Perhaps you have a favorite park. Think of all the reasons why it is your favorite. For various reasons your child may choose a different park. I am guessing there is at least one that you both love. A park is more than a designated “green” space. Every community needs and benefits from them. Some towns may have only one small park and larger towns and cities may have a plethora of them.
In two previous posts I encouraged you to explore the library and the resale stores in your community. These posts can be seen at
https://dianesergeant.wordpress.com/2016/03/25/9-things-you-should-borrow/ and https://dianesergeant.wordpress.com/2016/04/15/10-things-to-know-about-resale-stores/
In this third installment in my “Around Town” category, I want to encourage you to take advantage of your parks. Many towns also have a park district, a governing board that manages and develops the physical parks and programs. It’s time to explore the parks in your community for your sake and your child’s. The following are my best 10 discoveries regarding parks:
- Playgrounds of all kinds. Kids will have fun. Two summers ago my daughter-in-law set a summer goal of visiting every playground in her community. That was a summer goal her 5 kids loved.
- Rose gardens, herb gardens, Oriental gardens, botanical gardens, butterfly gardens, Conservatories. . . . While your children are young teach them to identify flowers and plants. Learn to appreciate nature and its beauty. Much later these sites can be awesome locations for free dates, and boys with plant knowledge will impress their dates.
- Pools/waterparks/splash pads. Everyone can cool off and have fun. Children can take swimming lessons. Swimming is a valuable life skill.
- Walking/Bike paths. Many communities have safe, off-road paths for walking and biking. Just like driving an automobile, remember to stay to the right side and pass on the left side of the path. (A great opportunity to practice left and ride).
- Dog Park. This is a great bonus for pet owners with a small yard or who live in an apartment.
- Frisbee Golf. A growing trend and usually free to play.
- Park District classes and lessons. Besides swimming many districts offer other sports such as tumbling, soccer, and little league baseball. My children also enjoyed the following district classes: Safety Town, Super Tots, Cooking and Me, and Fort Building. There are also summer camps.
- Fitness Courses. We all need more movement. Some parks have a fitness course. It is a track with exercise stations and equipment to do the exercises. Exercise is a de-stresser.
- Outdoor Locations. I have heard that almost everyone in North America is low on Vitamin D. So go outside and get some in the purest and most natural form from the sun along with some fresh air.
- Also Park District Employment. With a work permit districts will hire even 14 and 15 year olds for part time seasonal work. Our eldest son worked as a soccer referee.
Lilacia Park, Lombard, IL 1986.
Parks and playgrounds can be enjoyed in all but the most extreme weather. Each season has a different view to offer. If your town doesn’t have many parks, then head to the next town, and maybe even the one after that. This is a great way to spend time with your children.
P.S. Pack a picnic lunch or snack and leave your cell phone in the car.
Upcoming: “Around Town” #4 – Art in your community
I don’t play soccer. Do you? Some of our sons played. I always enjoyed watching them. I even wore a sweatshirt on which I had cross stitched a pennant, a ball, and the words SOCCER MOM. Even though I have seen many games, I still do not completely understand “off sides”.
Our oldest son played on park district teams for several years. He loved the game so much that after he “aged” out of the program he took a job working for the district as a soccer referee. He said refereeing the game was the easy part. Dealing with “passionate” parents was the hard part. On one windy and drizzly fall day at this job, he was miserable. He recalls specifically praying that someone would offer him some hot chocolate. God answered that prayer, when mom arrived with a thermos of the comforting drink.
Now he is coaching his eldest son’s team and watching the younger son’s team play. I recently had the honor of watching them all. It is fun to observe my son as dad and coach. He is doing a great job at both.
Soccer has some parallels to parenting.
- In the game with young players the coach has every player point in the direction of the goal at the start of each half. Everyone must know where the goal is located and which direction they must take the ball to score. In parenting, spouses must be in agreement on goals. They have to work together. And they must have a united front. If they are not united,those sweet darlings will put a wedge between them to their selfish advantage and no one wins.
- From the sidelines, the ball may appear to be in the net, but it has fallen short. Sometimes the ball rolls beside the net or behind the net. What is obvious to the players may not be clear to the spectators on the sidelines. Parents sometimes need to consider situations from their child’s perspective. We may be missing some details or information which would cause us to form different conclusions. Give ample opportunity to your children to share their side of all conflicts.
- Soccer players need fans. They are energized by the cheers from the sidelines. Parents need cheerleaders too. Parental cheerleaders are hard to find. Spouses can be that for each other. Speak up when you see others doing well at parenting. Find a source to emotionally build you up as a parent.
- The player we used to call the goalie is now called a keeper. Keepers have additional practice and training. Sometimes parents need additional training. I did. I was always seeking input from magazines, books, radio talk shows, and other parents on how to handle parenting issues. Occasionally I received uninvited advice that I didn’t want to hear but needed.
- In soccer there are defensive positons and offensive positions. Each has a specific job to do. Parents have to do both and know when to do which one. Parents must support and defend their child, but also challenge and equip them for life. It is a huge job and it last 18 plus years, not four fifteen minute quarters.
- Soccer teams have coaches to train the players and lead throughout the game. Sometimes with shouting. Parents have a heavenly Father, who loves them, and desires to give guidance and direction. Usually with a still, quiet voice. Both want victory.
Parents, God is on your side. Family is his plan.