How to teach your children to push themselves (on a garden swing)…

In a world where we normally wrap our children up in cotton wool, the swing is a place where your children can learn to take calculated risks. It is where they can literally learn to “push themselves” and create their own fun.

I am guilty of having done the pushing for them for too long. I expected that one day they would just figure out how to do it themselves… but I was wrong. It was getting embarrassing for the world’s most famous swing maker to have children who didn’t know how to propel a garden swing!

Can your children push themselves?

Teaching them how to do something that comes completely natural to me, was more complicated than I thought. I guess I had the advantage of growing up without screens, with parents who didn’t have time to make sure I was doing something productive all the time. I probably spent hours working it out long before I can remember.

So how can you teach your child to move the swing the traditional way, when they don’t have hours and hours to dedicate to the task? We have broken it down to a few movements illustrated below:

Start pumping your legs - stretching them forward then drawing them up underneath you at the same time as you lean your torso in the opposite direction. At the peak of the front-swing, your head and body goes forward and the legs go backwards. At the peak of the back-swing, head and body goes back, and the legs go forward.

Find a rhythm, keep at it and viola – it starts to move!

If you look into the technical explanation of how this works it is apparently the symmetrical movement that creates the kinetic energy on the pendulum that is the swing.

“Swings work by converting potential energy into kinetic energy, then kinetic energy back into potential energy, over and over again.”

The higher you go on the swing, the more potential energy you have.

Even though you're not moving at the very top of each swing, you can think of your height as your potential for speed. A physicist would say that your kinetic energy - that is, your speed - is "stored" as potential energy at the top of each swing. More height is more speed, just waiting to happen.

Pump after pump, the energy you burn in your legs increases your swing's potential energy. That extra height will add up, giving you a wilder swing ride.

This is the extent of my understanding of the laws of physics in play. I have tried to learn about the interaction between momentums, torque, gravity and pivot points, but have accepted that I am far better at carpentry than physics.

I am simply happy to observe that this is how it works!

In learning the workings of the swing they do not only learn the meaning of life, but they develop balance and co-ordination and get a full body workout.

The garden swing can be a great place to escape to for a moment of calm for all ages. The gentle movement of a hanging swing puts everybody at ease. Sit there with a baby in arms, a toddler in distress, an angry teenager or even a stressed spouse and see the effects. Great conversations just happen in places like that, and from great conversations other paths are carved.

Such a place is also perfect for capturing on camera, and we have seen many beautiful portraits and family photographs. Smiles and postures are not awkward when you are on a swing. It is the perfect location for that ‘first day’ going to nursery, school or university, or to gather your loved ones to capture other milestones in life.

Seeing your swing hanging in the distance is also a daily reminder to slow down and take a moment to breathe, even on the days this is simply a good intention rather than our reality.

A customer recently wrote to us to tell us that her garden swing is the most precious thing in her life, after her daughter and her dog. I think she is still married... On a regular basis we hear about how meaningful our swings are in people’s lives all over the world. More than once have we been told that our customers were not allowed to take their swing with them when they move house as it was the reason the buyers bought their house!

In the same way I do not claim to understand the physical mechanics of the swing, neither do I think I will ever fully understand it’s emotional workings.

I prefer to put it down to pure MAGIC...