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My Favorite Tips for the Park Playground

Beverly Cleary Fountain at US Grant Park in Portland, Oregon (my favorite park)

Time to get reacquainted with the best entertainment value around: the playground at your neighborhood park. If you’ve got toddlers, you probably need no reintroduction. But if you’re the parent of a school-aged child, you may have forgotten the beauty of a few open-ended hours spent at the park.

In concert with Coca-Cola’s America Is Your Park campaign, I thought it would be a good time to revisit a few of my favorite Parent Hacks tips for keeping park-and-playground visits easy and fun.

Keep a “playground tote” stocked and ready. Park visits are more fun when you’ve got the sunscreen, hats, and other gear within close reach. Inspired by this hack for using up your random assortment of freebie tote bags and reusable grocery bags, stock a “playground tote” so you can grab and go at a moment’s notice.

While you’re at it, throw a roll of toilet paper and some hand sanitizer into your tote. Playground restrooms are notoriously spare. Come prepared with your own cleanup stash.

If your kid is potty training, bring the potty with you. Potty training + playground = headache. Unless you’ve got the potty with you. Your kid’s not shy — why should you be? A while back, Parent Hacks readers discussed various potties specifically designed to be portable.

Stow beach towels or an old tablecloth in your car trunk. Sheer laziness inspired this hack. I forgot to empty the trunk after a pool visit, but then found that having towels on hand was incredibly useful. Towels can double as park seating, tablecloths for picnic tables, blankets, sunshades and (of course) insurance against surprise sprinkler deploys.

Snap a bib over the baby swing for a clean(er) teething surface. No explanation necessary.

Mop up the puddle at the bottom of the slide with a diaper or a squeegee. Even when there’s no rain in the forecast, early-morning dew or sprinklers can leave a wet surprise at the bottom of the playground slide.

How do you keep your playground visits fun and easy?

Visit America Is Your Park to nominate and vote for your favorite park! I’ll be voting for Grant Park in Portland, Oregon. Coke will award recreation grants to the top three parks with the most votes – $100,000 for first place, $50,000 for second and $25,000 for third. Also, a $15,000 grant will be awarded, at random, to a lucky park that comes in 4th to 25th on the leader board by the end of the contest. You can also add a Facebook badge to encourage others to vote for your park.

This is sponsored content from Babble and The Coca-Cola Company. All opinions expressed in the post are my own and not those of Coca-Cola. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Only legal residents of the 50 U.S. (and D.C.) who are at least 13 years old and reside within the U.S. at the time of participation are eligible to vote for a Park. Participate on behalf of a Park by: July 15, 2012. The 3 most popular Parks will be offered a grant and there will be 1 Wild Card drawing at the end of the Contest to award an additional grant. To participate, for Official Rules, and complete details including grant descriptions, visit www.LivePositively.com/parks. Void where prohibited. Click here to see more of the discussion.


Read more from me at

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Minimalist Parenting: Enjoy Modern Family Life More By Doing Less
More on The Accidental Expert:
♦ On the walk to school
♦ Family tech: the agony and the ecstasy

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