Raise your hand if you’d rather take your kids to a play area than have them staring at a screen all day. Pretty obvious eh? Would you pick the first new play area in town though, if that means a break for you or does this selection require a fair bit of planning at your end?
Children need to play and parents need to rest; in that, they serve a dual purpose. And irrespective of age, sex or season, there is no dearth of play areas in the city. In fact, there’s one springing up every month, if not weekly! But what separates the ‘great’ from the ‘average’? Why are some more frequented than others? Why do a few feature on every mummy Instagram account in town?
While global laundry brand OMO might suggest #dirtisgood, I like my play areas clean. Not squeaky-clean soft plays; more like bright, well-lit spaces that smell of neither child pee nor vomit. Kids being kids will climb, slide and touch (even mouth) every equipment in sight, hence the last thing you’d want is for them to contract a stomach bug as a result. If playing outdoors, a sense of space is a must. A well-maintained grassed area where kids can play sport, tag or simply run around sounds heavenly.
There has been a surge of educative play areas lately, not that we are complaining. From math & vocab to critical thinking & social skills, children learn more through play than one can imagine. Why then, would you not want your kids to be in an interactive museum of sorts (Oli Oli/Orbi), an art-and-craft haven (Cloud 7) or a pretend-play edutainment centre (Kidzania) in the name of entertainment? And if the play area has a keen eye on nature-cum-adventure (think XPark Jr or Aventura for older kids), consider that a big win in itself.
Play areas that pose a safety hazard are a no-no in every parent’s book. Unsupervised set-ups (especially for younger kids) or play dens with complicated tubes, tunnels or structures spell danger. So does those without child-resistant gates, pool enclosures or safety plugs on electrical sockets. Outdoor play areas on the other hand need to be fenced, devoid of sharp equipments and generally free from animal waste. A sandy patch or one with a soft padding sounds ideal in reducing risk of injury from falling from a swing for example.
Do you ever feel like a zombie forever chauffeuring your kids? Then you must prefer play areas situated closer to home. Or those that are easy to get to, provide sufficient parking, have a kid-friendly cafe in their premises for when hunger strikes and offer the world’s best coffee for adults! Parks and playgrounds in busy areas around town are best avoided for reasons of convenience.
And finally, a reasonably priced play area makes sense for more reasons than one. For starters, it is (relatively) economical if you are paying for multiple children. With incidentals like food and drinks, the overall cost of an outing is likely to shoot up. And if your kid has a great time learning, playing and making new friends in there, you are bound to visit more frequently. Maybe once every week, in which case you should enquire for a membership, perhaps?!