Now that we are in the middle of summer, my Cleveland friends frequently comment on how nice it is to be able to bring their kids outside. Taking advantage of every nice day by spending time outdoors is something inherent when you grow up in a Midwest climate, and it is something I have taken with me.

Playing outside on a nice day is something I plan to continue doing with my family — and it’s time to step it up a notch. Adding family fun to the backyard does not have to be hard or expensive. There are many ways to add to your outdoor space for the family, in a variety of budgets:

Playground equipment


Whether you add a swing from a tree, a whole swing-set, a slide or a seesaw, consider adding something fun for your little ones to climb and play with. You can go all-out with custom-made equipment or purchase plastic versions new or even second-hand.


Bring the beach to your home by adding a designated sand box. You can purchase a second-hand plastic version (remember the green turtles from your childhood?), or build one yourself using some wooden boards. If you live in an area where cats may wander into your yard, remember to add a lid to keep it from becoming a litter box. Add beach toys and you’re good to go.


My daughter’s favorite pastime is painting. However, doing this indoors is simply no longer an option. Paint goes from the paper to her hands and face, and then to everywhere else she touches. However, designating an outdoor space for paint and drawing can help to keep the messes to surfaces I can easily hose off. Hang large sheets of paper on a mounted easel, or place a store-bought easel outside instead. If your kids like chalk, paint a portion of a wall or fence with chalkboard paint, or leave sidewalk chalk out for them to draw on the ground.

Water play


You can go all-in with an installed in-ground pool or opt for an inflatable baby pool instead. Also consider things like a water table, slip n slide or even a makeshift sprinkler.

Simply poke holes into a 2-liter bottle and attach it to the end of a hose.

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