Dear Fellow Parents At The Park,
I'm with you all the way in this parenting journey. But fellow moms and dads can bring out the best in us, or the very worst. I love to take my kids to parks and playgrounds. But I have noticed a few issues that can either make or break a fun time out in public. Humor me, if you will, by listening to my pet peeves, and I'm confident that a good time will be had by all!
When you take your kids to the park, embrace this motto: If we take it to a public place, expect “the public” to want to play with it. If my kids bring a scooter, a pail and shovel, or a dump truck, we try to bring extras when we can, and we expect our kids to share with others. It's no fun for moms to spend their entire time at the park trying to coral their kids away from your toys because you don't want anyone else to play with them. If you want it just for yourself, then play with it at home, or somewhere else where you won't have to settle a hundred disputes with other curious kids.
If a two-year old hits your two-year old, don't overreact and give the other child and their parents the stink-eye for the next two hours. Especially if the mother or father deals with it instead of turning a blind eye. Anticipate that kids are immature, they don't always keep their hands to themselves, and use it as a teachable moment by showing forgiveness and grace.
If you go to a public park, swimming pool, or playground with your group of BFF's and their kids, don't totally ignore all the other moms and their kids. That one mom who is hanging out by herself is probably super cool and in need of some friends too. Cliques weren't fun in high school and they are even worse as grown women.
If you make a play-date with your friend at the park and she has a toddler, don't sit with the other moms on a bench the whole time while your older kids play independently. Toddler mom also wants to have some adult conversation, but she has to stand under the monkey bars so her little one doesn't fall and break her arm. Travel from slide, to tunnel, to climbing wall, with your friend and include her in the conversation.
If you have older kids, teach them to watch out for little ones who are sharing the playground with them. It's not fun to see a teenager barreling down a heavily populated sidewalk on his skateboard with no regard for little kids who could get seriously hurt. Teach them the word “yield” and make sure they practice it. Long-legged 12 year olds' version of “tag” and a 5 year old's version are not the same thing. And why is it that the smallest and youngest kid is the one everyone chooses to be “it” first while everyone leaves them behind in a cloud of dust? Remind mature kids to tone down their games if they are gracious enough to include younger ones.
Bike paths are for bikes. Pedestrian paths are for pedestrians. You can WALK your bike on a pedestrian path, but please, don't continue to illegally ride your bike where kids and adults alike are walking. I have witnessed many a tragedy because bikers decided they could ignore this rule. So not worth it.
Please, leave your kid's DS and IPAD at home. I want my kids to run, jump, and get their hearts pumping-preferably WITH your kids! If your children are sitting down and playing the latest video game, my kids will be tempted to sit and watch too, which will make me the mean mom who insists that they walk away and play a game of hide and seek. Enjoy the outdoors, and leave the gaming for another time and place.
YOUR TURN! What is one of your favorite “tips” for the playground or public park?
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