culture shock

Mom Shares Video Of Spanish Playground Culture & America Could Never

Let’s just say — it’s a little more laid back.

Originally Published: 
A mom shared a video of what Spanish playgrounds are like and it's amazing.
TikTok / @_anagildersleeve

Social media has given users the opportunity to view different parentings styles all around the world, including countries like Denmark and Japan, where children have completely different childhoods than kids living in the United States.

On a recent trip back to Spain, TikTok mom, Ana Gildersleeve — who moved to America 10 years ago — visited with friends and had drinks with family all while her kids played on a nearby playground. That’s because, as Gildersleeve puts it, Spanish playground culture is “unmatched.”

As Gildersleeve pans the camera around the public park, her family (which includes older people, men, babies, and the like) enjoys a beautiful Spain evening, drinking beer and having conversation while children have a ball on a play structure a few yards away.

“POV: It’s a random Tuesday at 7 PM in Spain, the playground is full of kids, and parents have fun while the kids play,” Gildersleeve wrote in a text overlay on the video.

According to Gildersleeve, there is no need for the playground to be some stressful event where parents make awkward small talk and helicopter around their toddler determined to get hurt in some way.

Spanish playgrounds are for community and breaking bread and an opportunity for kids to get out those last few “zoomies” of the day while parents enjoy a little adult beverage and catch up with friends.

“Kids have fun, adults have fun, it’s a win win!” she captioned the video.

In another video, Gildersleeve explains that she left her home country of Spain 10 years ago and now lives in Kansas with her family. She explains some of the major differences in parenting she has noticed since moving.

In the video — which has amassed over 2.2 million views and over 370,000 likes — Gildersleeve says, “being a parent in the U.S. is way more boring and isolating than in Spain.”

“Someone told me, ‘I thought I was depressed, but I was just on the wrong country,’” she begins.

She then goes on to list several differences between parenting norms in the United States versus Spain that she believes make a different between a “boring” parent life and a more fulfilling one — including bedtimes, social activities, and playgrounds.

After having kids in America, she noticed that parents hold off on their “fun time” until the weekend, while Monday through Friday is dedicated to work and school. “Monday through Friday, most Americans do not socialize with other people,” she says.

“They go straight home after work or, if you’re a parent, after your kid’s activities. In general, Americans save social events for the weekends. They spend a lot of time in the house,” she says. “In Spain, we’re out all the time — Monday through Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” she continued. “When the kids are done with school, you go to the closest playground to the school and socialize with other parents.”

Hanging out with other parents at the playground is so common that most playgrounds in Spain have coffee shops or bars attached, so parents can enjoy a latte or glass of wine with other parents while their kids play.

“That’s, like, unthinkable in the U.S.,” she says.

She also notes that, in the United States, scheduling playdates weeks or sometimes months in advance with other parents is totally normal. However, in Spain, all you need to do is send a text asking if another parent was available and 20 minutes later, the kids are playing together.

The 28-year-old then explains that, while raising kids “takes a village,” American moms are without.

“I feel like most Americans don’t have a village at all. Moving around the country is pretty normal here, but in Spain most people live close to their families,” she said.

Gildersleeve also mentions that one of the biggest differences between Spaniards and American parents is the dedication to early bedtimes. “Parents stop what they are doing — even though they are having fun — because they need to put their kids to bed at 7 p.m.,” she says.

“If you see a kid awake past 8 p.m., it’s like ‘You’re a bad mom,’ but in Spain it doesn’t matter where you are. If you bring the stroller, the kid will fall asleep.”

She explains that American parents tend to revolve their lives around their kids, while Spanish parents have their children adapt to their schedule.

The final major difference Gildersleeve sees between moms in Spain versus America is that she notices moms in the U.S. tend to lose a bit of their spark when they become moms. “In Spain, even though you are a mom, you keep hanging out with your girlfriends and you still go to bars and clubs from time to time,” she explains.

“But I feel like in the U.S., when women become moms, they stop having fun.”

She insists that you can go to the club and have a night out and still be a “good mom.”

After the video took off on TikTok, users flooded Gildersleeve’s comments section with their thoughts on her opinions.

Those who have also lived in both Spain and the United States weighed in on her observations, agreeing that Spanish parents were onto something. “Couldn’t agree more,” one person wrote. “I lived in Spain for a year and I loved that we did things during the week. I hate living for the weekend.”

“This!!! I grew up being out and about, my parents did not stop doing this because of us,” Gildersleeve replied.

Others pointed out in the comments why Americans can’t live the relaxed life of the Spanish — and there seem to be a lot of reasons. The U.S. has much longer commutes and more spread out living situations, making socializing after work harder. There’s also the issue of fewer walkable parks and few parks with adjacent cafes and bars. On top of that, there are cultural differences — Americans work more and are often exhausted when they’re done.

Gildersleeve is just one of many moms who have expressed their fascination with the differences between parenting styles in different countries.

Danish parents leave their babies outside alone to sleep in strollers while they grab a drink, and Copenhagen playgrounds are out of a parent’s wildest dreams. In Japan, elementary-aged kids head out to the grocery store alone.

While the debate of “who does it right” could go on forever, there is definitely something to say about other cultures’ desire to make life easier for parents that America just hasn’t gotten on board with yet.

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