Trust me, it’s a real thing and no one seems to know about it. It’s like a list of silent rules to abide by in order to not make other moms and dads despise you (and your child) on the playground. With warm weather becoming more steady, and playgrounds being a great way to socialize and wear out your stir-crazy toddler, I figured it couldn’t hurt to share the (unspoken) playground rules.
- It’s a jungle gym, not a babysitter. I know “gym” sounds like “Jim” and it can be confusing for some, but I assure you “gym” won’t take very good care of your child. Under no circumstance is it okay to leave your child, no matter the age, at the playground. Please do not try to give me your phone number and ask me to text or call you if there is an emergency. I don’t know you. You don’t know me. See Rule #4.
- Don’t let your kid be a punk. I know, I know, name calling isn’t nice and I would never tell your kid he’s a punk to his face, but I would have no problem letting you know. If your kid pushes, hits, kicks, spits on or throws a handful of mulch at my kid, the playground drama will be redirected between you and I. I mean seriously, its a park. It’s full of fun things, let’s keep it fun.
- Stay off your phone. This is my biggest pet peeve and I’m sure everyone else would agree. Pay attention to your child, and not whatever time consuming electronic you brought with you to the park. This kind of goes hand in hand with Rule #1 and #4. Multiple times I have seen parents show up to the park, release their children and find a shady bench under a tree and sit down and scroll through what I’m assuming is Facebook. It only takes a second for your kid to put themselves in a potentially dangerous situation and I’m sure your Facebook feed isn’t nearly as important as the safety of your child. I can’t make this up… 2015 Mom of the Year shows up to the park with her 3 kids. Kids run to the play area, mom sits on a picnic table in the shade 100+ yards away and digs out her phone and throws on some headphones. I’m paying attention to my child and chit chatting with the other parents whose child is playing nicely with mine. Fast forward 10 minutes… Mom of the Year hastily runs over in a panic to me and another mom, and asks if we have seen her son and how she doesn’t know “how this happened” and that she was “checking her email and listening to Spotify”. Turns out this kid is severely non-verbal autistic and he wandered over 400 yards from the play ground and was on the walking path through the wooded area by himself. SEVERELY NON-VERBAL AUTISTIC CHILD. FOUR HUNDRED YARDS AWAY… on a WALKING PATH THROUGH THE WOODS all because his mother wanted to sit in the shade and rock out to the Biebs. What irks me even more is when I hear a kid yell “Mom look at this!” and the poor kid gets an “uh huh” while their mom scrolls through her phone not even glancing up. Come on lady, your kid is begging for your attention. Who cares if you’ve seen them go down the slide backward 99 times before, they obviously think the 100th time is just as cool and important as the first 99. The little moments go by in the blink of an eye, and the next thing you know the “Mom look at this” comment is when they’re handing you their college acceptance letter.
- Your child is not my responsibility. Attach this to Rules #1 and #3. If little Tommy wants to climb to the very top of the highest piece of playground equipment, I will most likely belt out a friendly “oh no don’t fall” and then proceed to tell my child that if he ever thinks that’s a good idea, to unthink it. If your child falls face first in a pile of mulch and you’re not paying attention, please DO NOT get an attitude with me because YOUR child fell while YOU weren’t paying attention. My child is my responsibility and your child is yours. It’s that simple. Maybe I should make it a habit to get non attentive mother’s cell phone numbers so when their child is in a situation where they will have splinters of mulch in their face, I can just shoot them a text to advise her.
- Unless your child is “5 or under”, they shouldn’t be in the “5 and under” area. This is pretty self-explanatory. If the sign says “5 and under” then keep it that way. Us toddler parents use it as a safe haven from the oblivious-to-others older kids who run around playing God knows what and trampling our toddlers. Yes, I will tell your child nicely to watch out for the little ones and that “this area is for smaller kids”. Why would I correct someone else’s child? Because clearly their parents haven’t told them.
It’s really not that hard. It’s very basic concepts but the lack of common sense when on the playground makes it miserable for everyone involved. My kid cries because your kid is being mean, your kid cries because you’re not paying attention, you’re crying because your child wandered away. It’s a playground, let’s keep it fun.