By: Brooke Takhar
My baby is now three years old but I still remember the early days in our tiny apartment, bored, tired and grumpy. My go-to solution was always to bundle us up to sustain gale force wind trauma and walk to the nearest playground.
There are rules posted at every playground, but I know now the important ones are missing. That small piece of acreage topped with metal and bouncy flooring can contain multiple moral teachings. Consider the playground the very first steps towards your child being awesome instead of awkward; kind instead of cruel. Sounds kind of crazy, right? It’s not that difficult if you follow my personal Playground Do’s and Don’ts.
DO head out rain or shine
Kids love rain, mud, snow and puddles. It’s us adults who have hang-ups about the weather. Dress accordingly, pack an old rag to mop off the equipment and you’re golden. The best playground adventure I ever had with my daughter was an overcast drizzling morning where we chased each other all over a deserted playground, shared a snack on a wet slide and merrily marched home as the sun started to peek out.
DO bring snacks to share
One day two little girls circled my daughter with the most enticing food ever – ripe slices of watermelon followed by large chunks of angel food cake. My kid looked over at my paltry yogurt covered raisins and I silently cursed myself. Now I always bring a multitude of snacks, with plenty to share. Sharing food as adults is a lovely way to strike up fun new conversations. It can absolutely work the same way with children. Just make sure you ask Horatio & Irmegard’s mom if they can have some first. You don’t want an unsuspecting allergy attack ruining a good teeter totter session.
DON’T get involved in conflict
Do not discipline the other mama’s child Geronimo, even if he has tried to take a chomp out of your child’s precious peaches and cream cheeks. Remark out loud, “Oh dear, biting is not how we solve a problem,” then grab your kid and move them elsewhere. Getting involved in a disciplinary “who did what” scrum is the stuff YouTube dreams are made of. You don’t want to be on Vine on repeat shoving a mom to the ground while yelping, “My kid is not EDIBLE LuLuLoser!” No, no you do not. (That is not a very good insult either.)
DON’T pull out your phone
Communicate with the people standing right in front of you. If you say hello to the other children and their parents, or even just smile and nod, little eyeballs are watching. The easiest way to encourage your children to be awesome is to be awesome yourself. If they always see you with your head buried in your phone, putting up that barrier, they will do it too. This is a hard rule to follow, I know. Even when I’m taking pictures of my daughter on the playground it feels like “I only came here to garner new material my Mommy Blogger Instagram Feed.” The best way to avoid temptation is to just put your phone away.
Be real. Be you. Be in the moment with your kid and you might even have a bit of fun too. Crazy, right?
Do these Do’s and Don’ts ring true to you? I’d love to know your playground parenting etiquette – leave a comment below!
Brooke Takhar is a mama of one monkey, based out of Vancouver, BC. She blogs about the trials and triumphs of parenting at missteenussr.com. When she’s not obsessing about her lack of DIY skills and exotic face creams, she shares her life and loves via Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.
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I love this, it’s funny but it’s true. I never thought about sharing snacks, but why not, it’s community building and just plain nice.
Oh yes! We love rainy days at the park. Why else did I buy him a one-piece suit that makes him look like a red Michelin man? Now if only I had a suit to protect my pants for when we sit down for snack time…
Great rules! The conflict one is tough for me as my shy little monkey will “wait her turn” endlessly while other kids jump in front of her. Repeatedly. Trying to teach her that a little assertiveness isn’t necessarily a bad thing 🙂
Totally agree! Those are great tips!
I wish these rules were followed even just on the playground at the schools I have worked at. Great advice for all playground situations.
Amber – With no siblings, any opportunity to get her to share is awesome. And when I bring out the strawberry Pocky, the other kid’s hungry eyes just kill me.
Brianna – I LOVE those frog suits – do they make them for adults? I would totally rock a cheetah one 🙂
Heather – I have a natural tendency to avoid conflict at all costs combined with a hair trigger temper, so it works best for me to whisk her away, but I totally hear you. Gentle assertiveness is an excellent trait but I worry my 3 year old will translate that into powerful budging haha.
Salma – thanks so much! 😀
Many of the local playgrounds that we go to are routinely unpopulated. IE we are the only ones there. Occasionally we go to busier ones nearby. They’re so busy, we never have an opportunity to meet other parents or children for that matter. I wish our local playgrounds were utilized more.
In regards to conflicts, I will step in, if I see older children being rough physically and verbally with younger children. I’ve worked as a teacher of young children for a number of years so my playground monitoring habits usually kick in.
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