We’re now in the scorching days of summer, and for many parents, that means outdoor play for kids must involve water. The good thing is that there are plenty of options when it comes to backyard water play, albeit with varying levels of longevity and danger.
Here’s a look at some of the most common summer backyard toys that involve water.
Swimming pool (child) — The wading pool is a staple of a suburban kid’s backyard in the summer. But only for the summer. I challenge you to use a standard kiddie pool more than one season. Pools (circular plastic ones about 6 inches deep) are cheap and usually readily available, but they’re pretty much disposable and single-use in the summer. It doesn’t help that older kids jump in and try to gut them by picking up one end, leading to the inevitable taco crease down the middle and the side cracks that come with it.
Inground pool) — For children, it’s the gold standard. This may be because we don’t have an inground pool, but playing in a pool never gets old for my kids. On the other hand, I’ve heard rumors that backyard pools can get uncomfortably hot on sunny days (“like taking a bath”) and there’s the child safety issue of having a pool in which children can also fall. There are also expenses and maintenance. I think an inground backyard pool falls into this category because it’s nice to want things – but if you’ve never had one, you’re probably only focusing on the good stuff.
Slip and slide — Level of enjoyment: High. Danger level: High. This may be the children’s first real experience with cost-benefit analysis. And the practical ramifications of friction (or rather the lack thereof). Getting the kids to go one at a time and all in the same direction is hard enough, but no matter how hard you check the grass beforehand, it seems like a rock or stick will always end up being found under the grass. slippery track. And by “found,” I mean someone slipped on it and cut their skin. To be clear: this does not discourage anyone.
Hydrostatic level – A vastly underrated backyard water toy. I certainly understand why an adult would look at this and think that a small plastic table with a few gallons of water wouldn’t be considered a toy. However, if you have toddlers, prepare to be amazed at how much they love splashing their hands in this thing. Whether they’re just learning to stand up and sideways while hitting the water and laughing, or floating toy boats or toy sharks through the water at older ages, slicks water tables are a victory. My favorite stage is when middle-aged toddlers realize they can climb up and sit at the table to really cool off. If it were consumer reports, I would rate this one as a best buy.
Sprinkler — Probably the most classic way for children to cool off in the garden. If you have more than one child crossing the sprinkler, there is serious traffic control that needs to be instituted. We had up to six streaks through the sprinkler – in different directions. You’d think it would be something they could see would lead to a collision, but when it’s unavoidable, they’re surprised. We have instituted a one-way traffic lane in the sprinkler to prevent head-on collisions. It is mostly successful. Nevertheless, a sprinkler is an effective, inexpensive and proven garden toy for cooling off in the summer.
Harris and his wife live in Pflugerville with their six sons. Please send your comments or suggestions for future sections to[email protected].