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4 Signs You're Not a First-Time Mom at the Playground

Photograph by Twenty20

The playground tends to be a hot spot for moms and kids because it’s generally easy and it’s hard to say no to free entertainment. Now that I have multiple children myself, I’ve made a little game of spotting other moms at the park that are clearly not at their first rodeo. These ladies have their park life down to a science!

Here are a few ways to spot those seasoned moms at the playground:

1. Their diaper bag isn’t big enough to carry a small Volkswagen in

It’s a freeing moment as a parent when you realize that you don’t need sunscreen, bug spray, Band-Aids, five different kinds of snacks, baby’s favorite stuffed animal and a fan just for a visit to the park. Once this realization happens, you might even be brave enough to not carry Mary Poppins' diaper bag and just have a small (maybe even stylish) purse containing a diaper, a few wipes and a pack of fruit snacks.

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2. They don’t hover over their child while they climb the playground

When I was a first-time mom, I remember leaving the playground feeling drained. I was behind, in front of, or to the side of my daughter the entire time. I was totally on duty to catch her from one step up so she didn’t have to fall into the wood chips (or, in my mind, to her death). Can you say "helicopter mom"? Also, I probably used the phrases “be careful” or “wait for Mommy” 1000 times in 30 minutes. I’ve noticed that seasoned moms tend to sit and observe on the bench and let the reasonable falls happen where they may.

A little dirt never hurt anyone.

3. Their baby eats a cracker off the ground and she doesn’t blink an eyeball

Snacks are often an essential part of playground playing and a cracker or Cheerio are bound to fall into the dirt or on the slide at some point. A veteran mom probably wouldn’t even notice that the cracker had fallen, but if she does, she either picks it up and wipes it on her pants and lets the kid eat it or simply lets the baby eat it straight from the ground. A little dirt never hurt anyone.

4. Multitasking while diaper changing is a must

Diaper changes are inevitable when you are out and about with the little ones, but there is a huge difference between the first-timers and seasoned moms. Those expert moms plop their kids down on the grass (no changing pad required), change the diaper with one hand, while opening a granola bar in the other and carry on a conversation all at the same time. The best part is, they do all three things successfully. It always impresses me.

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