSE with the best of them. (I lost every time, but I did play.) This model is sturdy but moveable, so it's convenient for a variety of housing situations.

8. Soccer Goals

As a soccer-playing soccer mom, the idea of not having soccer goals is anathema to me. What is life without soccer? These are pop-up, so they can be put away easily, and they're the best price for a pair that I've found. I suppose they'd also work for lacrosse or field hockey, but I don't understand how those games are played, because again, I'm a soccer mom.

9. Bounce House

Bounce houses are selling out everywhere because people are legitimately setting them up in their living rooms. If you have to set it up in your backyard, make sure it's securely tied down. And then? Sit back and watch your children throw each other into inflated walls.

10. Water & Sand Table

These entertain the heck out of little kids. My son used to play with his for hours. Yes, it can get messy and wet, but that's at least three-quarters of the fun for kids. Pro tip, if it's on the grass, add shaving cream for maximum messy fun.

11. A Playhouse For The Ages

I had a nearly identical playhouse to this one growing up. It's the most fun. My little brother did not love having to be the "baby" all the time, but he eventually got over it. I think.

12. Sandbox

OK, so you're going to want to keep these covered when you're not around them so that animals don't use it as a litter box, but you know your kids will think it's the bee's knees. Plus, once the sand is soiled, it's great to use to weigh down your planters. It's a win/win.

13. Tree Swing

This is a really nice tree swing, seriously. The webbing will stretch slightly, and it spins on every push. It's easy to install, which is great because I am not handy. It goes on sale pretty frequently, so catch it while it's discounted.

14. Parkour

Indoor/outdoor parkour for kids. It's solid wood, which is great for rambunctious kids, and it's handmade. Yes, it's pricey, but it's so nice, you'll be able to hand it down or resell it.

15. Blue Wave Hanging Woven Rope Tunnel

Tell me that you would not have loved this rope tunnel as a kid. What wonderful genius engineered this? It's magic.

16. You'll Need A Ton Of Mulch

This is a giant bag of rubber mulch. It lasts a really long time, it's a soft landing surface, and it's pretty much foolproof to put down. Yes, it's spendy, but it's worth every penny.