• Mon, Mar 24 - 11:00 am ET

7 Things I Hate About The Playground

shutterstock_173769362With springtime rapidly approaching, many of us will undoubtedly find ourselves at the childhood mecca known as the playground. As delightful as it is for the kiddos, many moms will inevitably leave stressed and exhausted. Recently, I made my own list as to why that may be. So for all of us that often leave with the need for a drink (or ten), I present seven things I hate about the playground:

Playground Equipment


My least favorite apparatuses are the ones that are high up. Oh, and have hard surfaces.  Which basically means I hate every one of them with the exception of the swings. I love the swings as I am in total control of the situation. Steps scare me as well. I am one of those neurotic moms that shadow her kids until they are about ten years old. I can’t help it; I have seen kids get really hurt running too fast and then falling. I prefer safer places to play. I frequently take my kids to a little botanical garden near my home and let them frolic. I love the garden. A beautiful and safe open space for the kids to run around in. We often have picnics there as well. The only problem that I face is my kids eventually get a little bored and ask to go to the playground. They want the fun stuff. I just tell them that the playground is closed for the holidays and won’t open until next year. A harmless lie never hurt anybody. However, they are four and two years old and have already figured out that their mom is completely full of it. So, it is off to the playground we go.

 Restrooms

I will freely admit that as I have gotten older, I have definitely become more germ phobic. To be honest, I don’t really like using the restroom anywhere but in the own comfort of my home. I am not sure how and when this developed, but it did. As a child, I was one of those kids that could hold it in all day long. Thinking back, it wasn’t the healthiest thing to do, but it kept me out of public restrooms altogether. Park restrooms are notoriously gross in my neck of the woods. The whole avoiding of the restroom business becomes almost impossible during potty training. When my daughter was in the midst of her training, I was conflicted on whether I should avoid the playground altogether. Instead, I frequently gave her a pull- up to wear, which just prolonged the process. Now she is fully trained, so I need not worry. Until it is time to train my son. When it is his turn, I plan to point him to the nearest tree. Boys are easier that way.

 

 Mommy Cliques

There is just something so intimidating about seeing a bunch of women in a pack. It is a rarity to see these women by themselves; they are almost always together. It definitely brings me back to my high school days. Every time I see them my blood pressure shoots up a bit. In reality, most of these women are probably very nice, but I am way too shy. And insecure. So, I generally keep to myself or occasionally meet up with another mommy friend. I am often too busy chasing my kids on the scary apparatuses to make small talk anyways.

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  • Robotic Socks

    Playgrounds would be better if they stop letting in kids!

    • Valerie

      Totes. I hate it when some 8-year old is on the funnest swing and I have to wait.

    • Shannon

      And allowed alcohol.

  • Ella

    I hear you on so many of these! Especially the restroom part. Ick. And sadly, my “spirited” 4 year old son has been “that kid” before. :( Talk about being too afraid to try to make mommy friends at the park when your boy is hogging the slide! The diff with me is that I do watch my kid. Like a hawk. Mostly because I am worried that he will be asserting his independence and newfound control on some sweet little girl but also because he is a LUNATIC and climbs on the stuff designed for 10 year olds. I get looks from people, like I am hovering too much. But the alternative is not any better. Anyway, if you see a seemingly-helicopter mom hovering over her 4 year old boy at the park, don’t judge. She might just be keeping her kid from ruining your day at the park! Happy spring!

    • Kathleen Sullivan

      I hear you on watching the kids! People have accused me of being overprotective, but I don’t care. My sweet little girl was “that kid” at times. When we first started at the park, she would try and hit or push other kids. I think it was too much stimulation and she was overwhelmed. Difference was, I was constantly over her watching, making sure she wasn’t seriously hurting anyone!

    • Natasha B

      Oh, we have twins. Can we get together and just let them wreak playground havoc together while we sip wine out of water bottles and ignore the angry side eyes???
      The 4yo has gotten better at not hogging the slide and such, but his daredevil-ness knows no bounds.

    • Ella

      Love it! Yes – l’m all in! :)

  • Linzon

    Playgrounds in my city just don’t have bathrooms, so if we’re planning on going to the playground I can’t have coffee that morning.

