Some Assembly Required
All kids enjoy playing outside. Understandably however, many parents are reluctant to let their kids stray far from the house due to growing concerns about the safety of our streets. Building a climbing frame in the back garden will not only provide your children and their friends with ample opportunity for fun and healthy activity, but it will also ensure that they don’t wander off looking for new adventures.
When choosing a climbing frame, the most important factor is safety. Be sure that you assemble it according to the manufacturer's instructions and consider the laws in your area regarding the placement of such products. Most people are completely unaware that many town councils require that your garden be fenced if you have a climbing frame so that unsupervised children do not wander over and risk getting injured. Additionally, some insurance companies require that you take out additional coverage to protect yourself in the event of a guest getting hurt. As with most things today, necessary red tape requires research before recreation.
Once you have past the initial hurdle and have made to a store, you will probably be faced with a disconcertingly large array of frames, play pens, Jungle Jims and kid’s corners. When making your selection, there are a number of factors to consider. Cost, of course, matters to most families, but there are other things to think about, as well. With proper care and maintenance, climbing frames can last for many years, so try to choose one that will "grow" with your children. Some sets are fun for toddlers and young kids, but are quickly outgrown, while others offer features that appeal to older kids, too. Though you will want to ask your kids for their input, it is probably wise not to take them along with you to prevent them from getting their hearts set on a model you deem unsuitable.
The most common frame types are wood and metal varieties. While traditional metal frames are cost efficient, wooden sets tend to be more attractive, often with lots of obvious craftsmanship on display. Typically, wooden climbing frames are more costly that their metal counterparts, but they are designed to last 10-20 years, so if you hope to use the centre for a lengthy time, it may be worth the additional cost.
In terms of features, both types of frames often include bridges, tunnels, forts, swings or even dens- which can be made safe and homely with some fun themed duvet sets such as Kylie Minogue bedding for budding songstresses or Transformers for little action men, you could even fit some curtains (remember, brown curtains will better withstand a little dirt). However, in general, wooden sets can withstand a greater weight load than their metal counterparts making them more suitable for older children and perfect for large families
Both metal and wood gym sets will require occasional maintenance to keep them in good working order so it is definitely recommended that you inspect them from time to time and replace any components that are loose or worn.
Once you have the frame in place, establish a few rules that will help your children to play safely. Young children should be supervised by an adult at all times, and even older children need to know that if they don't follow the safety rules, they will not be allowed to use the climbing frame. They should not be used in stormy or wet weather, and each component should be used only for its intended purpose. All frames will come with a set of user instructions and insuring that your children follow these guidelines will greatly reduce the risk of injury through trips, falls or equipment malfunctions.