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My advice for new moms: Find ‘your’ playground

The stroller is loaded down with snacks, blankets, diapers, sand toys and two kids as we walk the familiar route to the playground. We wave to our neighbor who always seems to synchronize the watering of her flowers with our journey down the street. We stay on the lookout for the roaming group of deer so my toddler can enthusiastically say his hellos.

We talk and laugh and observe.... and nine minutes after leaving our home, we are there: The playground that we know as well as our own backyard.

This playground has served us so well from the days of "playdates" with other baby friends—which consisted of little more than sitting on blankets in the sunshine while bouncing the babes on our laps—to these days where I'm chasing my toddler all around the park.

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It's far from the nicest or most modern playground around. But, just like a friend, we've come to love its idiosyncrasies...

The way the yellow paint is rubbed off the ladder rungs…

The unruly bump on one slide that seems to pop unsuspecting kids up into the air…

The "porthole" that's become clouded over with years of exposure to the elements, but is still a favorite…

The swing set with gaps where the baby swings are supposed to be...

The precarious steps that still make me nervous when my son climbs down…

In many ways, this playground has been just as effective a measure of my children's growth as any scale. I will always remember the first time my son got the confidence to go down the slide or climbed the ladder on his own or was finally able to get up on the back of the play dinosaur without a boost.

While these things will forever stay the same (if the years without updates are any indication), it is also evidence that my children won't.

Someday soon enough, they will lose interest in the slides and outgrow the swings. Our walks down to the playground will be replaced by soccer practices or bike rides around the neighborhood. And, eventually, I'll drive past it and see tired young moms with their energetic young kids. Perhaps then I'll wonder how the time went so quickly—and whether those ladder rungs were ever repainted.

Until then, I take no shame in laying claim to this playground. Our time there may be predictable—start with the slides, then the monkey bars and then all of two seconds on the swings—but it's also reliable. I know that if I can just get us out the front door and down to the playground, moods will be improved. (Mine most definitely included.)

By the end of our play, as I brace myself for the 11-minute hike uphill, it isn't too hard to convince my son to hop back in the stroller. We all know we'll be back soon enough. And, for now, there's comfort in that.

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As a mom of three, I frequently get a question from moms and dads of two children: “Ok, so the jump to three...how bad is it?"

Personally, I found the transition to having even one kid to be the most jarring. Who is this little person who cries nonstop (mine had colic) and has no regard for when I feel like sitting/eating/resting/sleeping?

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