9 Rules Moms Should Follow at the Playground


playgroundThe playground has rules -- general ones like park closes at dusk, no smoking, no loud music, and please no junkies leaving behind dirty needles. I made that last one up but that really should be a rule, don't you think? Along with if you are going to bring coffee for yourself, make sure you have enough for all the other moms and dads at the park, too. How great would that one be? (Psst. I like mine with milk and sugar.)

But there are some unspoken guidelines that some are mindful of and some aren't. These are rules I wish all the moms and dads and caretakers who go to the park with kids follow.

  1. Please close the gate when you enter and leave. I get that sometimes we forget, but just like you shut your door and lock it when you leave the house, please close the dang gate. The parks near me are next to very busy streets, and no one wants to hear screeching of tires if the unthinkable happens. Yes, I'm watching my kids as they run around, but you know how fast accidents can happen -- the gate should be securely closed, pretty please.
  2. Don't feed the children. Unless they are yours and you cleared the food with the parent. And unless you want to deal with the horrible consequences that come with a child with food allergies eating something they shouldn't be eating. And unless you want to be that mom that spoils dinner. No one wants to be that mom.
  3. Don't leave food out on your stroller tray and expect other kids not to eat it. For some reason, kids are drawn to other people's food more than their own much to the dismay of everyone. So if you prepared a deliciously healthy sandwich for your child to eat, leaving it out may mean your kid will never end up eating it. For example, I learned the hard way that my child loves seaweed chips. But only if they are someone else's seaweed chips.
  4. Play nice with other moms, dads, and caretakers. Yes, our kids should play nice, but there is no reason we can't be cool to each other either too, right? No, we don't have to be BFFs just because we happen to be at the park with our kids at the same time (though it would be nice to make friends wink, wink), but we should be able to maybe smile, nod hello, or even share some small talk (mood willing).
  5. Don't expect the other parents to watch your child while you are on your cellphone. I have my eye on my kids, and yes I am paying attention to the other kids too, and if something bad happens to one of them, I'll help out, but I can't be responsible for your child -- unless you want to bring me some coffee.
  6. Clean up after yourself. If you or your child spills food that can be easily picked up by other kids and eaten, it would be super awesome if you picked it up instead so the other kids don't come by and eat the food that is mixed in with the dirt around it. This also goes for those squeeze packets I see lying around with dirt and germs all over the sippy part. My daughter finds those particularly delicious, but is now learning how to be the park "maid" and throws things away. Which I guess is good.
  7. Don't judge other parents by just what you see at the playground. The time you see a mom at the park is just a small snapshot of her life. You don't know how stressed she is, what went on earlier in the day, whatever behind-the-scenes things she may have going on. So if she does seem odd one day, don't be quick to judge her for that. I think deep down we all know when we should worry about someone's behavior and when we shouldn't make assumptions.
  8. Never discipline another person's child. Kids can be little brats. They can. Even mine. Sadly. Still, it's never okay to scold another person's kid. Talk to the parent if you feel it's necessary.
  9. Yelling is prohibited. Okay, sometimes you have to yell -- like when the gate is left open and you see your child running really fast for the street or your peanut allergic kid is about to eat those peanuts belonging to another kid, but yell, YELL, YELLING is such a buzzkill for all the park-goers. I feel like it sends everyone into a frenzy. Let's try to keep it mellow and have a sunshine-y day.

Okay, no one is the picture of perfection, and I know things happen and all these rules are sometimes broken without meaning any harm. But LISTEN TO ME! WE NEED TO FOLLOW THEM. Yes, I was yelling. I'm such a rulebreaker. But I have coffee for you, so I hope we're cool now.

What would you add to the list?


Image via BFS Man/Flickr

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RanaA... RanaAurora

I broke #8 one time and don't apologize for it for a second. The mom was breaking #5 (not watching her kid) and he kept trying to push MY kid off the tallest part of the playground. They were both little toddlers, and it was a long fall. So the third time, when I had to CATCH my son, I DID yell, "WE DO NOT PUSH." His mom FINALLY paid attention and came and dealt with it. But I'm not sorry for that! Some parents take the "let them work it out themselves" too far, or would lash out if you said, "Your child won't stop throwing sand. Do something about it," LOL.

But in general, I'm totally with you here!  People disciplining other peoples' kids would become a non-issue if parents would just watch their own children. :)

LKRachel LKRachel

Question(and I truly would like people to weigh in-this happened to a friend of mine) what if another child is doing something like.....hitting your child, for example, but the other parent is nowhere to be found? Seriously nowhere. She intervened, as I think she should have, but what is the 'right' move there? According to this post you shouldn't step in?

doll0302 doll0302

LK - I would step in. I would ask the child to stop, and remove my child. if the parent then showed up, I would let them know what their child did. 

nonmember avatar Katie

1. STAY WITH YOUR CHILD at the park. It is NOT a drop-in care center.

2. Sure, kids should work things out for themselves, but if your kid is a bully, step in!


LK- I learned this from a mommy friend and it works great- if there is a child being mean, physical, etc if their mom doesn't intervene for whatever reason I say " I bet your mommy wouldn't want you to hit your friends"'or " I bet your mom wouldn't want you to throw sand"-- it kinda gets the mom's attention and generally stops the offending behavior.

Cafe... Cafe MicheleZ

Yes, there are exceptions of course. And this is meant to be general and lighthearted, too. Like I said, get me a coffee and anything goes. I kid! But you know what I mean.


toria... toriandgrace

I agree with them all except the discipling other children. Of your kid is hurting my kid, I'm stepping in.

pflip pflip

I don't agree with #3. Teach your kids not to eat food that is randomly laying around. If it's not in YOUR bag or stroller, don't. touch. it.

I also don't agree with disciplining someone else's child. I find that if another child is misbehaving towards my child that saying "I think you need to find your mommy or daddy" works really well towards stopping the behavior. That's not disciplining. There's a big difference.

Momma... MommaGreenhalge

I got another one:  If my four year old keeps wanting me to catch him and I say he needs to do it himself, don't turn around and catch him.  I am his parent and I am watching him.  I know what he's capable of jumping off of, and I do not want to deny him the joy and independance of him jumping off the three foot rock he just climbed.  Don't baby my kids.

MrsNe... MrsNewman

I have never been to a park with a gate. odd. 

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