Spring is finally in the air here in the mid-western United States. That means more fun in the sun. That also means a lot more trips to the local parks. This is a favorite activity for my toddler. But I must admit that I have a love/hate relationship with the park. I’m sure I am not the only one. Let me tell you why.
My Love/Hate Relationship with the Park: What I Love
I love that it is an excuse to get my toddler outdoors. He loves to be outside and the cold winter months make him crazy. I also enjoy being outdoors, so the park is always a great reason to get out of the house for a while.
My son is super high energy, so the park is a great outlet for that energy. He can run, jump, and climb until he completely exhausts himself. This leads to a much mellower child at home. In turn, I can accomplish more of my to-do list without worrying about my child bouncing off the walls.
The area we live in has an abundance of parks. There are more than I can reasonably count. My toddler has his favorites, and most are close to home. We can make a last-minute decision, and visit one at any time. That is nice because it allows us to get there more often.
My son is at that age where he has become very social. He’s an only child so any time he has an opportunity to play with other kids is the best day ever for him. I worry sometimes about him being behind on social skills because he spends so much time around adults. The park gives my son plenty of opportunity to interact with different children and learn how to conduct himself.
Sleep! My child never sleeps better than when he’s had a fun day running around and playing at the park. Being so high-energy, my son always has had issues with sleep. He will usually go to sleep no problem, but staying asleep is another story. I seriously don’t think he slept through the night from the time he was 8 months old until he was about 2 ½. The park wears him out enough that he sleeps like the proverbial baby.
My Love/Hate Relationship with the Park: What I Hate
Some of our local parks are massive. Great for kids, but hard on parents. Since my son is only 3, I can’t trust that he wont wander off. I have to keep him in my sights every moment. However, his favorite park to play at has an extremely large playground. It gets really packed with children on nice days. I tend to find myself running frantically from one end to the other, trying to find my boy in the crowd.
Many parks have playgrounds geared toward school-age children. My 3 year old loves to play, and is completely fearless. He will climb anything. Run, jump, swing…you name it. He gravitates toward older children and will mimic their play regardless of safety. (When you’re 3, you think you’re invincible). This leads to many heart stopping moments. I don’t want to be a complete helicopter mom, but there are times where I am completely terrified he is going to jump off of or fall off of something way too high.
Being only 3, my son doesn’t always know how to communicate with other kids. So sometimes it can be almost heartbreaking watching him try to play with other children and being ignored or left out. He’s getting a little better with it. However, he’s a big kid for his age. He looks about 5 years old. So older kids don’t always understand that he’s just a little guy. When he gets ignored, he will find something else to do, but as a mom, I know he’s sad.
Other kids at the park are a great resource to learn bad behaviors. Don’t get me wrong, because my boy is no angel. However, he is pretty well-behaved and well-mannered for being a threenager. That being said, he is at the age where is copies behaviors and words/phrases he hears. Example: A child was running from his parent (the parent was trying to get the child to leave) and yelling “Na Na Na Na Na! You can’t catch me!” Apparently, it looked like great fun because my son decided to start trying this at home when its time to get dressed, or eat dinner, or take a bath.
The inevitable fight to leave is never fun. I get it, kid. You are having fun. But we have things to do. We need to go on with our day. There is nothing worse on a hot, steamy summer day than having to wrangle a crying and sweating toddler out of a playground and into a car. Wrestling alligators would be easier, and more fun.
That’s why I have a love/hate relationship with the park. I’m guessing I am not alone. Regardless, you will be able to find us at our local parks on most any nice day this summer. The good outweighs the bad for us. How do you feel about the park? I’d love to hear why you either love it or hate it in the comments below.
For more fun ways to enjoy the nice summer weather, you can check out our ultimate summer bucket list HERE.