Want to put your family first? Get a pergola!

August 30th 2013

I’m always reading in the papers ‘the family that plays/eats/laughs together, stays together.’ Easier said than done in our ridiculously hectic modern lives, where the family home often feels like a whirlwind of humanity. The reality of modern living is that we are under increasing time pressure from every angle: the boss, the wife, the husband, the kids.


Stressed out mums and dads are often so busy juggling work and domestic responsibilities that they’re happy for the kids to spend a few hours every day in front of the Xbox or watching TV – it allows them to get on with their jobs in peace. Everyone’s happy, right? Not according to the latest studies. I read with genuine alarm in The Guardian this week an article called “Overweight and unhappy: the children stuck in front of a screen”. It refers to a study by Public Health England which says kids who spend more time in front of screens tend to have higher levels of emotional distress, anxiety and depression. Argh!! That makes us parents feel terrible for even owning a wretched Xbox! But surely there’s no need to stick it on eBay and force the kids to go cross-country running every day. There has to be a way to find a happy medium, in which the kids are fulfilled and the parents have time to mow the lawn, do the ironing, yadda yadda yadda.

Making your outdoors space more enticing is one way to chip away at their ‘screen time’. It’s all about opening their eyes to the joy of being outdoors. I’m not talking about harking back to some rose-tinted Enid Blyton scenario where the kids gad about on treasure hunts, stopping only for a jolly nice picnic washed down with lashings of ginger beer. It’s simply about getting them outside and opening their eyes to what’s around them. Even the smallest garden has wildlife waiting to be discovered and appreciated. You can make your garden more enticing to wildlife with a couple of cheap, easy, attractive additions. Think bug hotels and wild flower patches.


I got into the pergola business because it’s a way of enhancing what you’ve already got. You don’t need planning permission, it ‘tags’ on to your house, offering an indoors/outdoors space that can be enjoyed by the whole family.

Happy families aren’t made from having a pergola alone, but it’s an easy way to help you enjoy yourselves together. It gives you a place to eat ‘en famille’ in summer, share food with friends around a firepit, chat over cocktails of an evening. It’s a lifestyle-enhancing structure that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

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I’m all for spending more time together as a family, and playing games in the garden is a great bonding opportunity and good exercise for everyone. Try your hand at croquet or quoits, or if that seems a bit Jeeves & Wooster, how about a good old-fashioned kickabout? Give them a football net and ball and you’ll be amazed how quickly they forget Candy Crush Saga.


So get ready for spring by planning your pergola over the colder months and get ahead of the queue. Spend time over autumn and winter thinking about what size, shape and colour is right for your home, and you’ll be ready to install next spring, giving you the whole of the summer to make the most of your new outdoor space. And if you’re lucky you can use your pergola as a bolt-hole when bonding with the family just gets too much!

By Adrian Valentine


Picture credits:

Family eating together: The Telegraph

Famous Five: FFP New Media

Pergola: Perfect Pergolas

Football: Ebay UK



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