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Public Park Sandboxes

Mommy Dearest: I Forbid My Son From the Sandbox

Mommy Dearest,

I live in NYC where the neighborhood playground is part of my family's daily routine. I've gotten over my fear of germs on the jungle gym and swing equipment, but the sandbox is a whole other story. Convinced that rodents and insects visit the sandbox during the night and leave their excrement behind, I've forbidden my three-year-old son from playing in it. His father, grandparents and nanny know my fears, but the other day his caretaker allowed him to play in it with his friends. When I stopped by for a visit and told him to get out, it caused a big scene.  How should I handle this situation without the daily fuss?

— No Sandbox for My Son

To see the response from Mommy Dearest,


No Sandbox for My Son,

Every mother has the right to make choices and set rules when it comes to her child's well-being.  And, those wishes should be respected by your son's caretakers. Young kids are very tactile in their learning so the sandbox, especially when it is filled with one's friends, may be very tempting. Since your boy has so many years at the park in front of him, you need to decide if your fear of filthy sentiment is worth the daily battles.

— Mommy Dearest


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Join The Conversation
masoyo masoyo 8 years
I really appreciate the concern she has for her son..It 's her responsibility to take care of his son's health..And moreover it's one thing that small kids can hardly resist sand..i have cousins who are still very young and they can't resist to play with sand if they have a chance to play with THE SAND..So I'll suggest to let the son play with the sand ..what do you say?
logab logab 8 years
i cant believe how many mothers are against this mom and calling her crazy!!! build his immune system? does that mean i should let my son play in the trash? oh and fire that nanny because what else do you tell her regarding your son does she feel is not important?
MissSushi MissSushi 8 years
Okay first of all, you state that your nanny knows that they arent allowed in there, but let him anyway. Problem number 1, your nanny is undermining your rules and decisions, and doing whatever she wants and possibly whatever is "easiest" regarding your son. You might want to look into alternate childcare. You want someone who is going to abide by your rules and how you want to parent your kids, NOT the other way around. Secondly, we are talking poop and pee here of large domestic animals here, not bugs. Worrying about bugs peeing places is pretty paranoid, but cats pee and poop in these things if they are uncovered constantly... they are large, square and filled with sand, pretty much a cats biggest dream. While i dont think playing in "most" sandboxes is a big deal, im pretty liberal when it comes to getting dirty, if the sand box is overly urine reeking and filled with unidentifable things, then its absolutely fine to skip it. Comparing it to the ocean is ridiculous and kind of a waste of the time it took to type it. The more accurate comparison would be a sewer or a hole filled with mud and liquid because a sewer line burst.. Not every sand box is cleaned, ive seen my share of filthy ones, and ive seen my share of fine ones. You can call all you want about having them cleaned, but it doenst mean they are going to be done with any regularity or any time soon. My advice - if it looks clean, let him go at it. If it looks dirty, exercise your absolute right to tell him to play wiht something else.
momma-tikita momma-tikita 8 years
Just so you guys know...the sand in the sandboxes in NYC never get changed. It was actually on the news a while ago! They said that we (mothers) should never take their shoes off if they go in there. They could get mad germs and parasites like someone else said up there. Kinda gross...I hardly put them in there but when I do the shoes stay on!
Smacks83 Smacks83 8 years
How did you react (to the poster) when you saw your kid in the sandbox that "caused a big scene"? I understand if you don't want your kid going somewhere specific (I mean he is YOUR kid afterall) but maybe you shouldn't fly off the handle like that because you may not survive his teenage years.
RoaringSilence RoaringSilence 8 years
I am pretty sure letting your kid play in the sandbox is good for his immune system. Kids who are raised in a completely sterile environment are much more likely to be sensitive to colds, allergies, and.. pretty much everything else.
rgrl rgrl 8 years
We rotate playgrounds we go to and the one with the dirty sandbox, has other many fun things to do. I don't think it's cruel at all to tell your kid to find something else to do. Kids sometimes are ok with their parents telling them things. If my son seemed to really want to go in and kids were all having a fun time in there, I might let him go in and give him a good scrub afterwards.
rgrl rgrl 8 years
Ummm, the beach and the ocean are a completely different situation.
domino2728 domino2728 8 years
If you don't want him to play in the sand, don't take him to a park with a sand box. That is kind of cruel. Bring along some hand sanitizer and some wet ones and wash his hands when he is done playing. Are you going to prohibit him from going to the beach or playing in the ocean?
cheersdarlin916 cheersdarlin916 8 years
If a city sandbox smells like a toliet then call the city and have it taken care of. They do clean them least in our city they do.
rgrl rgrl 8 years
Oh, and I let my son go barefoot outside and pick up bugs and caterpillars. Everyone has a grossness threshold.
rgrl rgrl 8 years
I am not at all obsessed with germs or cleanliness but you guys must have never smelled a sandbox like the one I'm referring to in my earlier comment. I've been to places with open sandboxes and if they don't smell I have no issue. But if it smells like a potty, I don't really want my kid playing in there. So I kind of see this mom's point of view.
luckyme luckyme 8 years
Oh, and what about the germs being transferred from the sandbox to the playground equipment by the kids that were playing in the sandbox. Something tells me they're not washing their hands with every change of activity. Trust me, I get the whole anti-germ thing. I was like that. Once you have a kid, though - and especially a toddler- you've got to let it go for the sake of your own sanity.
luckyme luckyme 8 years
I'm gonna go with everyone else on this one - LET HIM PLAY IN THE SAND! Also, and I'm making an assumption here, but being that he is 3, I'm guessing he's potty trained or in the throws of potty training, so, do you allow him to use bathrooms? Either public or elsewhere? I'm sure your own potty room is bleached into oblivion, but how about in other people's homes? Who knows what kind of germs are floating around in those excremental cesspools. You may just want to put him in a bubble and stay home.
snarkypants snarkypants 8 years
you crazy.
cheersdarlin916 cheersdarlin916 8 years
I agree with skigurl...get over yourself. Kids play in dirt and they love it. Did you know that you should change pillows every 6 months because of the excrement's of bed bugs. And that is what your child places his head on every night. You need to let you son enjoy play time and the sand box. Make your own mind up but please realize that thousands of children....including YOU, I am sure, have played in sand boxes and have lived to tell about it.
Chrstne Chrstne 8 years
Let them go in the sandbox and give 'em a good wash when you come home. Kids are going to get sick and get into disgusting things. A sandbox should be the least of your worries.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
I am sure if you really knew how much insect carcasses and rat droppings the FDA allows in our food, or what tiny things live all over your body, or even how good it is to be exposed to dirt, you wouldnt be freaking out over this....its really nothing and you are depriving your child of good fun.
skigurl skigurl 8 years
yah i'm sure its dirty but you might be being a little over protective my advice: get over yourself
rgrl rgrl 8 years
It's true that animals use them as their own potty. We go to one playground where the sandbox smells like urine and poop and I usually tell my son to stay out also. He has gone in and played with some of the trucks, but I kept an eye on him and he luckily never sat in the sand or touched it. It's a tricky situation. We keep ours at home covered when we don't use it.
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