It is a bittersweet fact that kids grow up, and fast. One of the trickiest negotiations when choosing the right swingset for your kids is to find a model that fits your child's play level now, but will also offer fun and challenging activities five years down the road. An 18-month-old can amuse himself for hours with an empty cardboard box, so a simple plastic slide or freestanding toddler swing is like Disney World. A 4-year-old, however, won't have anything to do with such "baby" toys.
To complicate matters, the average American family has more than one child, meaning you need to find a swingset that simultaneously satisfies kids ranging from toddlers to 10-year-olds [source: Martinez et al.]. You might find that the purchase of a swingset sparks the kind of conversation usually reserved for major real estate investments. Questions you and your spouse might want to discuss include:
- How many more children do you plan on having?
- Will the children be spaced pretty close together in ages?
- Do you want the swingset to supplement the local park or replace the need to go to the park entirely?
- Do you expect friends and neighborhood kids to also play on the swingset?
The ages of your children will affect features like deck height. The deck of the swingset is the main platform that kids ascend to using a staircase, rope ladder, climbing wall or other accessory. The deck is also where kids begin their descent on slides. The higher the deck, the steeper the climb and the faster the slide. The same goes for monkey bars. If the monkey bar level is too high or low, it will either be inaccessible for smaller kids or unadventurous for older ones.
The number of children playing on the swingset is another important consideration. If you only expect two children to routinely play on the equipment, then you don't need more than two swings, and they won't compete for space on a relatively small deck. But if you expect to entertain a small army of children, plus their friends and half the neighborhood, you will want a swingset with a number of different play "stations" like slides, forts, sandboxes, climbing walls and monkey bars.
Once you have a better idea of the age range and size of the swingset, it's time to talk numbers. How big is your yard, and how much swingset can you get for your money?