When my kids were younger, we did not have a lot of money. We were living on one income so I could stay home with our babies. We knew this would come with sacrifices. One of the things we had to give up was expensive extracurricular activities. We wanted to keep our kids active, healthy, and engaged, so we turned to playground sports. I honestly never saw myself as a playground Mom. I envisioned more of a music, dance, and gymnastics mom if I am being honest. Budget constraints kept those desires at bay.
The playground offered us extracurricular activities for our kids at an affordable price.
For only $25 dollars (a sport) my kids could play a multitude of sports and gain skills in many different areas. When they were very young, we put them in everything the playground offered. T-Ball, Bounce Ball, Basketball, and Soccer were the favorites. We all know the benefits of being on a team and staying active. Playing sports kept the kids active and happy but being part of the local playground had many more unexpected benefits.
We got to know our neighbors and neighborhood kids.
The kids began to play with the other neighborhood kids and have spent many long evenings outside. We know the people standing next to us at the checkout line in the grocery store, we pass by homes and wave and smile and sometimes even stop to catch up. It has made or small community even smaller and more accessible. There is something comforting about knowing the people in your neighborhood. My daughter has been playing with the same girls on her T-ball turned softball team since she was 6. We have watched them improve in their game and grow in their friendships.
Unfortunately, playgrounds are dying.
Travel teams have taken over. The older your kids get, the harder putting together playground teams becomes. My two older kids developed a passion for Softball and Soccer. It became clear that for them truly improve and be their best, we to would need to join travel teams, and we did. However, we still make our kids play playground ball. They must pick one sport to participate in at the local playground every year. It is good for them to play with other children in our immediate community. It is good for them to not always play against or with “the best” but to realize it can just be fun and relaxed, dare I say it, It is just a game! Travel sports are competitive, but there is something laid back and easy going about a ballgame at the local playground. There is something special about them playing with the same kids they have been with since T-Ball.
There will always be families like us, who need and desire the benefits of sports without being able to afford the cost of travel ball. There will always be kids who just want to play for fun and not competitively. Those kids and families deserve a place to play. I find it is the best way to get to know the people in your neighborhood. In our high-tech fast-paced world, the playground slows us all down just a little bit. It brings people together.