Lesson from the Playground

The mild winter had seemingly slipped right into summer and the energy in New York City was buzzing. I am not one to let such a gem of day slip by and so I made my way to Central Park to soak it in. As I strolled, sipping my first iced coffee of the season, I heard one of my favorite sounds: laughter. I immediately connected with the lil’ giggles and yelps of excitement coming from the 72nd Street playground-music to my ears. I paused happily and then began to take in all that was going on: kids running, squealing, crying, laughing, shouting. I, of course, also began to observe how their childcare providers were participating and responding to the excitement.

Here are my top 5 observations:

1. Most Remarkable: On the cusp of nap time, a young boy was crying uncontrollably as he sat in his stroller. His caretaker tried distracting him with toys, peek-a-boo, careful whispers of reassurance. Finally, the patient and poised caretaker simply picked him up and gently rocked him. It really showed that sometimes the only solution is to hold a child and let them know he or she is loved. This nanny did an excellent job and I commended her for it.

2. Most Frustrating: It was hard for me to watch childcare providers holding their phone with one hand and pushing the stroller with the other. I have tried to answer my phone when pushing a stroller, but it is challenging! I also observed a great solution: a headset, one ear piece in, for those long walks in the park-a safer and more responsible method of placing those quick calls.

3. Cutest Sibling Act: After she was refused another piece of candy, a four-year girl began to throw a fit in front of her childcare provider and older brother. The childcare provider tried to calm her down by suggesting she come play, but her mood did not change-in steps big bro. He put his hand around his sister and suggested they play on the slide. He pumped up the alternative option to make it sound super cool. She immediately got excited; he took her hand and led her to the slide with the childcare provider following in tow. Adorable.

4. Common Theme: Kids love to be independent. I always tell my sitters that it is essential to acknowledge this, but never allow a child to wander from their sight. I liked seeing childcare providers step in, helping a child across monkey bars or down the slide. However, I also saw that many stepped aside when their lil’ one met a friend, allowing the two of them to become acquainted. One childcare provider was quite attentive to the lil’ girl she was with-always at her side as she climbed up to the slide, but stepped out when the lil’ girl met a friend .The childcare provider was always in eye sight in case she needed her.

5. Turn a negative into a positive: I always suggest to my sitters that if a child ever shows the beginning stages of a meltdown, the best approach is distraction. I observed that most childcare providers were doing just that. I sited one particular sitter who decided to jump in when the boy she was caring for began to argue with his friend over whose turn it was to ride the scooter: “why don’t we use my stop watch and take shifts of five minutes each; I will be the buzzer,” she cleverly said! She went on making buzzer sounds and tickling the kids, turning it into a game that the boys loved. Creative and cool!

The park makes for a very public display of actions and emotions, and on that beautiful New York day, I observed energy at its peak and sitters and nannies on their toes. The creative solutions and ideas that were presented on that rubberized pavement had me running home to share with all my sitters!

Lindsay Bell is the co-founder of Lucky Lil’ Darlings (LLD), an elite family care solutions company providing corporate and family focused babysitting, parent-centric events and inspiring commentary on child care, kids and family focused products. Prior to launching LLD, Lindsay worked in communications for the Radio City Rockettes and as a Marketing Manager for boutique marketing and PR agencies in NYC. For more information on Lindsay and LLD visit www.luckylildarlings.com or follow Lindsay on Twitter @LindsayBellNYC

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One thought on “Lesson from the Playground

  1. Love this blog already. I adore that you spent time watching not just the children and the playground but the caretakers! I find that, as parents, we spend so much time teaching ourselves how to watch our kids, distract them when needed, what to do when a meltdown occurs…and yet, while we may give basic instructions, we may not spend as much time and effort helping our caretakers learn the same tips and tricks. I think this blog shows how many caretakers do their own training, it seems, and do so many things that we parents would not only approve of but would want to mimic. Thank you!

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