The Playground Stresses Me Out & It Shouldn't Have To

The Playground Stresses Me Out & It Shouldn't Have To

The playground is the wild west of stress, and one mom’s not taking it anymore.

By Kelly Bryant

I have a confession: Without fail, the playground stresses me out. It actually extends beyond the playground – it’s anywhere kids gather. No, it’s not because of the shrieking or chaos -- that I can handle (hello, I live with two little boys under the age of 6). It’s because inevitably there are a handful of parents or caregivers not paying attention to their children. This leaves other adults to either deal with the aftermath of unruly, unsupervised humans or get stuck with the dubious task of explaining why those under the watchful eyes of grownups have to wait their turn in line while others cut in front of them.

It’s not cool. And it gives me a case of the angries.

Now, look, I get that we take our kids to the park so they can burn off energy and so that we, as parents, can have a break from being the sole entertainer at home. You may need to make a call, you want to engage in conversation with other parents, you want to check out for a moment – it’s all understandable. But we can do that while making sure Jimmy and Sally aren’t snatching sand toys from other kids or planted defiantly in the middle of the twisty slide so that no other kid can scoot down.

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Case in point: During a recent family night at a local kids’ museum, I stood by as my 3-year-old delighted in a water play area with a bunch of other children. It was like the wild, wild west. Every kid wanted to fill his plastic bucket with water from the single faucet available, and two of them refused to wait in line, pushing past younger children repeatedly. It’s not my place to teach another person’s child right from wrong, but this was getting out of hand. Another exasperated parent took control and formed a very clear line, telling each kid when it was their turn, and instructing the line-cutters to move to the back. We looked at each other, rolled our eyes, and shrugged. Where were their parents?

I never found out. Mercifully, my son grew tired of the fight for the faucet, and we moved on to another area of the museum.


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Kids will be kids. They don’t immediately think to share or wait in line – they have to be taught to do the right thing. When I hear screams at the park, my head automatically spins to find out if it’s one of mine causing the problem (and, admittedly, sometimes it is, and I take care of it). If we could all just keep an eye on our littles with a nudge to be the good mini citizens we want them to be, it might just make this job of parenting a little easier on all of us.

Do you ever get stressed by the lack of parenting at the park?

Kelly Bryant is a freelance writer and pop culture junkie. She resides in Los Angeles with her husband and their two sons. Follow her on Twitter @MsKellyBryant.

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