Mom Play-Date at the Park
By Caroline Saunders
As a kid, you were good about hanging out with your friends over the summer. But now? Well, it just doesn’t come as naturally, especially since “School’s Out!” now means that you have a slew of tiny ones in tow. But summer motherhood doesn’t negate your opportunities for fun and friend time, it just means you have to be a tad more creative. Olive Branch City Park Playground (8267 Goodman Rd) is the perfect place for bomb mom play-dates throughout the summer—without the hassle of securing childcare.
Playgrounds are the ideal place for groups, but ask any mom and she’ll tell you: not all playgrounds are created equal. The design of the new Olive Branch playground draws kids to independent play so that you can sit and talk with minimal interruption. It’s totally fenced in (read: kids can’t escape), has super soft rubber flooring (read: injuries are less likely), and has covered picnic tables (read: your crew doesn’t have to sit in the sun). The playground itself is next-level fun (there are disc swings and a big rope climbing contraption!), and it’s handicapped accessible, so every kid can have a good time. Something else that will solicit praise hands emojis: there are clean bathrooms just a few steps away.
Local mom Katie Sims works in children ministry at a DeSoto County church, and she loves going to the park with her family and has planned successful large group events there. “My number one concern for a space is safety,” she says. “This park has fun, safe, newly-renovated playground equipment, that soft foam ground that keeps kids from getting hurt when they jump down, and there’s one way in and one way out.” All of that means safe fun for the kids, and for the adults – better shot at meaningful conversation!
If your group is looking for ways to fill the time this summer, consider making it a weekly play-date, a no-fuss meet-up that you, your girlfriends, and all the kids can look forward to. Pack a few drinks, some sunscreen, and a spray bottle to cool off hot kiddos, and you’re set! If the children are early risers, meet there in the morning and designate one mama to do a Starbucks run. Whenever you go, consider bringing some cash — the ice cream truck has been known to make an appearance, and a popsicle might buy you an extra twenty minutes of talking.
One of the best things about a playground play-date is that it’s an easy, free, no-pressure way to nurture new friendships. All it requires is a simple text: “The kids and I are headed to the OB playground today, and I’m bringing a pizza for lunch! Would love for y’all to join us if you’re free!” Reach out to that mom from preschool or the gym or church that you’ve been wanting to get to know. If she can’t come, no big deal — your kids will have a great time and you can cruise Pinterest with minimal interruptions. But if she shows, maybe you’ll lay the groundwork for a forever friend.
If the long summer stretching ahead of you feels daunting, you may be in need of some quality time with other moms in the trenches. A few cleverly-planned park play-dates may be just what the doctor ordered for energetic kids and their drained parents. After all, Mama needs to have fun this summer, too!
Caroline Saunders is a writer (WriterCaroline.com), mother to two objectively adorable humans, and wife to Luke, a pastor and Aaron Rodgers look-alike, in Hernando, MS.