Originally published on Athens Patch on Dec. 12, 2012.
My one piece of advice to a family with young boys: buy a big trampoline.
Years ago my wife and I were examining ways to provide more outdoor entertainment for our sons. Of course, they have their bikes, scooters and skateboards, but we wanted something that could occupy them for significant chunks of time while also keeping them contained within our backyard.
We explored the options. A pool was too costly and took too much effort to maintain. A sandbox was too messy, and since I typically handle vacuuming and mopping duties, I quickly eliminated that proposal. A mini-playground was a nice idea — but then I remembered that I lack handyman skills. I envisioned our kids flinging off the swing as the base of the playground becomes loose because daddy forgot to tighten a nut, or a bolt, or whichever one it is you tighten. So we settled on a trampoline — a big one — with “easy to assemble” printed on the box. And after a two-week battle with the 200 parts that came with it, the trampoline was completed.
It was an instant hit with our oldest boys, 8-year-old Jaydon and 4-year-old Jackson, and in turn the best thing to happen to their parents.
The trampoline has become our “go-to” option when our two oldest kids are too revved up around the house. Running around too much in the living room while mom and dad are trying to relax? Go jump on the trampoline. Wrestling each other while baby is trying to get in on the act? Go wrestle on the trampoline. Nerf gun bullets flying in the kitchen while we’re cooking dinner? Go shoot each other on the trampoline. Throwing balls at each other in the hallway? Go play dodgeball on the trampoline. The trampoline has become an outdoor pseudo “time out” that everyone enjoys: mom and dad get peace in the house while the boys still get to be rowdy.
The trampoline is also the perfect year-round backyard accessory. During the hot summer months we put a sprinkler under the trampoline. When it’s raining (as long as it’s not lightning), it’s a nice way for our sons to get some outdoor time without getting muddy. I’m hoping for some snow this winter, so we could witness our first trampoline snowball fight.
Baby Matthew has even started to partake in the trampoline fun. Although we don’t let him join his brothers’ craziness just yet, he enjoys his solo time chasing a ball and bouncing around.
Even if they don’t admit it, most parents at some point have used the TV as an indoor “babysitter.” We have discovered that its perfect outdoor counterpart is the trampoline.