I have a confession to make: I am picky. Not about everything, but there are some things that I simply need to work for our family, and I won’t stop until I’ve found what will work best. This is the case with finding a playground that Elvie will enjoy, but that I like, too. Obviously, we are not going to the playground so I can play, but I think that, as with many things, where I take my toddler to have fun doesn’t have to be completely void of anything enjoyable for me. If I really don’t like going, chances are we won’t go as often, or if we do go, we won’t end up staying long.
What I was looking for in a playground wasn’t any big mystery, but it took us awhile to find one that truly worked for both Elvie and me, not to mention her big sister. The funny thing is that I never would have thought the playground that has emerged as a clear favorite for all of us would be the playground. But when I think of what I really like about it, it all makes sense. Here is my list of what I was looking for in a playground, along with photos of Elvie having a ball at our favorite one.
Finding Our Favorite Playground
I may be picky, but we still found “the one.”
Easy for Elvie to Navigate
Many playgrounds are simply so large that Elvie will see something she wants to do, but she can’t figure out how to get there. Our favorite playground is small – even smaller than I imagined would be good for her.
Easy for Me to Supervise
I love it when a playground is mostly fenced in, and it’s fantastic when there are plenty of places that Elvie will enjoy that are easy for me to see and to get to if she needs me. While I will offer her help if she needs it or run to comfort her if she gets hurt, I like to let her explore a little on her own, without me hovering over her and impeding her exploring progress.
Near a Coffee Shop
This serves multiple purposes, not just my need for a delicious beverage to sip while the kids play. A good coffee shop will not only serve up the joe, but there will be snacks for the kids if we stay out longer than anticipated, as well as a bathroom that is nearly always cleaner than the ones at most parks.
Has a Safe Spot to Stow Our Stuff
We’ve always got a ton of stuff with us, especially if we get snacks beforehand. I like to have a good spot to keep our stuff so I don’t have to lug it all over the playground with me, where I know it will be safe and also easily accessible.
Kids of All Ages
Because there’s a wide age gap between my girls, it works best if the children who tend to frequent the playground are a wide variety of ages. Then someone is always coming along that can be played with, even if the friends we have just made have to go. Elvie loves seeing babies and toddlers, but she also adores older kids. I’ve found that she’s happiest when there are some of each with her on the playground.
Most kids love to play in the sand, and Elvie is no exception; however, she loves to eat it, and I want her to do more than just try to sneak handfuls of sand into her mouth. If we go to a park that does not have sand, she’s a lot more likely to play than to try to get herself what she considers to be a tasty treat.
Soft Surfaces in Case of Falls
While I do love a good old school playground with old fashioned equipment, Elvie is a daredevil, and it’s more important to me to keep her from visiting the ER than it is for there to be the kind of stuff that parks had when I was a kid. I love the spongy surfaces they use now; I know that my little risk taker will be safer while taking her risks.