Moms of Toddlers: Keep Your Little Ones Off the Big Kid Rides (Please)


playground safetyDear parents of toddlers, 

I’m asking you kindly, parent to parent, to please keep your younger kids off the big kids’ playgrounds. And slides. And bouncy houses. These structures have age ranges (usually 2-5 years old or 5 years and older) and they have them for a reason. I know you think it’s cute and you are so proud of your brave little one for going down a slide that’s way too big for them. I know because I used to be that parent, too. I used to get annoyed at the big kids for playing “too rough” and not watching out for my little ones.

But now I have bigger kids, and it is very frustrating when they have to be cautious in their own play area because a toddler and their well-intended parent are slowly ambling up the stairs or scooting across the jumpy bridge.  The jumpy bridge is for jumping! Let the kids jump!

I know this probably isn’t a popular opinion, but it needs to be said.

Today I took my kids to a festival downtown, and they had one of those huge bouncy slides. The ones that are over a full story tall. This is always a popular feature. And every single time, the line gets really long because a toddler who is too young for the slide is taking a very long time climbing all the way to the top.

It takes a lot of gross motor coordination to climb up that slide, which is why it’s not intended for toddlers.

Once at the top, inevitably the younger child gets knocked over by all the big kids rushing by him to barrel down the slide. Meanwhile, the toddler’s parents are at the bottom, smiling and waving like mad, recording every interminable second on their phones, beckoning their child to come down this huge slide of terrifying heights so they can videotape with pride.

Spoiler alert- at least half the time the toddler is too scared to slide down (appropriately so, because they are too young for the ride!) and the parent has to clog up traffic yet again to go grab their kid.

And don’t get me started on the bouncy houses. Why would anyone put their 18-month-old in a bouncy house with a bunch of big kids? That’s just begging for disaster! I know, I know, you don’t want your child to miss out. I felt that way once, too. But now I get it. It’s annoying and unfair to expect the bigger kids to limit their fun because they have to be mindful of a toddler.

Please don’t get mad at me for stating the obvious.

I firmly believe the play dynamics on rides, slides, and structures would run much more smoothly if kids stuck to their age-appropriate places, at least during peak times when it’s crowded. There would be fewer injuries, big kids could enjoy themselves, and, quite honestly, younger ones would, too.

It’s a bit of a stretch to put them on a huge slide, crowded bouncy house, or playground that they aren’t developmentally ready for. Especially when the area is very busy. So don’t push them. They will get there, I promise. My kids have SO much more fun now that they are truly old enough for these activities. And if you are going to do it anyway, just know (and accept) it’s likely they might get bonked or bumped or bruised. 

So next time you are tempted to put your kid on a ride, slide, or structure that he or she is too young for, take a step back and ask yourself why you are pushing it. Consider finding something more age-appropriate. Your future big kids will thank you!

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Meredith is a transplant to the Bay Area and has fallen in love with the weather, gorgeous scenery, and plethora of local wineries. A wife and mother of two, she works part-time as a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist. She hails from Texas, where she attended the University of Texas and will always bleed orange. She then moved to Washington DC to attend Georgetown's School of Medicine, where she fell in love with her future husband, a fellow student, and has been happily married for almost a decade. She and her husband lived in Cincinnati, Ohio for several years for their medical training and found it the perfect place to start a family. She relocated to the Bay Area a few years ago and has quickly adapted to West Coast living. Meredith enjoys the balance of part-time working and full-time parenting and loves to write about this ongoing struggle. In her persistent drive to find more "me time", she actively pursues her interests in reading, running, soccer, baking, and wine tasting.


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