I am Colm, a father to 4 boys aged 9, 7, 6 and 4, and a busy GP working full time, living in rural Ireland in Co Kerry. It is a beautiful part of the country but the one difficulty we have had since moving down rural over 6 years ago have been the long winters. How do you keep 4 busy boys burning off steam in the depths of winter!?
So when we bought, then built our dream home 2 years ago, it wasn’t the double height glazing that had me excited, nor the mezzanine sitting room, nor the walk in wardrobe, onr the architecturally designed angled hall walls, but a run down, leaking roof, 200 square metre SHED!
I could see the potential immediately. We knocked a few walls to open it up and got an engineer to commission 2 steel beams (which we subsequently had to wrap with foam) to hold the roof up. It was still very dusty, and having concrete was still quite dangerous, but with a bit of wheeling and dealing we managed to get astro-turf laid a few months after moving in.
Now, our winters don’t seem as long!
There are 3 sets of soccer goals, a basketball hoop, a boxing punch bag, hoopla, and even a squat rack now all set up. I am hounded now every weekend, and even on just returning from work before telly time at 7 to “come play in the shed, Dad!”
Often, it’s the “star game” we play, where I cross a soccer ball, one of the boys tries to bicycle kick, or scorpion kick a goal, and then I give them stars out of 5 based on how spectacular the goal is. If it was saved, I judge the goalies save out of 5. There have been a few Giroud like scorpion kick goals and the 6 year old is now well able to take the ball on the volley and smash it past his older brother.
While the star game is being played, the 9 year old is lashing sliotars against each of the 4 walls, occasionally smacking a brother in the chest and immediately apologising. The 4 year old then plays “soccer” or his version, which is picking up the ball, running round in circles and throwing it into the goal. If I ever block the ball or accidentally save it, I’m quickly informed that that wasn’t allowed and his “goal” should stand. Badminton became popular last week for a few days, rackets donated by a granduncle and without a net, the 6 and 9 year old try to keep a rally going for more than 10 shots.
There have been races, winter sports days, Halloween treasure hunts (with bats fluttering round) football and soccer matches, plenty of accidents but ultimately a whole lot of fun in the shed. It comes into its own at winter time. It allows them to burn off energy and reach their 20K step count goal on their fit bit, all in the depths of miserable wet and dark weather outside.
Written by Colm O’Giollagain
For further curious musing from the world of culture, wellness and business, please see our blog.