8 Ways to Make Park Outings Easy and Fun
Have you ever taken your kids to a park and it’s been a total disaster because of weather, needing a potty or ‘hanger’? Me: Yes, definitely!
The following is a list of 8 ideas to make your child’s and your park outing a bit easier in the future. I do not ensure 100% success, but these tips can make your next experience more fun and stress-free. Easy and fun is what we are going for right? Yes!
1. Bring Snacks
I’m pretty sure my kids are not the only kids like this, but man, the second their tiny, fast metabolisms use up that last meal we JUST ate before we left the house, they require a snack and require a snack N-O-W! I always make sure I have a snack in my bag for them to eat on the go. Yep, it’s probably packaged and that’s ok. Lately, they’ve really enjoyed fruit leathers, cheese crackers, applesauce pouches and Trader Joe’s coconut date bars (Have you had these? They are delish). If I detect any attitude shift or grumpiness, I pull out my snack and they are instantly happy. Snacks are also a great transition tool. Hey, you want to leave the playground for the day or go to a different location? Here kids, have a pouch. Whabam–transition success!
Do you have more than one child? For me, the answer is yes. If you do, my other tip is ALWAYS, always, always pack the same snack. The sibling competition is fierce and no different snacks are ever allowed by my children. It only creates conflict, at least for us :)
This might be considered another tip (hey, 3 in 1), but for me, it goes hand in hand with snacks, don’t forget the water. In my to-go bag, I have two large spots for their drinks. I always make sure I bring them.
Lastly, if you follow me on Instagram, you know I pack a picnic for my kids almost daily in the summer. Picnics are fun, and my kids are obsessed with them. When I pack a picnic, I will sometimes bypass snacks and get them to hold out until our picnic lunch. Try a picnic even if you just go outside in your backyard. A blanket, some food and a bit of shade is all that is needed!
2. Pack Sunscreen
Sunscreen is a must to keep that skin from getting burned. I have two in our to-go bag. A simple spray kind and a stick sunscreen. Sometimes our spray gets taken out of the bag, but the tiny stick always seems to be in there. The stick is great for faces, necks and ears. You do not want to cut your trip short because the playground has zero shade and the sun is in full force so sunscreen is a must. So many playgrounds in my area do not have large trees or sun shades so we always need to be careful about our skin getting burned when we are on an outing.
3. Bring a Hat
Along a similar thread to sunscreen is bring hats for your kids. We have two sets of hats to keep in our cars. Both of my kids wear hats for different reasons, my son is very sensitive to light so he loves a hat to keep his face shaded. My daughter, I wish would wear her hat like him, but she wears hats for fashion, backwards despite me flipping it around 40 times. I guess her neck is shaded haha. Sigh, I digress.
If you don’t want to use a ton of sunscreen on your children and trust me I get it because I try to limit chemicals, then a hat is needed when you are going to the park.
These are the hats I bought for my kids. They are pretty nice and I like how neutral they are. The pink hat is for real going to be my daughter’s signature look at this age. We will look back fondly at pictures and remember this pink hat always. It’s actually hilarious how much she wears it…backwards of course.
4. Take a Stroller or Wagon
I take a stroller for two reasons:
- The kids inevitably want a rest at some point. Sometimes we walk around a trail and they don’t want to walk the whole way so they ride.
- If we aren’t walking a far distance because we are playing on a playground, I let them walk, but have the stroller just in case they need to ride and it can carry our supplies for our day out. Hey…momma gets to push the stuff instead of carrying 50 thousand items! Whoop!
We have the Baby Jogger City Select Double Stroller. It’s been good for us on walks, on trails, or lugging our stuff. It was an investment for sure, but it has held up great. I’ve seen some on Marketplace too if you don’t want to buy it for full price.
5. Use a Stroller Fan
There are some pretty genius ideas out there these days for stroller fans that clip or wind around the arm of the stroller. If it’s hot a fan is so helpful to keep the sweet babes happy. There’s nothing more terrifying than a hot, heavy, crying toddler who wants to be held when you are hot….wahhh (me crying too)! This simple addition to the stroller will make everyone happy. Ahh, cue cool breeze.
6. A Change of Clothes
I pack at least 1 extra outfit for each of my children each time we are leaving the house. I go through our bag and see what’s in there. Do I need underwear? Check. Do I need shorts? Check. Do I need an extra shirt? Check.
I do not worry about them getting wet, sandy, muddy or food stains when we are out because I always have an extra set of clothes with me. Messy play is also so important for them to experience. Sure, I like cute clothes on my kids, but I don’t want to feel bad about them messing up nicer clothes so we get play clothes second-hand almost all the time. Sometimes I pack an extra set of clothes and a swimsuit or a jacket depending on the season. We are like the boy scouts–always prepared…or something like that.
I have even had extra outfits stored in the car just in case. A spare on top of a spare is not a bad idea.
7. Scope out the Park
Yes, sir or ma’am, you need to research that park you are going to before you get there. I did not abide by this rule the other day. Here’s what happened: We went to a lovely outdoor storytime in our area and then visited the park that was adjacent. It’s a super cool park, but not appropriate for a 1 and 3-year-old. There was a ginormous structure with amazing slides, but the only way to access the slides was by climbing a rock wall or a rope ladder. It was intense. My 3-year-old wanted my help with it, but I had his sister I needed to watch and there would be no way for me to climb up and rescue my 3-year-old when she was below not being supervised. The other portion of the park included a teeny tiny slide and a very small climbing structure, literally appropriate for wee babies. There was no in-between.
If I had simply looked up the park before we left, I would have seen that it was not ideal for my two children. Don’t worry though, I was able to pivot because I had packed a picnic and as I said, my kids love their food!
Look how happy we all are when the park is appropriate…awwww!
8. Pack a Potty
I would say 9 times out of 10 there is a restroom at parks, but that one time oh my, what do you do? My older child is potty trained, but when he needs to go, we need a toilet now. Can you imagine my horror, when I walk up to the shelterhouse bathroom to find it locked? Or to find that there is no bathroom at all anywhere? For some reason, when the weather gets cold, they lock up all of the bathrooms around me. It is just a nightmare to find a place for a kid to use the restroom.
If you put a small potty in your car you are always prepared. You can put a diaper inside of it to soak it all up and then fold it and place it in a trash. #parentlifehack You are welcome!
This IKEA potty is pretty portable and clutch in situations like this. I know you think you don’t want a potty in your car, I feel you, but when your child needs to go poo, going poo in public is just not cool. Been there, done that! Thank goodness for dog doo bags.
We hope you enjoy the park! Tell me about your tricks too! I want to know :)