The warm weather is upon us and that means it’s time to hit all the public play areas, the parks, the splash pads, the state parks; all of the outdoor places are finally at our disposal again! With adventuring into the great outdoors comes a real fear of mine, parenting anxiety! The idea of letting my little dude play among other kids while their parents stand by and watch makes my skin crawl with fear. I’m not a social person, I’m horrible at small talk, and I’m constantly afraid that even though my kiddo is generally well behaved at the park, that I’m going to have to interact with other adult humans and it is terrifying. Another huge anxiety of visiting the park is the fact that kids inevitably fall down, and I know I have to let Little Man beef it every now and again, but I am also very torn between constantly hovering and letting him learn. The fear that although I let my kid throw sand like confetti and throw pebbles (not at people, we’re not savages) doesn’t mean that some other parents may find this behavior unacceptable and well if that doesn’t sum up all my fears rolled into one I don’t know what will.
Recently we decided to take our Little Dude to the park and the first one we drove past I immediately vetoed. My parenting anxiety was in full force as the park was too crowded and I just couldn’t do it. Thankfully we were able to adjust fire and went to another park and found it significantly less populated and decided to settle in and play.
It was when we finally got out of the car and started actually enjoying the park that I realized my parenting anxiety was really getting in the way of a multitude of awesome family experiences. By not wanting to put myself in a situation I felt uncomfortable in, I was first and foremost denying my son an awesome experience to be a kid and play at the park, but I also was deflecting my anxieties about strangers and new places onto him, and that was when I realized it was time to step up and handle my parenting anxiety.
Things that really help to ease my anxiety of taking Little Dude out to play are if my husband comes with us, having an extra set of hands and a rational mind with us is super helpful when I start to get extra anxious on the go.
Having a set handful of places that I know Little Dude loves to play at is also beneficial because a proper sized playground for a toddler means I won’t be anxiously hovering as he climbs up play structures. The third thing I found helpful was focusing on just how important outdoor play is for my Little Dude and just how much he loves it. There is nothing better than a happy toddler to help ease the most nerve wracking of anxiety.
Having a toddler is tough, having parenting anxiety is also tough, but learning to overcome these things in order to provide an awesome childhood for my son is something that is slowly becoming easier with every excursion into the wild that we take. I’ll be touching more on the importance of outdoor play and why it’s okay to let your kid play in the dirt later this week, but for now if you’re one of the parents who find park trips stressful, you’re not alone! We will conquer our parenting anxiety together!