Playground Playmates

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Children playing on the swings in a playground.The playground is a child’s favorite place.

Kids love the fresh air, wide-open space, swirly slides, and a seesaw. However, it’s not the colorful equipment that they crave most, it’s the freedom. The playground is their escape from rules, chores and nap time. (If you’re one of the lucky ones whose child still naps).

From my experience, this simple outing can make your little one’s day and can even prevent the dreaded words “I’m bored” from making their way into conversation. The playground can offer an array of benefits. It gets kids off their most prized possession – the iPad while ensuring they get some exercise while tiring themselves out (which is always a plus).

The best part of all? It’s free! It won’t cost you a dime and it’s a positive way of keeping your kids happy and occupied for a few hours while you catch up on emails or sit in the sun and relax, or so you thought.

As a mom, you envision a pleasant day where your tot can soak up the sun and break away from the electronics. You try your best to ignore that little voice in the back of your head that says things might turn out to be more trouble than their worth. Nevertheless, you push full steam ahead with the intent of providing a fun afternoon while also gaining some time to yourself.

So, you buckle your youngster in and get on the road. Once you arrive, your kid races towards the entry gate with excitement. You’ve spotted a bench that boasts just the right amount of shade from the cherry blossom next to it. You’ve got your book that you bought a few months back that you have yet to read and you’re ready to settle in and escape for a bit. However, before you turn your attention to page one, you scour the area to make sure your little one is in your line of vision. That’s when it hits you; there are less than five kids there, and it’s pleasantly quiet.

Here is where things can go south real fast. You see, as much as you want to believe that the playground will be your saving grace and keep your children content and occupied, it’s only a matter of time before the novelty wears off and you look up from your book to find them sitting next to you kicking woodchips around. There is also a 50/50 chance that you will find yourself walking across the drawbridge or spending an unimaginable amount of time by the swing set while the words “higher mommy’” slowly deplete you.

Before you know it, you have become your child’s playground playmate. Naturally, us moms don’t mind a couple of pushes on the swing or acting as a spotter on the monkey bars for a few minutes but after a while, you grow tired.

You look over at your bench and book while realizing that you haven’t sat down long enough to get past the first page of your easy read. We’ve all been there and now that school is out, you will be seeing a lot more of the neighborhood playground. You’ll need a plan to create the perfect mixture of mommy time and kid time.

Whether you are a mom of one or three, kids will become bored even when they have siblings. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone down the slide or pushed the other side of the double-seated seesaw while my two girls sat on the other side.

So before venturing out on your own, why not plan to go as a group? Send out a mass text to your usual mom crew and set a time where you all can meet up. Grab a blanket and picnic basket and set up shop there. If you feel like you’d rather recharge solo, offer to pick up your child’s friends and make a day of it.

By doing this, you can have the best of both worlds; You know you’ll have an hour or so to chill while your kids are having a blast with their buddies. You’ll even be doing your friend a solid while taking their little one along. You’ll never have to worry about the day turning out to be a swing and a miss ever again! No pun intended.

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