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Opting Out of Dirty Playground Dates

March 1, 2012

This was one of my very first blog posts. Since most of you were not here then, I thought I’d share it with you now. I’m still not a big fan of parks and sand-filled playgrounds. But I have become a bit more tolerant.  New content will be back next week!

Am I a bad mother?

A few weeks ago, I was scheduled to take my daughter to a get-together at the local park.  I was feeling tortured. I know she deserves to go outside to play. But I had so many errands that need to be taken care of – Target, this week’s (and last) groceries, the holiday gifts that need to be purchased. So much to do. And with a 2-year-old, so very little time before nap. So I make the most logical decision. I opt out of the gathering.

While these are all good (and true) reasons to opt against the playgroup, are they the real ones?

The truth be told, I flaked because I can’t STAND the thought of slathering my freshly-bathed toddler with sunscreen in the morning and cleaning every crevice of her body from sand and dirt. Or of me sweating on a playground and the gritty feeling of sand stuck against my feet and sandals. I find myself wondering when (okay, hoping) she will fall apart from exhaustion and I will need to sweep her into the car to go home.

But she should experience all these activities, right? Am I depriving her from fun outdoor mornings at the playground because of my idiosyncrasies?

And then I think to myself, The kid is only 2! Call me a bad mother, but why subject myself to this torture when I can choose not to? Right now, she won’t know the difference. There will be plenty of days in the future when she will know exactly what she’s missing and resent me for it.

I know some moms (and dads) out there don’t care if their kid is covered in dirt each day; that their kid permanently smells of Coppertone; that they bath the kid nightly to rinse off the stickiness of the day. And maybe they are better parents because of it.

In the meantime, we’ll opt for indoor play and Target trips.

Look at that happy kid on the playground!

25 Comments leave one →
  1. March 1, 2012 4:04 am

    I would have done exactly the same. I can’t deny that i feel guilty very often, but after all, i need some time for myself too (that i never can get), and i just tell myself that i am doing what i can.

    • March 8, 2012 12:06 am

      You are very right. I’ve come to listen to that feeling in me too.

  2. March 1, 2012 4:06 am

    We all consider ourselves “bad” mothers at some point (actually, many times- the best is yet to come with that category). You are not a bad mother. Parents have to do what works best for them. And now at 4, Sophie seems fine- so this early playground deprivation didn’t harm her!

    • March 8, 2012 12:06 am

      Thanks, Lisa. I’m hoping she isn’t scared for life. I’m sure I will do something far worse when she’s a teenager.

  3. March 1, 2012 5:35 am

    I’m with you, I do not like the ‘ick’ factor, especially on newly bathed little one. One can’t put it off forever, and wouldn’t want to, but as the person above me said, Sophie is a profoundly healthy and happy little girl!

    • March 8, 2012 12:06 am

      Thanks, Elizabeth. I think she’s doing okay too 🙂

  4. March 1, 2012 5:37 am

    I think choices to keep life pleasant and flowing rather rushed and crammed is better for children and the family as a whole. I think questioning choices helps to make a better parent because we’re more able to discern if changes needs to be made. Keep up the great work! 🙂

    • March 8, 2012 12:07 am

      Thank you so much. Your words are appreciated.

  5. Lena permalink
    March 1, 2012 6:50 am

    Thanks for sharing! You left out the best excuse of all not to go for the park playtime — laziness! Mommy is TIRED kids. I often don’t want to take my two there because it is hard work chasing them around a big park, watching them every second, chasing one and the other ones goes the opposite direction. Much easier to watch them play in our our lanai — I admit, laziness often prevails — not to mention all of those germs.. ick. But that being said, I’m sure we’ll be at the park this weekend..

    • March 8, 2012 12:07 am

      Well, yes, that is a big part of the excuse! I feel like parks require so much work, like you said. Why do that when I can be lazy at home!

  6. March 1, 2012 8:47 am

    You are certainly not a bad mother! If you don’t want to do it, then don’t. Who cares what other moms do, say or think?

  7. March 1, 2012 1:18 pm

    I say do what you’ve got to do to stay sane. I hated bath night more than anything when my kids were little and I would make up all sorts of excuses to get out of it. Not because I didn’t want them clean, but because by that time of day I was cooked and the thought of letting them splash and play and make a godawful mess of water all over the bathroom that I would later have to mop up sounded like torture. I didn’t want them to hate baths, but I did often take them into the shower with me and a pile of Legos in the morning for a quick wash instead. I’m certain neither of them suffered for it…

    • March 8, 2012 12:08 am

      OMG, I so agree with you. I can’t stand bath time either. It’s definitely my husband’s area in this house. So not relaxing.

  8. March 1, 2012 4:24 pm

    ha! I hear you on the park. For me, the pool is 1000 times worse!!!

    • March 8, 2012 12:09 am

      Oh yes, the pool! That is worse, especially since I have to get in with her.

  9. March 2, 2012 11:53 am

    I felt exactly the same way. BUT I also come from a background of my mother not believing in exercise at all, and all my life I’ve been, well, pudgy and weak.

    What made all the difference for me was making *myself* a park bag. In the bag went food for mommy (and a backup snack for the boy), water bottle, audio book (so I could keep an eye on him and still be entertained), Ipod filled with music (ditto), sunblock and hats (for me and him) and notepad with pen. I kept it in the trunk of my car so we could do the park on a dime.

    Suddenly the park wasn’t as onerous. Taking care of mommy is something I don’t always succeed at – or even think to do sometimes – but wow, when I do, it makes life better for everyone.

    • March 8, 2012 12:09 am

      Love the idea of the park bag! I’m going to whip one of those up for us.

  10. March 3, 2012 1:59 pm

    Leah, little Sophie looks so cute in this photo! I struggled with the same issues when my children were little. Being a germophobe, I worried what they were touching, who was coughing on them, who they were coughing on, everything. Like you, I decided indoor play and Target runs were the better option. Nowadays, both my children are both well adjusted and healthy. No regrets here! 🙂

    • March 8, 2012 12:10 am

      I’m glad to hear your kids are now fine, Bella. And glad I’m not the only public park germaphobe both there too.

  11. March 3, 2012 5:17 pm

    I have no problem either way with kids…but I prefer to do the Target run and grocery shopping rather than sitting outside in the sand!

    • March 8, 2012 12:10 am

      Thanks, Ann. I have to say I’m happy Sophie also likes a good Target run!

  12. March 4, 2012 5:56 pm

    Cute! What a cute little Sophie!! We have a lovely green space in our apartment complex. It’s long and filled with trees, rocks, toys, and everything a kid could want. And mud. Lots of mud when it rains, which has been often this winter. With two boys, I have resigned myself somewhat to the inevitability of mess. But I’m quite content when they just want to play inside. And if I want to get them outside, I can also suggest going for a walk in the stroller. It’s still fresh air, even if it’s not as much (or any) physical exertion.

    • March 8, 2012 12:11 am

      Your little play area sounds nice. I think I’d like the greenery and grass better than sand. And I like the peacefulness of it too.


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