5 Tips to Make the Best of Adventures at the Park & Beyond with Kids

Hidden Pond Park Menasha

School’s out and you have vowed to do more outdoor time. Maybe you’re working on logging 1,000 hours outside?

You have done your research and bookmarked a list of the best parks in the valley.

It is a glorious midwest day and you find a shady bench, but after a little while your kids seek you out and utter the “b-word”—they have declared that they are bored!

Here are some simple ways my family has managed to make our visits to the park last longer. 

Memorial Park in Appleton

5 Tips to Extend Your Stay at the Park!

  1. Be Prepared: At the beginning of summer do an inventory of your car. What are some activities your family enjoys doing and what do you need to keep in your vehicle to make it happen? For example, in my trunk we keep the following:
    • First aid kit. Band-aids truly can cure all! 
    • Sunscreen and bug spray
    • Blanket—for picnics (Our family mostly does fast food or donuts at the park, no need to make it Instaworthy.)
    • Water bottles and snacks
    • Towel (for wiping down slides, or drying kids off after they jump in puddles)
    • Used grocery bags for any wet items
    • Chalk
    • Kites (can also use a plastic grocery bag in a pinch!)
  2. Low Expectations: Sometimes as parents we want our kids to be into doing All The Things! While more often than not kids just want to enjoy the downtime of summer—give in to that! Find yourself a podcast (maybe one from WiscoFam! & Go Oshkosh Kids?) and let them roam the park. See tip number one to prepare for a long stay at any neighborhood park. 
  3. Encourage Independence: When your child asks for your help because they are “stuck” and can’t find their way through the playground equipment, encourage them to problem solve. Let them know you will be right there to catch them, but talk about solutions together. Phrases like “Where do you think your foot should go next?” or “Does your body feel ready to let go?” can help a child build confidence and give you a little bit of downtime in the long run. 

READ MORE: Best Parks & Playgrounds to Explore in the Fox Valley

adult with red nail polish holding the hand of a child

The next two tips are about safety.

No one likes to think that we might need help finding our kids in crowded areas, but when we are prepared and have a plan, chaotic times can be more manageable. 

  1. We have all been to a park where there are blind spots created by the equipment, or to a museum/amusement park and our littles wander off because something caught their attention—our stomach sinks because we can’t find our child. Our first instinct is to walk around the park looking under the slides, we don’t usually say anything. Try this instead, in a firm and loud voice describe your child: “I am looking for a girl wearing blue sneakers (always describe footwear), a white shirt, and leggings.” This will help others know what to look for when they notice you need assistance. 
  2. Make a plan with your children. Yes, stranger danger is an important lesson, but an even more important one is to teach them to look for help. An adult female with children is my go-to. The kids are more likely to go up to another mom than a stranger male. An added tip would be to have a contact phone number for you somewhere your child can carry with them. If they are too young to remember the phone number, you can use a sharpie and write it in a spot that is not obvious; I have written it on my child’s foot, under their sleeve, and on their belly. 

Now you are ready to visit a local park, outdoor festival, or any other activity your family might be into! Check out our monthly events calendar for upcoming summer adventures. 

READ MORE: Tips for a Successful Family Camping Trip from a Sensory Perspective

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