Parents: Is Taking Your Kids to the Park Outdated? Here's What I Think... by Mike Prochaska

Opinion Fun With Dad Kids
4 years ago

Parents: Is Taking Your Kids to the Park Outdated? Here's What I Think...

My goal this summer was to take my children to 100 different parks before they headed back to school. We currently are at park No. 80 and, sadly, school starts soon so don’t know if we're actually going to make it to 100.

This summer we went to a lot of parks. What made me sad was at some of them we were the only people there. The kids would ask me, "Where are all the other kids? Why are there no other kids at this park to play with?" Most of the time I was just as confused as them, wondering where everyone else was. Were they on vacation? Was everyone at camp? We didn’t know. And it felt like it depended on what suburb of Chicago we were in. Some suburban parks were busy, but at others no one was there, so my kids would then ask to leave.

What good is a playground if it sits empty all day? 

Playgrounds are about play, of course, but they are also about providing a space for neighbors to gather and socialize. So, I would just like to remind everyone when you have time, take your kids to the park. I am going to continue to write about all the amazing parks and outdoor adventures we went on in the hopes that all kids get the same chances. 

Do you take your kids to the park? Share your thoughts below. 

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Taylor Nicole
We lived in San Francisco the first 2 years of my sons life and basically any park, anywhere had other children, it was amazing. Cold, warm, drizzling, didn't matter, unless it was night time or a full on storm, there were kids at the park... and the best part, those kids wanted to play with my kid! I didn't realize how unique that was. Sadly, last year, we moved back to the suburbs of Phoenix when our 2nd child was born (child care cost was literally the only reason we left)... and now, we are usually the only kids at the park, or if other kids are there, they are not at all interested in playing. It seemed to me that in urban America, kids are frequently only children or there is a larger gap in age, so they go to the park to play with other kids... not to mention they go often due to smaller houses/apartments and little to no yard. BUT, suburban America on the other hand, taking your kids to the park is a family outing, its special and the kids are there to play with their parents or other kids that they pre-arranged to meet at the park. This was a hard lesson for me and my oldest child, a lot of very sad park days. We also had to re-learn park behaviour because in the city, the kids shared ALL of the sand toys and stuff, but not out here. Anyways, I hope parks make a comeback as a regular day activity and our society gets back to random socializing outside of pre-existing friends. But maybe that is just me.
Mike Prochaska
I noticed here it depends on what suburb park you goto if there are a lot of kids there here in Chicago. Because we did parks by suburb because i was trying find some new places and i realized in some people don’t take their kids to parks and there some amazing parks.

Like we would goto some parks that many nannies and stay at home parents goto because they are in an richer area and they would be busy. But then we go to another park across the street and see no one.
Or if it one of those huge parks like that you can stay all day at there usually kids there or camps. We ran into a lot of camps at the bigger ones. Also I get what you mean about meeting other people with kids you know already at the park. We do that sometimes too. But I love when they make random friends at the park and just play. My kids are so good at that now when there are actually kids there.
Elisa Schmitz
What a great goal you're trying to achieve, Mike Prochaska ! I'm wondering if the lack of people at parks has to do with being busy and overscheduled, or is it technology? Whatever the reason, I'm sad about it. I loved taking my kids to parks. Such a great escape, physical and mental. And, a great place to meet other kids and parents. Keep going!
Gwen Johnson
That's a lot of parks! You're lucky you live in an area that has so any to choose from. Unfortunately, there are some communities who may not even have one park to go to.

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