5 Types of Portland Splash Pad Moms


We don’t live near an outdoor community pool (and swimming inside feels offensive to the season), we’ve become familiar with the local park’s splash pad. My kids enjoy having the option of playing in the water or playing on the playground, and I enjoy sitting in one spot while they move from one location to the other. During my time spent at the splash pad, I’ve identified five types of Portland moms in attendance there.

splash pad moms

1. The Shade Mom

Shade Mom got to the splash pad fifteen minutes before the water turned on. She found her spot underneath a tree and rotates her chair to follow the shade as the sun moves. There’s at least ten minutes of prep work to be done before her kids are allowed to play. Hats donned, long-sleeved rash guards tugged into place, and a thick layer of chemical-free sunscreen is applied to all necks, foreheads, and noses. Additional layers are applied every forty minutes.

2. The Sun Mom

Sun Mom isn’t coming out to play until at least noon. Her kiddos jump out of the car shirtless and shoeless, and she finds a spot where she can get the most direct sunlight. Her earbuds go in, and Sun Mom has left the park and is currently laying out on a beach in Hawaii. At some point, Sun Mom will remember to put sunscreen on her kiddos, but will then also remember she left in in the trunk of the car. Oh well. We live in Portland and can all use a little extra vitamin D, right?

3. The Car Mom

Car Mom is easy to miss. She flies under the radar, and, unless you’ve been her at some point, you likely didn’t know she exists. Her kids are a bit older and she milks that fact for all it’s worth. They wanted to go to the park, but she wanted to stay home and watch last night’s “Bachelor in Paradise” while folding the mountain of laundry waiting for her on the couch. Car Mom’s been doing this parenting thing for a while now, and she understands the value of compromise. She finds a parking spot with a direct view of the splash pad and playground and sends the kids out to burn off as much energy as possible. As she watches them run towards the fountain, Car Mom cranks the AC and clicks the ABC app on her phone. I see you, Car Mom. You enjoy that episode!

4. The Under-Prepared Mom

This mom desperately needed to get her kids out of the house. The lack of routine has finally sent her over the edge, and she’s holding on for dear life until school starts again. Around 10:30 a.m. she yells, “Get in the car, we’re going to the park!!” One kid has two different shoes on and the other is still in their jammies, but whatever. On the drive to the park, Under-Prepared Mom is feeling a bit better. She could have hidden out in her bathroom and kept the TV on all day, but she chose instead to take the kids outside, and that’s a win. She pats herself on the back as she pulls into the park and remembers the splash pad is on. Does she play the, “we’re not here for the water, kids; just the playground” card, or does she lean into reality and embrace the fact they’re out of the house and going to get wet anyways because that’s what kids do when it’s hot and there’s water nearby? Come join me on my blanket, Under-Prepared Mama. You deserve this break.

5. The Overly-Prepared Mom

Overly-Prepared Mom is the most fun to watch. She’s had “Go to splash pad” on her calendar for weeks now. She packed and prepped the night before, and her Trader Joe’s snacks are in a cooler, not a backpack. Each of her kiddos have their own water bottle, matching towel, and each set is laying nicely under the pop-up tent she’s been wrestling to put together for the past fifteen minutes. It took Overly-Prepared Mom three trips to the car to get all the things she needed for the next two hours. She’s got extra clothes, a Costco pack of wipes, scooters, helmets, and a Pack ‘n Play. But when my kid gets stung by a bee or hit in the face with the swing, and I need a first aid kit – you’d better believe I’m heading to Overly-Prepared Mom’s compound!

I miss a good outdoor pool, but an hour or two at the splash pad is a nice option on a hot day. You’ll find me somewhere between Sun Mom and Under-Prepared Mom, depending on how much sleep I got the night before or how crazy my kids are making me. What kind of Portland splash pad mom are you?

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Amber is wife to her elementary school crush and mother to three kiddos, ages 10, 7, and 4. Having recently moved to Portland from California, Amber is embracing her “new normal” as she navigates parks in the rain (bring a towel), the line outside Pip’s Donuts (it’s worth it), and where to find good Mexican food (still searching). As bio mom to her two oldest and adoptive mom to her youngest, special needs child, Amber understands and appreciates the importance of “mommy-time." Amber is also a grad student and soon-to-be Marriage, Couple, and Family Therapist. She shares the highlights and gems of what she's learning on her Instagram: @learnandliveproject.


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