22 playgrounds. TWENTY-TWO. In my little town of Mundelein, Illinois. I have been to only a handful of them, and I have lived here for over 15 years. What a shame! My lack of playground visits recently became my mission: to visit all of 22 of them. In one day. Why? Why not, I say. I made my playground crawl.
Plan a Playground Crawl
Sense of Urgency
It became an urgent matter when I heard my co-worker say, “My kids are too old to go to the park,” and her son was 11! I didn’t think that could ever happen. I’m 38, and I still like going to the park! But I was worried my 10, and 5-year old sons wouldn’t enjoy it as much as they did now. So the week before school started, there was a day with the weather forecast of “abundant sunshine” calling our name.
Make a Map
I mapped out all 22 Mundelein playgrounds in order of what made sense for traveling. I didn’t want to waste time driving back-and-forth all over town. The first 18 we’d travel to by car. For the last 4, we’d head home and bike. We’ll stop for bathrooms, snacks, and lunch as necessary. Don’t forget the camera….and we’re off!
Here is a map of Mundelein. I cross-referenced the parks with ones with actual playgrounds (the following page is in our park district book). TIP: To find the map of your town, search for “town name + parks.” Be sure to filter to include only the ones with playgrounds: a park is a piece of public land, which is beautiful, but not all parks have playgrounds.
Adding to the List
Public schools have playgrounds too, but those aren’t usually Park District maintained, so I didn’t include them in my playground crawl. But you can add them in if you’re trying to find some additional places to visit in your town. TIP: If you’re including school playgrounds, make sure the school isn’t in session to make the most of your visit.
The Adventure Begins
We only spent 10-15 minutes at each park, but that was plenty! Visiting all 22 parks took us just over 6 hours. The kids knew we were trying to visit all of them in one day, so they were happy to leave and head to the next park and see what new activities awaited them. We had most parks to ourselves and found some really cool hidden treasures in our town, just a few blocks away. We’d just never bothered to be adventurous.
You can be adventurous in your town too. And it doesn’t cost a cent (well, maybe a gallon of gasoline). But it’s flexible, inexpensive, and you’re close to home just in case you have a toddler in tow that ends up needing to nap.
Now when we head to baseball practice or a new friend’s house across town, my children bring up, “I remember that playground, that one has the dinosaur ladder.” I think those memories will be special to all three of us for a lifetime.
Life shouldn’t be lived; it should be celebrated! What is the most creative thing you have done to celebrate life’s little moments?