There are exactly 57 playgrounds in in my city.
I know this, because I foolhardily agreed to my nine-year-old’s proposal that we visit each and every one of them this year. The Great 57 Playground Challenge as it were.
At first, I wondered what I had gotten myself into. Fifty-seven trips to the playground means 57 potential opportunities to:
• get lost trying to find the right playground;
• pack too few snacks or the wrong water bottles;
• deal with the tears of sunscreen in their eyes, scraped knees, so and so being rude, etc.;
• repack the kids into the van to find a washroom, or deal with the glares of other parents while I let my kids nature pee;
• be caught in a deluge of unexpected rain if we head out even when the skies threaten; and
• be bored. (Not them, me.)
That last one was the most concerning. Initially, I was worried I’d be bored senseless. My three girls are 9, 6 and 5 – trips to the playground generally require zero involvement on my part, other than doling out the odd bandage or cheese string.
Then I realised that these playground trips were a blessing, not a curse. Each one hour (or more) visit was a chance to focus on me time, without the echoes of dust bunnies screaming my name.
We printed out a map of our city’s playgrounds that we found online, and started marking them off as we’d visit them. My eldest keeps a journal with her reviews on each park, which will be a nice way to keep critical thinking, spelling and grammar top of mind in her summer off from school.
Some days I’ve brought my laptop and worked on my novel or articles I’ve had due. Other days, being in the sun made updating my invoicing a lot more tolerable. On the warmest days I practice my hula hooping, and at playgrounds with running paths circling them, I often run or skate laps. I’ve browsed book titles on the web, reserved them with my library app and had them to read on the next outing. I’ve had friends I haven’t seen in a while meet us to catch up on everything new in their lives.
And yes, sometimes I actually watch the kids and take photos. On the rare occasion, I even play with them on the equipment myself!
When the snow flies and our playground adventure is complete, I think I’ll suggest my own challenge. Maybe visiting every spa in the city? Sample every Canadian white wine? Napping every Sunday in 2015?
Are you challenging yourself, or your kids, to something fun this summer?