Our family spends a lot of time at our neighbourhood park. And I mean a lot. We are there once, usually twice a day. Sometimes the only reason we leave the park is because I need a break from all the activity and fresh air. The kids would be happy to never leave!
Ottawa has some great city parks. Some of them have pools and splash pads, which are perfect for this warm weather (and look for pools to be opening in the next week!). Some parks are best for toddlers and some have great climbing structures for older kids.
What I love best about spending time at our park is that it is free, we meet some great kids and parents and it is about as free-range as my two and four year old kids can get living in the city. When they are playing with their friends they feel like they are off on their own, but I am still there to keep an eye on them.
Here are some of my tips for making the most of summer at the park:
- Bring lots of water: on hot days my kids get so thirsty running around and they end up drinking a lot of water. Some parks have water fountains but it is good to pack extra just in case.
- Pack snacks to share: Nothing tastes as good as other kids' snacks. My four year old is a snack scammer and wants to try everyone else's snacks but her own. But that is okay, because we end up sharing all of our snacks too.
- Watch out for the sun: I have a hard time keeping hats on my kids' heads. They always get thrown off eventually and, a couple of times when it was really hot, I had to take them off myself because the kids were overheating. I try to combine hats with some sunscreen and encouraging the kids to play in the shade when possible. I am also planning to get some long sleeve swim shirts once the pool opens.
- Go over the rules of the park: At the start of park season every year I go over the rules with the kids. Rules for us include always being able to see each other at the park, not talking to strangers and not going to the bathroom without a parent. As the kids get older the rules are getting more detailed (I can't wait for the day when no hitting doesn't have to be included as a rule anymore) and I am talking to them more about strangers.
- Become a regular: One of the reasons that our park means so much to me is because of the people. I have met a lot of great parents at the park and consider a lot of them to be my friends. Part of the reason for this is that we are regulars. We visit the park at the same time every day, the same days every week. Because of this we see the same people and get to know them. I also try to talk to anyone that comes within five feet of me! I remember what it was like not to have a lot of adult conversation in a day and so I always try to connect with other parents I meet.
Do you have any tips for making the most of summer at the park?