I am the mother of a tween. I only heard the word tween quite recently; my daughters friend informed me that a tween was the time in between childhood and becoming a teenager.
Then quite coincidentally we had a meeting with a client who’s main aim in redesigning her garden was to encourage her tween and teenage children to spend time at home and more specifically in the garden; to create a space that would entice them in and lure them away from loitering around the streets and as us adults perceive it ‘get into trouble’!
It got me thinking about gardens. There is a whole host of information on how to develop a garden for babies, toddlers and small children – sandpits, ball pits, slide, swings, climbing frame, dens, trampoline, water play, chalk play… the list goes on. But what about when your tween/teen have grown out of all of this? A mass retreat indoors – to the screens, THE SCREENS!!! Whether it be TV, Xbox, Nintendo, PlayStation, computer, iPhone, iPad, smartphone, tablet etc, etc and if not, then sometimes congregating in groups in streets and parks where, let’s face it they may be susceptible to activities that we don’t want them to become involved in (legal or otherwise).I’m not saying that all of the above shouldn’t happen from time to time (we don’t want to mollycoddle them), but just that there could be other options right on our backdoor step.
By providing a space and putting some thought into the design of the garden, that will encourage our tweens and teens to spend more time outdoors, in our own gardens will give them the space and freedom to spend with their friends in a more familiar and closer environment.
With that in mind I have listed below some ideas that might provide that elusive teenage retreat. First up – how about creating an enclosed seating area, a private cosy nook where your tween/teen can meet and chat with their friends away from a constant watching eye. Make it comfortable with all-weather seating and provide durable cushions and blankets for when its chilly, but dry.
How about a hammock – a good place to relax, listen to music, gaze at the stars, listen to the birds (probably not at the top of a tween/teenagers list, but you never know), a place to sulk even!! A suspended chair or swing seat could be a good option too!
Now that we have considered the seating let’s think about what we might have in our gardens for the tweens/teens to do. Here’s just a few to get you started. Maybe a slack lining set up, pull up bar and or parallel bars (upper body exercise), skateboard practise rail and small slope, swing ball, table tennis table, volley ball net, basketball hoops.
If you are wanting to devote a little more space and dare I say it… money then how about for movie nights; an outdoor movie projector and screen with smartphone and headphones so as not to disturb the neighbours, a BBQ or Fire Pit (When they are fully old enough) or an all-weather teenage den/garden room. A place to relax and chat with friends maybe a soundproof space for the budding star!
As I’m looking back at these ideas for use in my own garden as my tween starts to progress towards the teenage years I’m beginning to think to myself – hmm I used to love Swing Ball and shooting hoops, I’d even like to have a go at slack lining, but maybe not the skateboarding!! I could certainly be enticed into a hot tub or snuggle up in a hammock or swing seat and certainly make myself at home in a ‘teenage’ den. So maybe it isn’t all just about the kids, but ideas that might appeal to us parents too. But hey let’s give the tweens/teens a go first – it just wouldn’t be cool to go ahead and join in after all the whole point was to gather ideas to create a space to engage those tweens and teens!!