My crew loves summertime. We love being outside and we are fortunate to have a large backyard and playset to burn off some of that crazy kid energy. But even this mom finds that she needs a change of scenery every once in a while. So, every now and then we will pick a day and go on an activity that we like to call “park hopping”.
Now, I am aware that the name that my family have assigned to this activity sounds very similar to buying expensive tickets that allow you to visit multiple amusement parks in one day, but no, that is not what I am talking about here. Thankfully the “park hopping” that I am referring to, is far more cost effective. The basic idea for the “park hopping’ that we do is to go from one community park or playground to another. Hopping around to a bunch of different ones until we are officially wiped out for the day.
Playgrounds have changed a lot since I was a kid. I remember back in my day, most being filled with really old, potentially rusty playground equipment and hot metal slides that would burn your legs on the way down. Don’t get me wrong, we still had a lot of fun with them, but now it seems like you can access top notch playground equipment around almost any corner. Most of the smaller towns around us have been given a nice face lift as they were gifted playground equipment from the local schools as the schools updated to even newer models. A lot of the larger towns around us have upgraded to these amazing new playsets. We are talking about extra tall slides, double decker merry-go-rounds, zip lines, you name it. Even the ground surface is nicer for most, with these spongy rubber ground covers that don’t have you running around on gravel or constantly needing to remove mulch from your shoes. Sometimes they even have splash pads alongside these playgrounds too (great for those who have kiddos who have a fascination to water ). Many have equipment that allows kids with disabilities to be able to play easier as well.
Although Damion is not always a huge fan of change, visiting a new playground never seems to disappoint. Sometimes he has a few issues around understanding his boundaries at a new place, but we just make sure to set the ground rules at the beginning. If we find ourselves in a situation where he can’t follow the rules and I am concerned about him staying safe for one reason or another at a particular park, then we pack up and go try a different one. It is honestly a very rare occurrence that we have problems to the extent that we would have to leave. The only times that I can really even remember this happening came from playsets that are set too close to roads or parking lots and him not keeping enough distance away from those areas.
The only real cost associated with park hopping would be the gas to get to there, which I know is not a small thing at the moment. But if you live in a large town or city, you may be able to even take a nice walk from park to park, or find one large park that has multiple playsets (like our somewhat local Tawawa Park in Sidney). We live in the middle of nowhere, so we usually have to drive, but relative to the cost to go just about anywhere else, it is still a cheaper day out than most.
Communities have really started putting some large investments in playsets for their local parks, and it shows. There are so many fun parks to play at nearby and on the days we want to try new, all we have to do is pick a direction and start mapping out the next park to go to. Park hopping days are a big hit for my kiddos, and now that my kids are all to an age where they need minimal assistance to use the equipment, it makes for a pretty nice and relaxing day for this mom too. So, if you are looking for a great and somewhat inexpensive way to entertain your kids for the day, I’d say “start hopping”.