Hidden Benefits

My latest life lesson comes courtesy of me sticking with one of my New Year’s resolutions for 2013. Unlike my previous resolutions, this particular resolution resulted in a twofold benefit.

What I discovered through one of my resolutions is my life lesson #197 – when setting goals, sometimes you find a hidden benefit when your resolutions aren’t self-focused.

Well, one month down and I’ve stuck with my resolution!! I, like thousands of people, looked to a new year to start with a clean slate. I see resolutions as times to review areas of our lives needing a little improvement, and a brand new year stands before me so I can make that improvement. It’s true that one really doesn’t need a new year to start anew, just a new day – but a brand, spanking new, bouncing baby year seems to hold more promises in store for building a “new me” than a single ol’ day.

So what was my miracle resolution for 2013? For 2013 I’d resolved to do my best to hit the playground EVERY weekend with my kids. Not only did I resolve to try to take them to the playground every weekend, but I resolved to leave the books, papers, magazines, journals, etc. at home, and the cell phone in the car, so that I would actually play with them while we were at the playground.

Hidden Benefits - Annie's Park

It’s been a year and a half since the kids and I moved to Maryland from New Jersey, and last year was spent getting situated in our new home. During the few times we went to the playground, I’d bring a blanket and either some work or a good read, and would make the most of my time, while the kids made the most of theirs. Oftentimes, they’d beg me to come play with them and I would – but only for a brief few minutes, before returning to my blanket. Now that we’ve finally settled into our new home, I resolved myself to giving them my undivided time and attention while at the playground.

The first weekend we hit a playground, we stayed for an hour – and we played tag that ENTIRE hour.

Within 20 minutes of both trying to catch my kids and trying to stay ahead of them, I realized that running over the rubber bits used as the playground’s ‘flooring,’ and trying to navigate playground equipment, was obstacle run training at its best! Oh my sweaty, heart-pumping cardio workout Batman!

At least I’m able to rest during actual mud runs! However, when on a playground being chased by kids – goodness, it was as if someone shoved red bull and pixie sticks into a couple of heat seeking missiles, and let them loose! I didn’t know if these were my kids or determined little pit bulls in disguise!

And if you’ve ever played with kids on a playground, you’ll know that oftentimes they have an uncanny ability to multiply. Children just want to play and have fun and chances are, if other children on a playground sense fun occurring, you’re pretty much guaranteed to hear, “Hey, can I play too?” Of course kids love making friends so it was pretty much a given that any kid who wanted into our game of tag met the application criteria for being included.

Because I pride myself on being an endurance athlete, I would not let myself be outdone by a bunch of sugared up heat seeking missiles on a playground. What’s that saying – ‘pride goeth before the cardiac arrest?’ Boy did that cause me to work HARD. Running over rubber tire bits was hard enough, but throw in playground jungle gyms that must be traversed and you have one heck of a mud run obstacle training course!

From cardio, to leg strength, to upper body strength – I had covered it all during the course of an afternoon of tag, in an outdoor ‘gym’ filled with sunshine and fresh air. I was winded AND I had such a fun time with my kids.

So my most recent resolution became my most recent life lesson. Until now, most of my resolutions that I can remember involved changes I’d make to my life to help improve it in some way. But through this “playground resolution,” I focused on my kids – and discovered a benefit (or two) in the process. Besides playground time inadvertently becoming some of my best mud run training sessions, it gives me a chance to bond with my kids.

Unlike my other workouts, I’m not sweating it out alone in front of some workout DVD playing in my living room; or teaching some fitness class while my kids sit in some babysitting room. Instead, I’m spending quality time with my kids. When we’re on the playground, my kids and their friends become my little personal trainers, pushing me to run hard, and navigate playground equipment with the type of speed and agility that would keep the game challenging, while keeping me from knocking myself out silly.

Better than any gym music piping over some PA are the sounds of laughter – both theirs and mine. And another awesome benefit – my kids are WORN OUT by the time we get home. No bickering, no constant asking mommy for something – just pure, unadulterated snoring. Score!!

So my latest life lesson enlightened me to the fact that when I’m not concentrating so hard on looking for those little changes that will make my life better, unexpected things fall into place that actually make my life better.


March 01, 2013 at 11:47 am

Hey! I recognize that playground, I think. It’s awesome. Glad you’re having fun 🙂

Sandy S

March 01, 2013 at 6:37 pm

Tracy, it’s Annie’s Playground in Fallston. I think it’s touted as the 2nd largest playground in the nation. If this is the same one you recognize, maybe the kids and I will see you out there one Sun. If you go, feel free to join our game of tag! 😉

Gen Matchette

March 02, 2013 at 8:29 am


I was cracking up reading your descriptions of your kids on the playground! We spent last weekend at Universal Studios w/ours, including chasing them through the roped play area at Islands of Adventure. Like you, we got a great workout!

Happy that your NR is working out so well!

Cheers, Gen =)

Cindi B

March 02, 2013 at 6:43 pm

Your story of playing tag at the playground reminded me of my own tag-you’re-it stories. My kids and their friends are nearly grown now, but reflecting back, I can still hear their childhood laughter. Thanks for making me smile. Stay strong in your 2013 resolutions!

Sandy S

March 03, 2013 at 5:30 am

Gen, lol now I’m cracking up at the fact that you can identify because I can just imagine the workout YOU received at universal! Isn’t it an amazing workout. That’s why I wrote this — to let those with kids know they have a great hidden resource. My girlfriend was nervous about having not gotten any running in, in preparation for some upcoming mud runs. I said, “um you have two little kids don’t you,” and soon she discovered the amazing workout for herself! 🙂 [p.s. i secretly think my kids are trying to kill me ;-P ]

Sandy S

March 03, 2013 at 5:32 am

Cindi, awe, you just made me smile. 🙂 The fact that the temps are warming up is making this resolution a LOT easier to keep.


March 04, 2013 at 10:06 am

This is an awesome idea for Moms! Though not a mom yet, I will definitely keep this in my when I do have the pitter patter of little feet running through the house! Thanks Sandy!!

Sandy S

March 04, 2013 at 6:16 pm

JB, you’re welcome! Figured I would share this hidden gem I discovered. In addition to a good workout for myself, I realized this past sunday, after some 12 yr old kid joined our game of tag, that it has actually benefited my kids as well, as my son was able to somewhat keep up with the older kid!

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