My kids love the park. They are quite literally park obsessed…and I should be happy about this, right? They aren’t asking for screens, they are asking for slides. But here’s the thing…I hate going to the park. After about fifteen minutes of running around with them, I am bored out of my mind. I can only watch my boys race their Hot Wheels down the slides so many times before my mind starts to wander and I am itching to check my phone for anything more exciting than examining wood chips and swinging on monkey bars. Does this make me a bad mom? Maybe. But you know what else it does? It makes me an honest mom. And now that I have shared my deep, dark feelings about the park, here is the solution I have come up with to make going to the park much more enjoyable: going on a “Park Crawl.”
Why should you go on a park crawl? Because it is a fun and focused way for everyone in your family to have an enjoyable time exploring one park after another—and for moms like me who get bored at the same park day after day, this is a much more exciting way to spice up our park time. Want to set up your own park crawl? Here are some of my tried and true tips:
- Research all of the parks on the park district website. And don’t just feel restricted to those parks in your area—explore somewhere totally foreign and new—I guarantee you won’t regret it.
- Map out a game plan, including snack and bathroom breaks. I also recommend that you limit each park visit to around 30 minutes so you can tackle all of the parks on your list before total and utter exhaustion sets in.
- Make a superlatives list to rank parks based on what your family enjoys the most. Need some inspiration? Here you go!
*Trickiest Monkey Bars*
*Coolest Things to Climb*
*Most Awesome Water Features*
*Best Spots for “Hide and Go Seek”*
*Shadiest Park on a Sunny Day*
*Nicest/Cleanest Picnic Area*
- Go and PLAY! That means you too, mom and dad. Be present and play. Having trouble getting into park play? Think back to the games you used to love playing at the park when you were young and introduce your kids to them. Want to capture the park fun? Don’t forget that the best photos are always once you start having fun, so if you want to get a great photo memento, take one about twenty minutes into your play time and then put the phone AWAY, as hard as that might be.
- Ask around for park recommendations. Here are some of our favorite parks in Chicagoland:
In the Burbs
Flick Park, Glenview
So many different playgrounds to choose from, it is nearly impossible to be bored.
Katherine Legge Memorial Playground, Hinsdale
Eco friendly wooden park that provides nonstop climbing fun.
Knoch Park, Naperville
The centerpiece is a circular structure designed for climbing, and don’t leave without checking out the tall, sky scraping slides!
Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe
There is nothing more fun than running up and down the hills in the Children’s Garden….well, maybe exploring the nature inspired playground by wading barefoot in the stream. It’s a close call.
Warren Park, Gurnee
There are dinosaur bones hidden in the massive sandbox. Seriously.
In the City
So many different ways for kids of all ages to climb up, over, around….the options are endless!
Maggie Daley Park
There are so many cool and unique features, and the sights are stunning. Just don’t head out there until you read my sanity saving tips!
Rutherford Sayre Playground
A must see park for train lovers!
Mary Bartelme Park
Where art and water combine into one of the most beautiful parks in all of the city.
- Keep track of favorite parks (and not so favorite ones so you know not to go back there) and visit when you want to unplug and work up a sweat…I mean, if you are anything like me you are going to have to work up to mastering the monkey bars once again…I swear they used to be easier!
What is your favorite park? We would love to go and check it out!