I am a dad with a lawn. I love having a lawn, because it's a pastoral, free-range pen where I can send my boys when they're feeling too bickeriffic. I can also sentence these same boys to yard work when one of them, for example, hands in a cursive handwriting book with 40 (FOR. TEE.) unfinished pages. You gonna shirk your homework, boy-o? I've got lots of recalcitrant, prickly weeds with your name on 'em.
The other important thing? Backyard Camping, which is a lot like real camping, in that you can show your kids how not to freak out when a Daddy Longlegs wanders into your bedroll. Also, though, you've got a nice, (mostly) clean bathroom right there, 20 feet away. Right next to the fridge.
When the weather finally broke into spring, I invested in a four-person dome tent that we've been using nonstop ever since. The boys have loaded it with books and sleeping bags and weapons and games, and we sleep in it just about every weekend. When we're in there, it's easy to pretend we're deep in the woods because I'm surrounded by woods and polite neighbors. All you can hear is the crickets and the above-ground pool next door, whose filter babbles the water like a tributary.
The first two times I crashed in there, I couldn't sleep to save my life. Then I got smart and went to one of those Outdoors Retailers that sells you anything you need to climb Mt. Hood and shoot eight reindeer when you get there, and I bought a camp bed. Now, I can't get enough. My yard is my Ambien. I sleep like the dead, straight through until morning. It's amazingly life-affirming.
And now, I can't help myself. I've acclimated. I'm in there every night, whether or not the kids are over. I have an external playhouse, and my house-house is just a big shed with my stuff in it.
I do, however, have to remember to move the tent every so often, lest I kill off the grass in big, square swaths. I'm thinking of making an oversized chessboard.