I don’t know how the weather’s been in your neck of the woods, but here in the Bluegrass is has been HOT! We’ve had several 90+ degree days already with seething humidity. In these parts, that kind of heat is usually reserved for late July and August, but after a cold and snowier-than-usual winter, it seems summer has come with a score to settle.
My kids have been begging for a pool and though swimming is great exercise and it’s the perfect summer boredom-buster, a pool is also a lot of work and in the past that work has always fallen on yours truly. Thus my less-than-enthusiastic response to the idea.
But when it’s this hot, I don’t blame the kids for looking for a fun way to cool down!
|Photo courtesy Amazon
Is that even a real body on that poor child? I think not.
But not this slip and slide! Rather than invest in some cheaply made backyard water slide, I decided to take matters into my own hands and create one!
|Check it out! 250 square feet of slip and slide awesomeness!|
Now I didn’t come up with this on my own, so don’t give me too much credit. Though I’d heard of people doing this at summer youth camps, I hadn’t actually seen it until the brilliant and resourceful youth pastors of our church, (thank you very much, J. P. and A. P.,) pulled it out for the little kids at our recent church picnic. The kids LOVED it and its durability was pretty amazing when you consider there were dozens of kids sliding across it for hours!
So I thought, why not just do this at home? And why not share the idea with other moms? All you need is plastic sheeting, baby shampoo, a sprinkler, and lots of water!
I bought my plastic at Lowe’s, but any hardware store or large discount store is likely to carry some. This is fairly heavy duty plastic, not your basic plastic drop cloth. Those just aren’t thick enough. You want 4 or 6-mil plastic, “mil” meaning a thousand of an inch in thickness. (Figured I better clarify there. I’m well aware I’m writing mostly to moms for whom the word “mil” relates only to a number with six zeros after it or to some form of grain-grinding machinery.)
Anyway, the 4-mil works great for us, but 6-mil could be even better, particularly if your yard is a little rough or your slip and slide will be used mostly by older children or teens. Ask for consumer sheeting and someone will point you in the right direction. (Or do like me and try desperately to describe to a Lowes employee exactly what you’re looking for without using any of the proper terms. It’s kind of like charades, but more humiliating. But fortunately hardware store employees are trained to translate the incoherent requests of women who have no idea what they’re talking about. Trust me on that one.)
I bought 10 X 25-foot sheeting for just over $10. That’s 250 square feet of slippery fun! And most slip and slides are 16 to 18 feet long at best!
I spread the plastic in a good, smooth strip of backyard and anchored it at two corners because there was a little breeze. I was able to just use some toy trucks, but if it’s windier where you are you may need to use more and heavier weights.
After that I drizzled on the baby shampoo, maybe 1/4 to 1/3 of a large bottle at a time. The suds help create the slipperiness you need for a good slide. Dish detergent is great, too, but may sting your kiddos’ eyes, so baby shampoo is a safer bet. I used a $2 bottle of store-brand shampoo, adding more as needed.
Then I turned on the water! An oscillating sprinkler really works the best, especially one like ours that can be set to spray continually over just one small section of your yard. A nice oscillating sprinkler costs maybe $12, so we’re not talking about a major investment here, but even a water hose with a spray nozzle could do the trick.
|Okay, so my husband was really disturbed because I was sharing all these pics showing uncut grass. I was pretty sure you all would be forgiving of him. I get good pics indoors by pushing the mess aside. It’s a little harder to do that with grass…|
The key is just keeping the plastic wet without soaking it so much you wash away all the shampoo. Wet plastic is slippery, but it’s the combination of wet plastic and SOAP that makes for the best sliding!
While I discourage my children from sliding all at once, they have plenty of room to slide 2 or 3 at a time. Small holes and tears, though I don’t have any yet, can be repaired with a little duct tape on the underside of the plastic. So as long as I can keep investing in $2 baby shampoo, I will get LOTS of usage out of this slip and slide. And it cost me just over $12, plus whatever the extra water usage costs me. If I have to replace my sprinkler, which is entirely possible considering the destructive nature of my two little boys, I’ll spend an extra $10-12. That is still a bargain for a fun summer activity that gets them outdoors and exercising.
When your kids are done playing, rinse off any leftover suds with a water hose and lift the plastic to drain any standing puddles of water. Then let your plastic dry in the sun, but not for too long, so it doesn’t get too hot and start to warp or melt. On a hot, sunny day, ours takes less than 30 minutes to dry completely. Fold or roll the sheeting as neatly as you can and store it away for the next time!
So if your kids have been looking for some water fun and you’ve been wary of the traditional slip and slide, this homemade version may be the best option for you. It’s easy. It’s cheap. It’s durable.
And so far it seems my children are the ones wearing out, not their slip and slide!