Mom Confessions: 5 Common Playground Gripes

swing
Image via Mindi Stavish

Ask any mom within your inner circle what drives her crazy when her children are at the playground, and she will probably give you several answers. Love it or hate it, the playground brings up many feelings among moms and dads with small children. In fact, the playground seems to be such a hot topic that my crowdsourcing post on Facebook generated over 40 replies. Can you relate to any of these?

playground slide
Image via Ebick Pizzadili

The Slide

The piece of playground equipment that seemed to get the most attention was the slide. Are you for or against children walking up the slide? The majority of the moms that responded were absolutely against kids walking up the slide. Others, such as an Occupational Therapist, felt that there was nothing wrong with it, especially since it is a heavy work activity.

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Image via Jacylann Nix

The Swings

Swings are probably the piece of playground equipment that are sought after by kids of all ages. Most parents agreed that it's aggravating when a child is using a swing for an extended amount of time and their parent is not doing anything about it.

Lisa Johnson, mom of three, shared her thoughts on this:

“It's upsetting when parents have toddlers and babies, but do not share the baby sized swings. I've seen parents keep taking turns with their own baby and toddler, instead of putting the toddler in a big kid swing.”

Jill Berry shared her experience with the swings:

“When people put a dog in a baby swing. Ewww. There are not enough wipes to wipe down a baby swing that a dog has sat in.”

child walking up the slide
Image via Rachel Borman

Helicopter Parenting

Dan Anderson noted, “It's funny – I don't like helicopter parents at the playground, I think it's good for kids to get to run around. On the other hand, I don't like when parents don't know what their kids are doing and let them bully, go up the slide, throw stuff, hog stuff, or otherwise be a terror. In other words, give the kids space to play, but keep an eye and be responsible and call your kid out for bad behavior.”

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Rachel Borman shared her thoughts, “It drives me nuts when other parents hover over my kid or give me stink eye when my kid is doing something she's perfectly able to do. I'm not lazy. I just know her better than a stranger does.”

Lisa Johnson agrees, “Kids should be allowed to run, play, and explore the park without other moms constantly saying stuff like ‘You probably shouldn't let your son walk on the beams' or ‘I'd never let my son throw rocks into the pond. What if he falls in?' Let me watch my own kid and you worry about yours. I'll keep my kids safe, trust me on that one.”

Angela Middleton had this to say on helicopter parenting:

“I hate when other people try to tell me what I should and shouldn't allow my child to do, say or how to act. We try to go to the playground with like minded people or when I know it's not super busy. My child has mental/behavioral disorders and most people mistake how he is for who they think he should be and act.”.

playground time
Image via Heather Julian

The Disengaged Parent vs the Interested Parent

When I'm at the playground I like to observe what other parents are doing. I'll agree, I get bored at the playground. Now that all three of my boys can navigate the structures pretty well, there isn't much more for me to do for the most part. If I don't have another mom friend at the playground, I will browse my phone or get some knitting done. I believe that my kids need a chance to explore on their own and learn how to play with others independently. Here is what other parents feel about their level of engagement on the playground.

Heather Julian, mom of 2 said:

“As I sit here and write to you, I'm snapping photos of my kids and sharing them. A park pet peeve of mine is parents who forget to be in the moment with their kids. They are on social media, working or whatever and missing their kids' enjoyment. Sure, kids are having fun, but kids remember these things. For me it's, be present. I'm going to go enjoy my children now.”

Mandee Quinn has the exact oppositive view:

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“Sometimes I sit on my phone at the park because it's the one moment of the day I have to myself. Sometimes I follow Ronin around like a ‘helicopter parent' (this term is ridiculous) because he wants me to play with him. Who cares? If it doesn't have an effect on you and your children, why does anyone care what others do with THEIR children? I bring Ronin to the park so he can play with other kids and gain a little independence. If he asks me to play with him while we're there, I absolutely will. Otherwise, I'm talking to friends or on my phone. I don't see anything wrong with that.”

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Image via Angela Middleton

Safety

One common thread all parents agreed on is safety.

Sarah Case asked her husband and he noted that he really hates finding loose screws, rust, wobbly legs, and other safety hazards with the playground equipment. He also gets upset when older kids are aggressive and make it hard for little ones to play, too.

Christina Marie Folkes said, “Pretty much the only thing that annoys me is when my kid tries to climb up the slide, pushes/hits another kid, or climbs too high while playing and wants help getting down.”

Jennifer Williams shared the same views, “The only thing that bothers me are inconsiderate kids that are old enough to know better. If you are bullying or pushing, or being otherwise unsafe that is not okay.”

What are your playground gripes? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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Mom Confessions: 5 Common Playground Gripes

Mindi is a working mom with three boys ages 4, 2, and an infant (born June 2013). She spent her first 8 years of her career in Speech-Language Pathology at a Children's Hospital. She currently works with adults and children in home health. The real fun for her happens when she is at home with her boys, chasing them around and pretending to be a super hero. She blogs about life as a working mom at Simply Stavish. Her weekly feature, Words in the Sand, teaches parents how to grow their child's s ... More

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