Talk to me about swing sets. Do you have one? Do your kids play on it regularly? Do you like having it? Do you hate it?

We’re getting ready to put down on a deposit on a play set for our backyard. It’s way more than we ever thought we’d be paying for a swing set. But once we started researching them, we found out that there is a lot more to them than you might think.

Like, for instance, that you have to power wash and re-stain wooden play sets every couple of years. Say what, now? We can barely muster up the time and energy to re-stain our deck. (In fact, it needs to be done this year. NEEDS to be done. And the project is so overwhelming and undesirable to us that we’d rather just rip out the deck. I’m serious. We want a patio anyway. But I digress.) So to have to go out there and stain a wooden play set? No thank you.

Also? We have a lot of carpenter ants in our yard. They’ve apparently been feasting on some of our trees back there, and they have made their way into our house, too. The last thing we need is to put some more wood out there for them to munch on.

While we were shopping, we came across “maintenance free” sets. They are still made of wood to be sturdy, but they are vinyl-encased so that the wood is protected from the elements, and you don’t ever have to re-stain anything. Down side? Well, they’re even pricier than their wooden counterparts.

Cha-ching. Cha-ching. Cha-ching.

It’s actually kind of hysterical how expensive (and FANCY!) some of these sets are. Some of the ones we priced out—that seemed to be at least relatively basic—had shock-worthy dollar figures. That one pictured above? That’s not one of our contenders, because if I remember correctly, that particular model runs you more than $4,000. I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that there are people out there who might drop $8,000 (or even more) for a playset. WHO KNEW?! At least hearing those figures made the ones we are looking at seem like a bargain. (Okay, not really. But almost.)

Anyway, we’re thinking it’ll be worth it. It’s a “toy” that they can grow with. I remember my brothers and cousins and I playing on our swing set until we were 8-10 years old. But on the eve of the final day on which we can put down a deposit, Michael and I are still talking about it—do we really want to do this? Somehow, this purchase seems more stressful than buying our minivan!

I sure hope these girls of ours will like it and play on it for years to come.


11 Responses to Swing Away

  1. Erin says:

    We don’t really have the option since our yard isn’t big enough for one of those types of sets (and our trees are a bit too low so the height wouldn’t work anyway) but we talked about getting something. We just got a playhouse on craigslist and have some smaller yard toys but that’s all we’ll have, we MIGHT do a sandbox but not sure. I did look at a ton of playsets on craigslist – you can get them WAY cheaper and in our area at least there are even people on there who you can hire to disassemble and reassemble in your yard. On that same note, if you do invest in a super nice set, you can probably get some good resale value out of it when the kids outgrow it!

    I never had a swingset growing up, but my husband did (his fam had 5 kids and his mom stayed at home – mine worked so we weren’t there as much). Honestly we are truly just not home often enough to justify the cost of a swingset in our yard. It’s not like I have a ton of experience in our yard yet since it JUST got warm and we just moved, but it seems like there is no shortage of stuff for the kids to play with, even if it doesn’t seem like it to me – lots of trees, bushes, stumps, rocks, etc.

    • You’ve touched on a few points that I’ve been thinking, too. Like the working mom thing. If I was a stay-at-home mom with the kids at my house all day every day? It would be a no brainer, for sure. Since we’re only around on the evenings (which are many times too hectic to play outside anyway, what with dinner, bathtime, etc.) and weekends (if there are no other plans!), it’s a little bit like… eeehhhhh. I don’t know! But then I figure that as the kids get older, they’ll be able to be out there more by themselves, which will help. Like while we’re making dinner and whatnot, they could be out there playing instead of inside with us. And once they’re both school age, I’ve been thinking that I’d love to hire a college student as a nanny for the summers so that they can be at home instead of in daycare… so there’s that, too. But of course, that’s all speculation since we’re a handful of years off from being able to do that!

      I guess I figure that if we’re EVER going to really want one? We should just go ahead and get it now so we can maximize the number of years they can use it.

  2. NOLAGirlie says:

    I agree with Erin. I also think the novelty will wear off and the play set won’t get used much and just sit. The playground is fun because it’s something kids don’t do all the time. My kids are city kids and we have a playground right across from our building but they find lots of other ways to entertain themselves other than the play structure when we’re outside, although stumbling across a new playground or a trip to a few favorites we visit every so often is very exciting.

