A quintessential part of childhood is a day playing at the park. I remember many an afternoon playing at the playground near my grandmother’s house. We would pack a lunch and walk the three blocks to the neighborhood park. I played on the monkey bars until my hands would blister and my grandma would have to coax me off. Even now, so many years later, I can clearly envision my grandma giggling as she went down the slide with me. Creating these same beautiful memories with your child are within your grasp. Here are some tips for creating a beautiful day at the park with your child.
Make It Special
I live near my children’s elementary school. They play at their school playground daily. On the weekends, we often venture back to those same swings and jungle gym out of proximal convenience. When we plan a day at the park, though, I make a point of trying a park that is unfamiliar to them. We pack the car or bicycle buggy, and explore new territory. In planning a special day at the park, choose a location that is not overly familiar for your family. Check your city’s website for ideas of great parks in your area.
There are many things that you will need to make the day a success. It is vital that you pack a bag with all of your essentials. Here are a few things to consider when you pack for your outing:
- Food Occasionally a park will have concessions, but most often you will want to pack your own food and drinks. Decide if you would like to plan for a picnic-style meal or if a few snacks will do the trick. Somehow an hour of playing outside makes my children hungrier than lumberjacks. I try to pack a treat or two, but I also plan a protein packed snack, like trail mix.
- Drinks A water bottle goes a LONG way with my kiddos. We often need a drinking fountain for refills too.
- Sunscreen and Sun Visors/Hats Nothing makes for a crummier day than going home with a sunburn.
- Band-Aids and Antiseptic Spray Bumps and bruises are an inevitable part of a day outside. Being prepared makes them less of an issue.
- Wet Wipes These are a must-have anytime I go somewhere with my children. They are the MacGyver of items; they can do almost anything.
Enjoying the Day
You have planned, packed, and you’re ready. Now it’s time for the most important part of any day trip: Enjoy the day! It is easy to get to the park and let your children entertain themselves, but to make this a memorable day, you must be present and engaged. Be intentional with your time. Put away your phone, keep the book in your bag for another time, and play—truly play—with your child. Swing on the swings. Go on a walk to look for bugs. Play a few games of tag or hide-and-seek. Or, like my grandmother, zoom down the slide. You see, the thing that is most important about your day with your child isn’t a thing at all; it’s you, being completely present and engaged.
Now it’s your turn: Go plan, pack, and play!