    • Valerie

      The playground without a coffee is like….a day without sunshine!

    • Linzon

      I do hit up the drive-thru on the way home :)

    • Kathleen Sullivan

      Yes, I am constantly dehydrated at the park!

    • Valerie

      And our local parks do have restrooms, which is great. They actually keep them clean, too. Yeah for ridiculous NY state taxes!

    • Linzon

      Our municipal taxes keep going up but I’m honestly not sure what the city is doing with them besides plowing our street when there’s not actually any snow on it.

    • Lilly

      Mine don’t either so I basically choose playgrounds/parks based on their location in relation to decent coffee shops. I suspect I am not the only one as there are a few coffee shops that have popped up across the street from busy playgrounds.

  • Bethany Ramos

    Park restrooms are all that is wrong with the world. I also have a hugely unnatural fear of port-a-potties and dropping a baby in one. Ack.

    • Valerie

      So my daughter did her first summer at daycamp last year (in lieu of daycare). They were primarily outside and so they used porta-potties a lot. I had to just block out the thought of her carelessly letting her underwear and shorts drop all the way to the ground getting covered in potty germs while she did her business and then doing an inadequate handwash at the outdoor sink. And then eating her lunch. YUCK.
      But on the other hand, knock on wood, she literally has not been sick since last May. So maybe the potty germs immunized her somehow?

    • radicalhw

      Someone call the National Institutes of Health! I smell (pun intended) a new research study!

    • Bethany Ramos

      Nooooooooooo!

    • Iwill Findu

      You know I don’t get the whole fear the port-a-potties, I grew up with the old school outhouses at the beach/parks. Those are even worse.

  • Guest

    I feel like everyone loses their kid at some point..and I mean like not finding them in thirty seconds. I got lost at a family reunion and they found me at the park on a merry-go-round. My brother got lost in Sears. They searched the whole store before finding him in the lady’s room. He also got lost at the State Fair. That scarred my parents so badly that they have NEVER been back. I finally got to go myself as an adult and I can see why losing a kid there would mess you up.

    • SunnyD847

      Shortly after my parents’ divorce my dad lost me in a Tijuana marketplace. I was having the time of my life getting fed ice cream and candy by the policia while my dad lost a couple of years off his life. Basically, he figures if he didn’t find me he’d never be able to return to the US.

  • SA

    The bathroom at the park is SO FAR AWAY from the playground. I hit it up right before and pray I don’t have to go again. By the time you hike back to it, you might as well just pack up and go. This is what is freaking me out about potty training right now, kid may have to wear diapers at the playground until she is ten.

    I hate small talk too. And that is what the playground is…small talking with strangers.

    On “that kid”….I am the one that doesn’t have a problem being like “Dude, your turn is over, it is my kids turn now”. I just have the freaky toddler that wants to touch your baby and steal your kids shoes. She literally tried to yank some pretty pink shoes off another girl her age…screaming “MY SHOES, MY SHOES”. The mom stared in horror as I drug her away.

    • Natasha B

      Hehehe! The girl likes shoes, what’s the prob with that???

  • LiteBrite

    “Those Thirty Seconds When You Can’t Find Your Kid”

    Oh my God. I know.

    During the summer I take my son some of the festivals near the lakefront. One of the festivals that we especially like is Irish Fest. So one fine Irish Fest day, when the boy was about 4, I let him burn off some energy by taking him to the ginormous playground they have on the grounds. One minute he was on the jungle gym and the next minute he was….gone. Okay fine, I check the other equipment. I mean, he probably ran off to the swings or something, right?

    Wrong. He wasn’t anywhere. He was GONE. It must’ve been several minutes that I looked for him, but it felt like hours. Imagine 50 million kids in green running around you can understand the chaos. Plus, the playground is wide open to other areas of the park, so yeah, I was freaking out. I went over to my two friends, shaking. “I can’t find my kid.” They immediately stepped in, and yes, we did find him, at which point, I said “No more playground,” and steered him towards the the damn leprechaun area.

    Last year I got wise and tied a red bandana around my son’s head so I could at least find him in the sea of green. He hated it, but oh well.

    • Valerie

      Ugghhh that is the worst feeling ever. Glad he was ok!

