The Sun is trying it's very best to squeeze out from behind the clouds, so now is the time to get your back garden looking ship shape and ready to play in.
Here are our top tips for preparing your outdoor space for 2014.
1. Safety First Your first priority should be to check existing play equipment, to ensure it is in a safe and usable condition.
Check for loose joints on swings, slides and climbing frames. Constant buffeting by wind over the winter can work nuts and bolts loose. This is easily rectified by tightening them back up again. You should also check that the ground the equipment is standing on is completely stable. We've had a lot of ran over the Winter, and areas that were once firm and flat may have now become soft and unstable. Also check the position of safety mats as they may have crept away from their intended position when the ground was wet and slippy.
If your trampoline was kept out and assembled over the Winter it will need a thorough inspection before its first use. Check the safety mats are still securely covering the springs, and that the net is secure with no gaps in it. We sell replacement parts if you need them.
2. Have Your Children Outgrown Their Toys? Take an inventory of the play equipment you have available for your children and consider these are still developmentally appropriate for your children. Larger pieces of play equipment should offer a degree of challenge, but safe enough for children to use with minimal support. Maybe it's time for a taller slide, or a more challenging climbing frame. If so, now is a good time to buy them as you will get maximum time to use them this year.
3. Somewhere For Parents Have you got somewhere comfortable to sit? Children need to be supervised when playing outside, so make sure you have a comfortable chair to perch on, and somewhere to rest your coffee cup. Position yourself somewhere in the shade, close enough to intervene if needed, but far enough away so you won't be constantly banged and bumped by energetic children.
4. Storage Solutions Make sure your storage options are accessible to your children. They are more likely to go and play outside if they can reach their bikes or go-karts without needing to ask for assistance, and tidy up time in the evening will be much easier if they can put their own toys away. Keep small items like buckets and spades, or water pistols, in their own smaller storage buckets, rather than just throwing them into the shed.
5. Play Inspiration Sometimes children need a little help to get their imaginations going. Make up a library of play ideas that you can enjoy with them in the back garden. If they are looking bored and listless, flick through the ideas and find something to get them started, After a short time playing with you, they will invent their own games and begin playing independently.
For more outdoor play ideas and inspiration visit the Wicken Toys blog.