It is starting to warm up here in the Northeast, and we are finally (FINALLY) heading into my beloved outdoor season! We have been cooped up for the majority of winter trying to avoid the dreaded stomach bugs and flu. Now it’s time to get outside and play! My kids love the playground, like all kids, and want to spend every single day at one. I’ve learned very quickly that managing more than one kid at the playground can be a challenge! I am by no means an expert, but I’m doing my best. Here are six tips for managing two kids (or more) at the playground.
1. Fence Them In
Whenever possible, opt to play at a playground that is fenced in. This way, at least you can ensure that your children will at least be corralled inside (as long as the entrance / exit is secured). The peace of mind knowing they can’t be harmed by any parking lots or nearby roads. Also, when they inevitably take off in opposite directions, you will have a general idea of how far they managed to go.
2. Dress Them Accordingly
When planning for a visit to your local (fenced in!) playground, spend a minute picking out an appropriate shirt. I like to put both of my kids in the same color – but if they don’t want to match, at least dress them in a bright color that will be easy to see at a distance. And, if nothing else, at least make a mental note of what your kids are wearing before you get to the playground!
3. Be Active With Them
Please note I am NOT suggesting to be a “helicopter mom” if that’s not your thing (it’s not mine). But what I am suggesting is to be active, on your feet, and involved in their playing. Even if that means just standing on the outskirts of the jungle gym watching, do what feels right for you. Kids are really quick, right? And if you aren’t actively on your feet walking (or running) around with them, they can take off within seconds. It’s much easier to keep an eye on each of your kids when you are up and moving around with them. Plus, my daughter is only 18 months old and still needs a lot of spotting to explore the play areas.
4. Put Away The Distractions
Young kids require a lot of our attention and energy. Going to the playground with them is no different. Along with #3 above, it’s important to put away the distractions. That means, please don’t spend your entire playground visit checking emails or Instagram on your phone. It’s important to be aware of what’s happening around you and your kids. Keep your phone in your back pocket! That way it’ll be within easy reach for any photo ops 🙂
5. Reason With Them / Bribe
As I mentioned, my daughter is only 18 months old so reasoning doesn’t really work with her yet. My 3.5 year old son though, does understand compromises (and of course, bribes). If I’m getting overwhelmed or tired with the chasing, I try to reason with my son to stay close by my daughter for the time being. If that doesn’t work, it’s typically time to pull out a “special” snack I packed and lure them into a picnic. (Pro-tip – get a packable picnic blanket, like this one, and always keep it in your car!)
6. When In Doubt, Corral Them Together
When all else fails, and I’m starting to lose it – but hopefully before that, I put both kids in the swings. In a perfect world, there are two open swings side by side that they will sit at for a few minutes. Since this isn’t always the case, I at least try to corral my younger child into the bucket swing while my son plays nearby. Again, this is related to #5 above. I do my best to reason with my son when I need his cooperation. Most of the time he is pretty understanding… most of the time 🙂
Do you have any tips for managing two or more children at the playground? Share them with other parents in the comments!