Playground season is in full swing! If anything saved my sanity when I was a young mom, it was heading out to the playground. Sunny? Wear sunscreen. Rainy? Wear rain boots. It didn’t matter the weather, we went to the playground. When the weather was nice, we’d sometimes be at the playground 3 times in one day. All my days hanging out at the bottom of the plastic slide provided real-life material for my own personal playground rules.
1. Please let kids play freely
Kids need to play! It helps develop both their body and brains, teaches them independence, encourages creativity, and promotes social skills. Sure, parental intervention is needed for some basic playground rules: don’t throw sand, take turns and no pushing. But I love watching kids enter a world of their own through play that isn’t micro-managed by the parents.
2. Please take turns – but be patient
Speaking of taking turns, there are two sides to this one. Yes, the other kid should share the dump truck or the special swing. But my little angels sometimes had trouble understanding that the other kid didn’t have to drop it the moment they were asked to share. They can play with it for a reasonable amount of time, and then they will share with you.
3. Please don’t judge me for reading a book
There’s often that mom at the playground who is buried in a book or doesn’t look up from her phone. Don’t judge. Maybe she should pay more attention to her kids. But maybe she was up at 0’dark thirty with a child who wanted to know what red sounds like or how many dog years old he is and she’s been reading stories, wiping noses, and stacking blocks all day; this might be the first time she’s had 2 minutes to herself. Who knows?
4. Please clean up after yourself and your kids
Naturally. And leftover food attracts bugs.
5. Please don’t help my child do something they cannot do themselves
If my child is struggling to climb a ladder, don’t help them get to the top and then glare at me while I sit on the bench and my child teeters on a platform far higher than they could ever climb on their own. Firstly, this doesn’t facilitate my relaxation time at the playground. But more significantly, this robs my child of the chance to build her skill and confidence, discovering what her little body can accomplish. (Obviously, if a child’s in danger, that’s different.) But going back to rule number 1: let the kids play freely!
It’s time to hit the playground – we’ll see you there!