activities. extra-curriculars. play dates. field trips. parents do a lot to expand their kids social lives and to give them enriching activities to fill up their time outside of school. being a homeschooler, our entire existence pretty much falls into this category. that’s all we do is “extra-curriculars”. it’s up to me to fill up our time and not get bored and not wreck the house and i have to say that when it comes to non-wrecking-house activities, you simply can’t beat the park.
it’s free. this is the first thing and one of the largest benefits. i mean, you could literally bankrupt yourself in weeks flat taking your kids to indoor play spaces and signing them up for clubs and lessons. but, besides taxes of course, the park is FREE, as in, no cost. so when weighing the costs and benefits, you’re guaranteed to tip the scales against something that’s FREE. me, being a tight wad anyways and rejecting all things consumerist, the park is the perfect price.
i’m finding that more and more places “for kids” are becoming less kid centric and more parent centric. what i mean by this is that even in places deemed “for kids” adults are making the rules. kids activities are becoming so structured with rules and subtle pressures from nearby parents that it’s impossible for kids to really let loose and have a good time. what kids really want to do while they’re playing is get dirty, be rowdy and loud, and use equipment and anything nearby in any way they can that’s NOT the way it’s usually intended to be used. think lord of the flies stuff, here. at the park, it’s nice to be courteous of other kids and take turns and not hit and all that stuff, but otherwise, and if you go like i do during the week (hehehe, sneaky, sneaky) then you can feel free pretty much giving the kids free reign of the place to do as they will. climb up the monkey bars and screech like a howler monkey, take off their shoes and wade into muck up to mid calf, or wash their hair with wood chip shampoo, whatever. move over, chucky cheeses, because the park is really where a kid can be a kid.
we can eat any time and any place we want. we don’t have to lug our picnic bag to the designated picnic area. we can just plop our blanket down and chow down wherever. or just snack right out of the bag on the go. and with no snack area, my kids are not tempted by overpriced and under nutritious foods, so they have no choice but to eat the food that i brought (mwahahaha, more evil laughter).
there are all different types of people that come and go. going during the week does cut down on the traffic, but there are still a number of people that we usually run into. a lot of grandparents watching grandchildren and younger kids too young for school yet. but still, i am usually never at a loss for people to make conversation with and the kids likewise usually find some other kids to play with or observe.
it’s big and we can move around. there are trees, fields, pavement and parks. so you can take your pick. one park i frequent has four different play structure areas and a track that goes all the way around it so sometimes i bring the kids scooters and we just travel from one play structure to the next until our tour is complete. and, being homeschoolers, we are just simply in no hurry to get anywhere fast except home to make dinner at around 4 or so, which is just fine because that’s around the time when the school kids start showing up.
if it’s a nice day, i will literally just pack the car and stay the whole damn day. why not? one last perk: while we’re out of the house, no one is home making messes for me to clean up later (except the dog and cat but they usually sleep all day, i think while we’re gone, taking advantage of the rare quiet).
the park. vastly under rated in my book.