Babies can be pretty boring, particularly when they’re newborn and can’t really do anything. Yes, it’s nice looking at their cute little faces whilst they sleep, but for me, I’ve been itching for Baby L to get to the point where she can do stuff.
At just over 10 months old, the sprog is now at that point. She’s moving around, exploring everything, keen to learn and is developing her own little personality. This means that she is now fun. Tiring, but fun!
Having recently become a stay-at-home dad, I’m now trying to find stuff to do in order to help her development and occupy us on a daily basis. One of the things I’ve enjoyed doing with the sprog over the last month or so is heading to the park. We’ve got some great playgrounds, outdoor spaces and woods in Hertfordshire, all within walking distance of the house, so the nice weather has meant that we’ve ventured outside more often.
In a world where money rules everything, I think it’s important to get back to basics. Money doesn’t necessarily mean happiness or equate to fun, particularly when you’re talking about a baby less than a year old. So, for me, there’s nothing better than heading to the park on a sunny day to chill out on the grass, let her roam around and have a go on the playground equipment.
A particular favourite location of ours at the moment is just off the High Street where we live – not only does it have a large playing field and great playground equipment, but there’s also a skatepark, football pitch and basketball net which we’ll be making use of when she’s older. Depending on how energetic I’m feeling, I’ll either strap the sprog into the baby carrier and walk there or just get in the car and pull up in the car park.
Sometimes, the simple things are the best. Seeing her go on a swing for the first time, or go down the slide on her own is pretty priceless. It’s also fantastic to see her develop every time we do go to the park and play on the playground equipment. Fear and trepidation from the first time of going has been replaced with confidence and enjoyment as she figures things out for herself.
Obviously, having a good quality outdoor playground on the doorstep is a massive bonus. The one we go to was recently upgraded, so features a fair amount of varied playground equipment which is high quality, safe, looks good and, most importantly, fun. At this outdoor playground alone, we have cradle swings, Spider Man’s web swing (pretty sure this isn’t the official name!), a mini-roundabout, climbing frames, play frames and a slide.
As the little one is still on the young side, she can’t use everything yet, but she’s giving the stuff she can use a pretty bloody good go. Her favourite bit of kit at the playground so far seems to be the mini roundabout which she loves to sit and stand on as it spins round – obviously with me proper cacking myself as I move two feet away to take a photo. Not only does she enjoy being on it, but she enjoys chewing on the metal bars which I’m not sure constitutes ‘good parenting’, but we’ll quickly skip over that…
Another favourite of Baby L’s is what I like to call ‘Spider Man’s web swing’. She’s a bit too young to understand the reference just yet, but I’m sure she’ll be LOLing and ROFLing loads when she’s that bit older and realises how funny I am. She wasn’t a massive fan of being on this the first time, but her confidence grew as she realised that no super villains were going to come along and do anything bad to her.
I also like this swing as it is strong enough to take my entire weight, meaning that I can have a lie down whilst playing with the sprog. And they say blokes can’t multi-task.
It took a few attempts, but I eventually got Baby L into a proper swing when we last went to the park. I always thought kids would love swings, but something about this bit of playground equipment made her uneasy. As soon as we’d put her in it, she’d start reaching out for us and crying.
In a way, that’s pretty similar behaviour to what the missus was like when we went to Go Ape for the first time and realised she didn’t like being on things that moved underneath her. Still, perseverance on my behalf (aka bullying) means that Baby L now ‘enjoys’ being on the swings and is even ‘happy’ having a little push.
The park also has a cube thing (not sure what else to call it) which has stairs, a rope ladder and a slide on it. As Baby L can’t walk, the stairs and rope ladder are way beyond her capabilities just yet, but she does enjoy the slide. I place her at the top and she shuffles on her bum to the edge before sliding down – obviously with me ready to catch her if she falls backwards, forwards or off the edge!
Rather than throw her onto it the first time we went to the park, I thought I’d be a careful, considerate, loving dad by going down with her. That was great in theory, but either the slide was too narrow or my arse was too big, meaning I shuffled down with her on my lap rather than raced down at the speed of light. I’m pretty sure that after that ‘thrilling’ ride she was keen to give it a go herself.
The final part of the park is a timber adventure circuit which is made up of playground equipment like monkey bars, tyre traverse, balance beams and a suspension bridge. Although she can’t use these type of things just yet, she’s enjoyed using some of the beams to help her stand up as well as crawling across the bridge.
From recollection, I never had any of these type of things when I was younger at our local parks as it was all about swings, slides and roundabouts. I think it’s a great idea having equipment such as these because it can only help with development – balance, coordination, strength, fitness etc. It also makes the park loads more interesting for me as I try to beat my previous best time of completing the circuit!
So that’s what we get up to when we go to the park. How about you? Do you and your little one(s) enjoy playing at the park? What’s their favourite bit of playground equipment? Do you reckon you’d be able to beat me around the adventure circuit?!