10 tips for trips to the park with 2 under 3

I slept so deeply from 9:30pm that when William woke at midnight I could hardly move to get up to him. I got him back to sleep within about half an hour but I am still awake. Don’t you hate that? I know I’m not alone on this one.

He has to start sleeping through the night soon. Surely. Oh goody Alexis just woke for a wee and woke William up while she was at it.

Oh well it gives me time to write a post.

This morning I posted a picture to my personal Facebook page of the kids having fun at the park. A close friend of mine commented,

awesome job with both of them by yourself. Mine run off in different directions and just about cause heart failure trying to catch them, so we don’t bother unless there is two of us.

I replied with

I trained them from a very early age.;)

I think that’s the key. I have been taking both kids to parks by myself since William was born. It is something we all enjoy and although it is a lot of effort it is so worth it. It breaks up the day nicely, the fresh air and exercise do us all good, it helps the kids feel loved and, let’s face it, it gets us out of the house… All good for telling depression to go shove it.

If going to the park on your own just isn’t for you and you want to team up with a friend that’s great for you. It’s my personal experience though that looking after my own two kids on my own is easier than looking after my own two plus two extras while a friend tries to chat. When William outgrows the bark-and-rubbish-hoovering stage I will be up for more relaxed play dates at the park but for now park trips remain a mission. They’re a fun adventure but a mission nonetheless.

Here are my ten tips for surviving and even enjoying trips to the park with 2 under 3.

1) Make sure the kids know before you leave the house that running off is not an option. My kids know that if they run away from me in a public place that they will get in big trouble and we will go straight home… Where they will get in trouble again. We have the same rule at the shops so Alexis is almost always very well behaved these days. Well she can throw a tantrum for sure but she does what I ask while she is screaming. 😉

2) have defined limits. Of course playing chasey is fun so now the kids are a little older I do allow the children to run but they cannot run away past a certain point in each direction. For example in our local park they have to stay on the crushed bark area. When we arrive at a new park I sometimes walk the boundary with them. They can only run once we get to the park, not on the way there. When Alexis was younger she could not handle this so we had a blanket “no running” but I relaxed the rules once I saw a greater sense of obedience and understanding in her as a whole. William, being the second child and frequently clutching at my legs, has caught on very quickly.

3) make sure your kids understand the basics of car/road/carpark safety. This is best built up over time, you can’t really expect a child to learn it in one go. Alexis knows she must always hold my hand if crossing a road and even if near a road. We walk along the footpath to the park so regularly that she doesn’t need to hold my hand anymore but if she hears a car or I call her name she comes straight back to me and grabs my hand. She knows full well that she walks between me and the houses, not between me and the road.

4) know your own limits. Start small. I am perfectly confident at our local park and some small parks in the neighbourhood. I would never take the kids by myself to somewhere very busy or large, such as Southbank.

5) NEVER TAKE YOUR EYES OFF THEM. This is the most important thing. Trips to the park for us are not a way for me to let the kids entertain themselves while I play on my phone or study. They are far too young for that. If you do want to meet for playgroup or a chat with a friend or whatever, it’s wise to pick a park with a reliable fence and glance over regularly.. I find it extremely difficult to maintain a conversation while at a park so if something is important I make the most out of the swings. At least William is trapped then.

6) very closely related to number 5, is PLAY WITH YOUR KIDS. Why should children have all the fun? I don’t view outings to the park as a chore or just for them, I get in there, get dirty and play with my kids. This is the way I want them to remember me as a mum. This is why I’m less likely to enjoy meeting a friend at a park, “so the kids can play while we chat.” The main reason I take the kids to the park is to give them some quality time away from the distractions of home.

7) Be creative. If there’s only one swing available the kids take turns “helping” me push the other child on the swing. Singing a song or two makes anything fun. I even do some stretches while I’m pushing the kids on the swings (if there’s two). The kids think it’s hilarious and it helps me feel good.

8) Relax. I learned long ago that William will eat dirt and Alexis will scrape part of her body on something. I still aim not to let William eat dirt and try to stop Alexis from falling or banging into something but it’s not the end of the world if they do. Oh and they will get dirty but that’s why the good Lord created the people who invented washing machines and showers.

9) Choose wisely. I love going during school hours when we are more likely to have the park to ourselves. I prefer smaller parks for the same reason. On weekends or after school we still visit the park occasionally but I pre-warn Alexis that if there are boisterous, rowdy, rude or obnoxious teenagers there we will not be staying long. As disappointing as it is to leave early, I don’t want her exposed to the vulgarity and profanity of the local mob more than I have to.

10) Always have a reason to come home. Morning tea or afternoon tea anyone? A few months ago I had to bribe her with coming home to watch a favourite TV show while I cooked dinner. Whatever works right?

Situations change so quickly as the kids grow and develop so quickly. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed but it’s important to try to find a groove that works for you. If something is fun one time, do it again. If it’s painful, see if there’s something you can change to make it better next time. If you really just don’t like it, hey that’s ok, I’m sure you find other ways to give your kids stimulation and attention. This is what works for me though and I’m thankful I’ve found our groove.

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Do you take your kids to the park? How do you get to have conversations with other mummies?

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