After a recent trip to the park with our two little boys, my mum asked me if it was “normal” for other parents to abandon their children for others to watch at the park while they had a chat or drank coffee on the sidelines.
I laughed a bit and then shrugged it off. But actually – when I thought about it later, I realised she had a point. (Again).
The park has many up sides; there’s space, other children, equipment and fresh air. All the makings of a perfect hour or two out together ... and yet, very often, the experience turns out exactly the opposite.
Why? Because the park is a bit of a frontier. And for all the great things about that – like any other frontier, there are simply no rules.
Well, not unless the parents enforce them.
So, in the interests of parental sanity and a happy, fun time at the park for all the family, here are 5 rules for everyone to obey.
Watch your child
Your child is your responsibility. As are any other children you may have brought along with you. Make sure you know where they are and how they’re playing at all times. Don’t rely on others to tell you that they’ve made a run for the bubbler at the other end of the park.
Let everybody have a turn
Monitor how long your child is playing on a piece of equipment. In my experience, the baby swing and the slide are the worst offenders in this scenario. Explain to your child as you’re putting them on the swing/slide that after five minutes, it will be somebody else’s turn.
Don’t share food with kids you don’t know
Yes, it’s kind to share. But with allergies so common these days, it’s vital that you don’t compromise anyone’s health, no matter how well-meaning you’re trying to be. One way to avoid this is to take your kids to another part of the park to eat, or eat before or after you go.
Head to playgrounds that are the ‘right size’ for your child
Once we had our second child I found this a bit of a challenge, as a lot of the parks in our neighbourhood are for children at the higher end of 4 or 5. This can be frustrating for the child and, obviously, unsafe. Similarly, if you have a much older child, make sure they are aware of the smaller children around them and ensure they’re not barrelling down the slide at pace, with the potential to hurt others.
Encourage gentle play
Ever stood by while another child runs at force into your child at the park? Or worse still: watched your child do it to someone else? It’s a very uncomfortable feeling! Avoid it by explaining to your child that they need to be mindful of other children and to make sure they are not running or playing forcefully.
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