The 12 Parents You’ll Meet at the Playground

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Whether you’re new to parenting, or just new to town, one thing’s for certain: you need to find your tribe, and you need to find it fast. If you’re shopping the slides for someone with a little crazy to balance your calm, or if you’re milling around the monkey bars for a pal who can give you the inside scoop on every preschool’s behavioral qualifications, we’ve got you covered. Read on for a crib sheet that will make finding your perfect parenting companion as easy as a playdate in the park.

19089502763_d8d4fe9550_zphoto: Parker Knight via flickr

The Panic Parent: Everything is a fire drill. The swings are squeaky? Fast, scale the pole and secure the bolts! Janie fell down? Get the first aid kit from the car, stat! Timmy needs to tinkle? Quick! Pack up everything and make a dash for the car! But, she’s the one you turn to when Junior takes a hit, so thank goodness someone was a Girl Scout.

15846463093_dea6664003_kphoto: Donnie Ray Jones via flickr 

The Honest Parent: “I stepped on my two year old’s fingers today and forgot to pack my first grader’s lunch—for the second time this week.” If you need a dose of honest, fresh, life-with-kids reality, head to the playground. There’s bound to be a parent there who’s ready to air a little laundry and make you feel right at home.

2287585602_ee50837556_zphoto: Jason Lander via flickr 

The Choices Parent: “I see you’ve made a bad choice, dear. Would you like me to talk with you about your options?” or “Would you prefer to eat first or play first, pumpkin?” Everything. Is. A. Choice. But, this pal has read way more parenting psychology articles than you, so she’s an excellent resource.

19521801340_5dd8efe4e4_zphoto: Parker Knight via flickr

The Appropriate Play Parent: This one is looking after the interest of her kiddo’s future applications to private preschools, (who can blame her?) and is taking every opportunity to encourage developmentally-appropriate play for Junior. The Appropriate Play Parent is often identified by his or her back to back playdates at the park.

10633219433_60d162c620_ophoto: Eden, Janine and Jim via flickr

The Just Get Me Some Fresh Air Parent: She’s been cooped up with one kid or another for over a week because of allergies, a cold, or another kid plague, and while she seems to be engaging in dialogue, she’s really just in shock from all the Vitamin D exposure.

socialbutterfly_dutchmansvh_flickr_playgroundparents_redtricyclephoto: Ducthman_svh via flickr 

The Social Butterfly: She flits between mommy meet-ups with ease, often peppering her schedule with volunteer obligations—that she’s in charge of, no doubt—while donning appropriate attire for seamless transitions throughout the day. This mom can plug you in faster than an electrician can change a lightbulb, if that’s something you need.

3471287116_0f5556aafa_ophoto: popofatticus via flickr

The Put Together Parent: He always looks like he’s ready to interview, and yet he’s still comfortable with sticky hands, bloody knees, and dirty diapers. The female version of The Put Together Parent is likely rocking a killer pair of wedges, because like the parent herself, a wedge is dressy, polished, and versatile. You just wish you could get out of your yoga pants.

6162410100_8f7270c873_ophoto: SCA Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget via flickr 

The Swiss Army Knife Parent: Scraped knee? This parent has a squirt gun of hydrogen peroxide holstered to his side. Colossal blowout? How about extra wipes, a pair of shorts to borrow, and moisturizing hand sanitizer? Thirsty toddler three minutes after arriving at the playground? Juice box. Boom. Just like that—this parent’s got you covered.

playgroundpolice_scottsherillmix_flickr_playgroundparents_redtricyclephoto: Scott Sherill-Mix via flickr

The Playground Police: She means well, but “did you know your kid is on the slide by himself?” And while you may take a deep breath the moment your kiddos run joyously to the playground, The Playground Police parent goes on high alert.

5895260024_152ddfd8f5_zphoto: Appalachia Service Project via flickr

The Play in the Dirt Parent: Her kids may eat, play, and roll dirt in the dirt, but dirt don’t hurt, right?Or, perhaps you hear this parent say that her kid never get sick because she doesn’t use antibacterial anything… and then you see that kid vomit in the bushes.

14580904808_ef2dabb32f_zphoto: Dana Jackson via flickr

The Tech-Savvy Parent: Outfitted with the latest gadgets and gear, this parent makes modern technology look so easy while you just wish you could figure out how to upgrade your iPhone without losing all your photos.

15457856250_f192dc157c_zphoto: Donnie Ray Jones via flickr

The Perfect Match: You may have thought sixth grade was a tough year for making new friends until you became a parent and realized that it would all just be so much easier if you had some people. You know—your people—whoever they may be. But guess what? Your people are likely at the playground too, just looking for you.

Who did we miss? Tell us about your favorite playground parents in the comments section below!

—Shelley Massey