Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Must Haves for Fun at the Park

by Malina


It’s spring and that means spending more time with your kids at public parks! While going to the park with kids used to be a bit intimidating, now I love taking my kids to the park. We go to a weekly park day as part of our homeschool group, but we also go to other parks with friends or just by ourselves when we need a fun activity. My kids can identify all the nearby parks that we frequent. Of course, we live in Texas where it is park season almost year round. With that in mind, I thought it would be good to share a few useful tidbits I have gained about going to the park with kids.

1. Bring water and snacks. Lots of water. At least twice what you think you’ll need. You can’t guarantee there will be working water fountains or that they are regularly cleaned and sanitary. Children who are running, climbing, swinging, and jumping will need hydrating a lot more than they usually do. Plus I read that they need more water than adults because children lose proportionally more water in sweat than adults do. Several moms I know keep a case of bottled water in the back of their car so that they are always prepared. We use reusable stainless steel water bottles that we try to keep filled and chilled in the fridge so they are ready to grab and go. If you don’t bring any water or snacks, it will probably be a short park stay. And after loading up the 1,284 things you have to take with you when you go with kids, you are going to want to stay at the park longer than 20 minutes!

2. Bring sunblock and hats. Even if it isn’t between 10 and 2, you kids can get sunburns surprisingly fast. It is better to use some sunscreen and try to get them to wear a hat than to have to deal with cranky, sunburned children later. I prefer the spray on lotion that you spray and then rub in. For faces, get the sunblock sticks. That way there is no chance of it dripping or getting into eyes or mouths. Keep sunscreen in the diaper bag if you have one, and some more in the car so that it’s always on hand.

3. Bring your own chair. I have noticed that there are never enough park benches at playgrounds for all the parents. They are also usually not in the best spots for watching your children! If you bring your own lightweight lawn chair, you can move it around and have a more comfortable seat. I’m not saying you will be sitting down much, but it is nice to have the option when you are tired – especially for pregnant moms!

4. Bring a camera. Take pictures of your kids occasionally. Sometimes the best candid photo opportunities happen at the park. I remember a beautiful clear double rainbow we saw at the park once – and didn’t have the camera with us. It would have been an amazing family photo!

Those are my top four suggestions for making sure you have a great time at the park with your kids. Of course, don’t try to read or work while you’re there – interact with them if they’ll let you. Before you know it they are too old for playing with you and are making new friends and playing elaborate games. So bask in the chance to push your toddler in the swing for 20 minutes. Enjoy taking them up and down the slide and feeding the ducks. It only lasts a few short years.

What are your must haves for a great park trip? What do you wish you’d known to always take that you had to figure out yourself? Post in the comments and share you ideas with everyone!

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