  3. Lisa J says:

    We bought a wooden swing set in fall 2012 right before our 2nd son was born. My husband and father in law put it up in spring 2013. It has seriously been the best investment. Both boys (3.5 years and 19 months) are obsessed. They call it their playground. It’s nice to not have to pack up to go somewhere. We actually blocked off a whole area and put soft mulch down around the area because it was put up it a place where a pool was and now we don’t have to mow around it. They send their cars and other toys down the slide. The swings provide tons of laughs. My only regret is I wish we had actually gotten a slightly bigger swing set.

  4. Kylie says:

    We bought the house with one already here (before kids), however now that we have 3 children, my kids are on it all the freaking time. All day long in summers, in the evenings while making dinner, after dinner before bath to get that last bit of energy out. My kids are girl toddlers will be. 4 in aug and just turned two and a. Baby. The girls are already able to be outside on it for the most part by themselves. There are all different age sizes for swing and we have a double one now so the older can swing the other. It’s the best thing ever. My husband has already redone the wood bcs it was kinda worn out when we moved in. Makes bday parties and get together so easy as well bcs the kids are all entertained. They play make believe on the attached table and on the top before they slide down, they swing, they just love it. It’s worth every freaking penny. Toys they get tired off, but I haven’t seen an ounce of boredom with it and it’s been here my almost 4 year olds whole life.

  5. Sandy says:

    We got a swingset/playhouse at Costco last year when my daughter was about 19 months. She loves it. She is a slide and swing addict and loves going in her house and climbing the ladder up to the upper floor. It’s been great that she can just go out back and swing and play for an hour while I’m cleaning up after dinner. Or when we grill out back with our neighbors the kids just play while the adults can relax. She’s 2.5 years old now and so I see us getting a lot of use of out.

    Our set was $1,000 and took about 2 days to put together. It’s made by cedar summit and there is a 10 year warranty on the set which is probably as long as I expect to keep it in good condition before the kids are getting too big for it

  6. Rachel Gray says:

    We went back and forth for a few months about whether to get a nice set for our backyard. We have several parks near our house and we both work full-time, so we just weren’t sure how much we’d use it. The grandparents ended up chipping in on part of it for Connor’s birthday one year. Honestly, it has been WONDERFUL. He’s 3.5 now and we have a fenced-in back yard with a locked gate…we’re able to let him play out there alone for short periods of time, but I can see him from our kitchen window and back deck. He plays on it every single evening, weather permitting. We’ve had ours for 2 years this month…it’s wooden and has yet to need power washed or stained (which surprised us, as we’re both really picky about upkeep and appearance on things like that). We usually spray it off with a water hose (sometimes soap on the vinyl awning ours has) once a month or so during good weather, but that’s been all the maintenance that’s been required so far. I also highly recommend a sand box for your backyard – that’s his second-favorite outdoor activity.

  7. My in-laws bought a wooden swing set (4 swings total) with a sliding board and little canopy area last spring for their yard. I’m not sure how much they spent on it but I’m guessing under a thousand dollars. It held up fantastically to the brutal winter we had down here in NJ. When the time comes to restain it I’m going to recommend they use Behr Deckover. We used it on our deck this past spring and it’s guaranteed to be maintenance free for 10 years and can be used on all sorts of porous outdoor surfaces.

    I wish we had room for a swing set…I’d send the kids out on it every single free moment.

  8. Melissa says:

    I love our swing set, and so does Rowan. We got one from Sams Club, and it is cedar. We haven’t had issues with critters and we live immediately next to woods and a corn field. I’m sure we will have to stain and seal it eventually, but it’s still good for now. Rowan plays on it daily in the nicer weather, and I loved mine as a kid, so I think we will get a lot of use out of it. She plays on it when she’s at home with my mom, after we get home from work and hang out on the deck, and while we make dinner since we can see her from the kitchen window. It’s definitely something for her that hasn’t worn off yet. She is an outdoors girl. I hope Phoebe is too! It was less than $1500.

  9. Morgan says:

    We bought a swing set this spring from Craigslist for $75! At that price I wouldn’t feel bad if the kids (4 and 2) didn’t make much use of it. Thankfully they LOVE it. Now that the weather is nice, they are out there most evenings when we get home from work/school and after dinner as well. In addition to loving to climb/swing/slide, there is a whole lot of creative play and make-believe going on with the play set as well. It did take some serious muscle and time to move the play set from the seller’s yard to ours, but well worth it for the cost savings. The set was only a couple years old and would have been priced at over $1,000 new. If you have the time/muscle, a used set is a great way to go – many people are just hoping to get an unwanted swing set out of their yard. Good luck to you!

  10. […] We ended up ordering one from Costco—a set that was actually brought to my attention by a reader after I posted about it last time! We weren’t even Costco members, but the cost savings was enough that it made it worthwhile […]

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