When weighing the pros and cons of yet another costly summer activity, we as adults tend to focus on the mature things. How much is this gonna cost? Can I get the time off work? Is it educational for the kids? Will this provide too much structure, not enough structure, build relationships, promote independence, increase physical exercise, allow for creativity, encourage teamwork, stimulate without over-stimulating, etc., etc., etc.
But, what if we were to take a minute and allow ourselves to be immature…. Just for a moment. If we were to look deep down into the darkest crevices of our souls, we’d all come to the same conclusion.
Amusement parks are for adults, not kids.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at my top 10 reasons why YOU should go to an amusement park this summer and tell me this doesn’t sound like perfection?
10) Mandated weight loss-
Over this past weekend, my husband and I took our family to Kennywood, our local Pittsburgh amusement park. After realizing it would be nuts to wrangle 4 kids alone, we invited two more. And then we recruited husband’s mother and brother for help so that we returned home with the same number of kids that we left with. Not only did we sweat profusely in the 95 degree weather, but we walked a total of 9 miles each throughout the course of our 8-hour day.
We know this because 1) or clothes were drenched well before we ever hit the first water ride, and 2) my husband kept track of our steps with the handy-dandy step tracker on his iphone. Add in pushing two strollers loaded up with supplies, diaper bags, water bottles, umbrellas, towels, snacks, and two large toddlers, and I’m pretty sure we burned at least 73,000 calories each. Pretty sure.
9) Delayed gratification-
We all want our kids to let go of the “Microwave Mentality”, don’t we? Many of the best things in life require time, energy, diligence. Very few things of worth are just granted to us with a simple push of a button on a tablet or by sending a text. What better way to teach our kids the importance of delayed gratification than having them stand in an amusement park line?
Want to buy a ticket? Get in line. Need a frozen lemonade? Take a number. Have to ride the fastest roller coaster in the park? That’ll be an hour… at least. Your child will walk away from this experience far more patient than they came. Either that or they will realize that some things are worth the wait while other things can be skipped without the world coming to a crashing halt. Either way, you win.
8) The Law of Natural Consequences-
Another fantastic lesson that an amusement park will teach your children for you is to listen to their mother. How many times, Moms, do we say the same things over and over ad nauseum, only to be ignored? Let your local thrill joint take the pressure off. Say it once and let the Law of Natural Consequences take over. Wear comfortable shoes, not pretty ones. Pee now because we won’t be hiking to another bathroom in 10 minutes for you. Carry your water bottle with you at all times. Space out the spinny rides!
Any of these sound familiar? If you’re anything like me, you’ve said these things a million times on a million different trips and your children continue to think you’re joking or something. But amusement parks are a great place to (pardon the overused phrase) let it go. Say it once and move on, Mamas. Blisters? Exploding bladders? Thirsty? Going to puke? Tell it to the Ticketmaster, kiddos, because Mama can’t hear you over the noise of the coasters, music, and the joy of natural consequences screaming “I told you so!”
7) You will feel better about your parenting-
This will happen, not because you’ve done such a remarkable job throughout those long winter months, but because of probablity. Statistically speaking, the odds of your child being the worst kid at the park are far less than when you make your usual Walmart run. In a sea of thousands of children, there’s even a decent chance that your kid will come out looking like an honorary saint, even after he races from his seat on the ride and pushes the big, red start button with his chubby little hand. Sure, the staff will scream and parents will run to save their children from impending doom….
But in 10 minutes, some other knuckleheaded child will do something even dumber, leaving you to look like an amazing parent. (Despite the 5 minute tantrum your child threw after being removed from the ride for his unsavory actions…. True story.)
6) Your children will grow closer to God-
Want your son or daughter to be more God-fearing? Let them face the possibility of death as they mount that first roller coaster hill. The “I’m gonna die!” and “Oh, dear GOD!!” phrases will pour forth like wild fire from their little lips. Prayers and promises to never lie again should all be recorded, so keep your phones handy on all rides.
5) Positive peer pressure-
Do you have a particularly wussy kid? Yeah, me too. Amusement parks allow a parent to let peer pressure work in their favor for once. Naturally there will always be those thrill-seekers that want to ride the biggest coaster- no screaming, eyes open, arms in the air. Will they poke fun at your weakling for peeing their pants a little while waiting in line? May they throw out names like “Sissy” and “Nancy Pants” to your kid? Is there a possibility that your child will ride the scariest coaster on the planet (or the Tilt-o-Whirl, whatever) and still come off hating coasters? Yep.
But there’s also the possibility that your wimpy child may face his fears and find that they actually like the ride! Even more possible is that they will enjoy telling everyone for the next 3 years about the time that they rode the biggest coaster in the world and how they lived to tell about it. War stories aren’t just for veterans, people.
4) Your kids will finally understand what your pregnancy was like-
When your precious little monster acts like a colossal brat, the first thing you want to tell them is just how long you carried them in your womb, what they did to your body, how you never ever slept again, and that you brought them into this world and have no problem taking them right back out! Mamas, let me introduce you to the world of Spinny Rides. Send your little nugget of joy on three spinnies in a row. (Just three now, no need to hospitalize the kid or anything.) And as they begin to turn green, ask them to remember this moment.
Remember the nausea, remember the dizziness, remember the need to lie down and close your eyes to stop the world from spinning. Feel like you’re going to die, sweetheart? Well, THAT is what I went through for 9 month!. Remember THAT the next time you want to throw a tantrum in the middle of Applebees, darling. They will have a new appreciation for the sacrifice that you made for them. They may even rise up and call you blessed.
3) Teach them the value of money-
How many times do you walk through the store and get pestered incessantly about making extra purchases? You’ve heard how they neeeeeed Twinkies for their lunch boxes and how they have to have the Timberlands just like everyone else in their class. I can solve this problem for you within the first 20 minutes of being at the park. Tell your children that all of their meals and drinks have been packed for them because you are, in fact, a loving and organized mother.
And then tell them that you’ve brought their weekly allowance for them to use in the park if they feel they have to have extras. And then lay the final blow. Repeat these words verbatim to your children. I have left my wallet and all monetary devices in the car.
There will definitely be gasps. There will probably be fainting. Some may require use of their inhalers. Do not panic. The over-priced snacks and ridiculously expensive arcades will be all your child needs to remind them that no one has ever, in fact, neeeeded a Twinky.
2) You’re allowed to laugh at your kids-
Oh, but I could never! Yes. Yes you can. When your child is rubber-necking and taking it all in, causing him to walk straight into a large woman with bountiful cleavage, you most certainly are allowed to laugh. When your daughter death grips your arm on a KiddieLand roller coaster, you will and must laugh. When your toddler is rendered immobile as Dumbo flies from 1 foot off the ground to 2, you will giggle as tears stream down your face. Hey, you may even find yourself rocking the Ferris wheel cage a little, just to give yourself one more chuckle at your child’s expense before calling it a day.
1) They will sleep like logs-
There is literally nothing like a day of terror and over-stimulation to knock out even the biggest insomniac. After crashing from sugar rushes, coming off of coaster highs, and walking half a marathon, it is likely that your son or daughter will sleep the following morning away. You may feel the urge to check on them, just to make sure they’re fine. But trust me, Mama…. They’re good. They’re more than good. Because they got to spend an entire day with you – laughing, learning valuable lessons, and getting in some quality family time. Let this peaceful moment wash over you before they wake up and find something to complain about.
Why should you go to an amusement park this summer? Because You need to. There’s gonna be screaming and laughing and messes and lost sunglasses/hats/keys/phones. There will be junk food and incorrect head counts, chaos and missed naptimes. And it will be the best memory you have for years to come.