Mom's Parking Lot Parenting Hack Is Ideal For Burning Weekend Energy

Finding new ways to entertain your kids can be challenging. They don’t have big attention spans, but they do have limitless energy. Well, one mom on TikTok has a weekend tradition with her family that is, honestly, kind of brilliant in its simplicity — and something you may even remember your mom doing with you as a kid.

“I have another parenting hack for you guys,” starts Brittney March (@thatmindfulmama). “Find yourself a big empty parking lot on the weekends. We’re at a big corporate parking lot. Your kids can just ride their bikes, ride their scooters free reign. You can relax because you don’t have to worry about traffic.”

As she explains, it’s a pretty easy and ideal scenario for moms and kiddos: “They feel like they’re independent because they can go far away, and you don’t have to worry about them. You can walk around, get your steps in, while they ride around. It’s perfect.”

If you have the room in your vehicle, drag along a bike or two, the wagon, and anything else that requires more room than you have in your neighborhood or apartment complex. Sure, kids love grass, and sticking your feet in the sand, dirt, or grass is literally good for you. But don’t underestimate the power of a huge plot of concrete or blacktop, either! Not everyone has a paved driveway area or a house-adjacent street where kids can bike and skate.

Any outside play is important. Just like that freeing feeling of an open road at the beginning of a road trip, kids can see an empty parking lot as the same open adventure. The possibilities are as limitless as their energy. And, with the right amount of wild and potentially unstructured play, you may set yourself up for an early bedtime when they’ve tuckered themselves out properly.

Need ideas for games and activities? Try:

  • Parking curb balance challenges
  • Races (on feet or wheels)
  • Setting up “obstacle courses” with curbs (don’t move them) and hula hoops.
  • Red Light, Green Light
  • Follow the Leader
  • Practice “driving” on bikes and teach biking rules

A crucial disclosure kicks in here: Many parking lots are private property. Trespassing is illegal, so you’ll want to find a parking lot that is either public or owned by someone you can get approval from before heading out. Great ideas are civic centers, government buildings, churches, and schools.

Once you’ve gotten the go-ahead, just remember to follow any posted rules. If the sign says no skateboarding on the premises, leave the skateboards in the car or at home. Don’t leave your mark, permanent or not — a big open parking lot might seem like it’s begging for sidewalk chalk, but not everyone finds your kid’s artwork as endearing as you.

In response to March’s video, some commenters shared fond memories of parking-lot play from growing up.

“My mom did this when I was a child in the ‘80s. I learned how to ride a bike in the Chase Bank parking lot. Years later, I learned to drive there too,” said 4_Deep_2019.

“This is 100% what we did as kids. We rode down and jumped the bumps and thought we were so cool 😂,” said az28532.

Other parents shared some of their best parking lot spots.

“We go to the local college campus!”

“We go down to the basketball court, and I chill on the bench while they ride their bikes and collect pine cones.”

“We go to our church parking lot a block away a couple times a week!”

“Also…tennis courts are great for littles. I used to bring a chair and a book.

Finally, you know this, but it’s worth repeating: Nowhere is 100% safe, right? Make sure you’ve taught your kids to look out for cars, even in empty parking lots. You never know who might come rolling through! If you’re worried, you could invite another family along so you can park and block opposite ends of one parking aisle. This ought to give your kids a ton of free, safe-ish space to let your guard down for a bit.

Have fun!

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