    • jane

      I “lost” my kid at the totally fantastically awesome rope playground at Universal Studios in the Jurassic Park section. Seriously, that playground is ballin’ Worth the price of admission. Anyway, my 6 year old agreed with my assessment that the place was awesome, and would. not. slow. down for me to attempt to keep up with him. And it was HUGE, so it wasn’t a matter of simply scanning around to see if I could find him; there were probably about 100 areas that couldn’t be seen from any given point. So yeah, vanished. For at least 5 minutes. I was extremely happy to see him when he returned.

  • rrlo

    That’s why I usually like going to the playground with my husband. That way we can take turn zoning out. Zoning out is the best.

  • EX

    I love the playground and I, for one, cannot wait for the snow to melt so I can finally take my active kid to the only place where she can wear herself out. I am so over having to dress her up like we’re going on an arctic expedition only to have her jump in icy mud puddles, get soaking wet, complain of being cold and then want to come inside after 5 minutes. The park is where it’s at. Dirty bathrooms, unsafe playground equipment and unsupervised kids be damned – I want to go to the park! I want spring!

  • Williwaw

    I agree that public bathrooms can be gross, but keep in mind that most of them do get cleaned on some regular schedule, so their surfaces may be cleaner than other public surfaces. I read a webmd article that said that bank machine keys, picnic tables, and monkey bars have way more germs than a PortaPottie, because even a fairly nasty PortaPotty is cleaned regularly, and I recall doing some bacteria-growing experiment in high school that produced similar results.

    Also, a woman I know makes such a big deal about germs that her eight year-old daughter refuses to use any kind of public washroom, no matter how clean it looks.

  • AugustW

    Those 30 seconds made me briefly consider a GPS tracking devic

  • Natasha B

    I’m kind of the opposite. There are several parks within walking/biking distance, and it can’t wait until the snow melts and I can run, run, run my spawn until they are exhausted. We generally can make it through a trip without a potty break if they go right before, because I’m totally with you there, porta potties are the grossest of gross.
    The only way we have made it through this ridiculous winter is because some GENIUS woman opened an indoor playground. It’s amazing. And clean.

  • Ro

    “Those Thirty Seconds When You Can’t Find Your Kid” are probably when someone else is picking him/her up off the ground wondering who the hell isn’t watching their kid!

    Just kidding, I was at playgroup recently and there was a little girl who walked up to my daughter (three years old) who was sitting on one of those Ikea rocking thingys. She didn’t even hesitate, just grabbed my daughter and tried to haul her off. When that didn’t immediately work she started to head butt my daughter. I mostly let my daughter sort out these battles, but she looked terrified so I gave her a nod of encouragement, told her it’s ok and told the other girl to be gently while giving her a hard stare.

    I saw that little girl being aggressive to many kids, but never could figure out who she was with.

  • aCongaLine

    My 2.5 year old spent about 3 hours crying last night, begging to go to the playground down the street. It’s 17 degrees out, and there is 12 inches of snow all over everything. Nevermind that it was dark out.

    Nope. Nope. Nope. Sorry, kiddo.

  • Grace

    I have a daughter who is small for her age. At 26 months, she weighs just about twenty lbs. She’s also very agile and can climb like a monkey, but will not jump off of things with wild abandon. I know her abilities and her limitations. The absolute bane of my existence is people who see her taking off across the (enclosed) playground or clambering up things and the judgers start whispering “where’s mom?” And “why is that one by itself?” Just because you don’t hover does NOT make you a bad mother…or father…or grandparent.

  • C.J.

    We didn’t have a decent playground near by when the kids were smaller so I built one in the back yard. It was the best thing I ever did. We got to use our own bathroom, only invite kids we liked and I could sit and have a coffee or a drink with a mom I liked.

  • SunnyD847

    I can’t stand in when someone enters or leaves a fenced playground and doesn’t shut the fu**ing gate behind them.! WTF?

  • gothicgaelicgirl

    My good friend actually put up on Facebook, her young lad aged 4 has severe cuts to his little hands, some junkie scumbag glued razor blades onto the climbing frame, just out of sight, and on the underside of the slide ladder too.
    She has to go get her young lad checked now all because some sicko thought it’d be funny to randomly scatter razors in a playground!