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Our DIY backyard flying fox fail

Updated: Dec 9, 2021

Today I experienced something that I haven't felt in a long time. Being wrong! Yeah, I know, it doesn't happen often. And in case that puts a dampener on your day, let me just reassure you in saying that I was only a little bit wrong. There, now you feel better right? Okay, let's move on.

This week I have been wanting to do something for the kids to make our backyard a little more fun. They love being outdoors and being that we have a beautiful large yard, I wanted to plan something fun.

Then I came up with a backyard flying fox (or zip line for my American friends). I got all excited imaging the fun my kids would have racing up and down the backyard.

So back to me being wrong....

I told my husband what I wanted to do and he went into brain thinking mode (you know, the furrowing of the brow, the narrowing of the eyes - the whole kit and kaboodle!) of how we could do it. I told him I already had it all figured out and that all I would need is a big rope to tie to two trees and then the pulley for the flying fox. He interrupted my perfect mum dreams by telling me it wouldn't work (he was very sweet about it, I might add). I insisted it would. He told me that the rope wouldn't hold properly and would create a big lag. I told him he just needed to tighten it properly. He said we needed a wire cable. I said it was too complicated to go that direction.

So after our loving conversation (and my husband finding a Wikipedia page saying you could in fact build a flying fox with a rope) he agreed to help me. I climbed into my car and went down to the hardware store where I purchased the items for my dream-flyer (as I was going to call it).

I purchased a long strong rope for the zip line, some plastic tubing to put the rope through to protect the trees, a pulley, a carabiner and a child's plastic swing. I drove home from the hardware store feeling pretty pleased with myself and ready to get my handy self into action!

I attached the carabiner to the pulley, threaded the rope through the pulley and laid out my rope between my chosen trees. The rope threaded through the plastic tubing on each end and my husband helped to tie the rope to each tree.

After half an hour or so of grunting and groaning from hubby to tighten the rope we stood back to proudly survey our work. I could just picture the "Mum of the year" award right in front of my face. We easily clipped the child swing on to the carabiner and we were raring to go!

Now we just needed a test subject...

We grabbed our toddler son Zac who is two and sat him on the swing of the flying fox. His little face looked bewildered as he watched the ground below him. Holding Zac from behind, my husband pushed him on the flying fox and ran along behind him to make sure he wouldn't fall. Zac's face lit up with delight as he realised that his mother was a complete genius!

Ha! My project was successful!.... until we put a larger weight on the line. My daughters happen to weigh almost twice what my toddler does and all of a sudden my world caved in as I saw first hand that my husband was (a little bit) right. The rope dropped too low and my eldest came to a slow stop on her butt in the grass.

So it worked for my two youngest but my eldest was just a little too heavy and the distance between the trees just a little too far.

The kids did however, have a ball playing on it and I'm proud to say that I am a fun mum! But we might be upgrading to a wire rope in the next week or so....

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