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Both mothers and children learn life skills on playgrounds

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It’s hard for me to believe, but I am officially the mother of three teenagers. My triplet daughters turned 13 last month.

In many ways they’ve been on a fast track to "acting" more like teenagers for the past six months — but can someone please explain where the time went?

It doesn’t seem that long ago that I brought three healthy bundles home from the hospital and suddenly those bundles will be talking about learning to drive soon.  I remember those early days of parenting — wondering if I was doing OK, afraid I’d make a mistake. And although I cherished the time I was able to spend at home with my daughters when they were little, it was also very isolating at times.

Like many new moms, I surrounded myself with parenting books and advice from my pediatrician, but wisdom from other parents who had "been there, done that" was often of the most value. Frequently some of the best advice I got was from other parents I connected with at my local playground. In some cases we were facing the same challenges at the same times, other times I just needed another mom to tell me it would all turn out OK (yes, I’m talking about toilet training — and yes, most of them get there long before kindergarten).

Playgrounds are important to maintaining healthy communities. They provide a place for families to be active, for children to develop their social skills but also for parents to connect with other parents.

During the 2011 election campaign, I heard from many moms in Royalwood about the lack of nearby playgrounds. There are a couple of playgrounds north of John Bruce Road, but they’re a long walk for young children living in south Royalwood. It’s because of the advice of those moms on the doorstep that our government announced $100,000 for a new playground at the Bois-des-espirits Window Park in Royalwood. The location was chosen by people in Royalwood through an online survey conducted through my community office. The funding is being provided through the Building Manitoba Fund and the playground is expected to be built by spring 2014.

Kids learn valuable life lessons at playgrounds, and parents learn valuable lessons about kids. While I don’t spend as much time in playgrounds as I used to, I believe we all benefit from families coming together to build a stronger community.

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