Fridays are my non working day. As the kids hardly saw me last week I decided that rather than spending my Friday with them hoovering and cooking I would do something that they would enjoy instead.
The day started with Beauty and the Beast, Ben’s new favourite film. We popped over to my Mum’s to eat some yummy curry left overs for lunch and then in the afternoon teamed up with my cousin, Uncle Rob, and his son, Brendan, for a trip to an indoor play area. We normally go to Houghton Regis for indoor play and I worry incessantly about the language used by the other Mums and try to keep Ben satisfied in the tiny toddlers area. I had heard of a centre in Milton Keynes called 360 so we gave it a try.
Once we pulled up and the boys woke up we manhandled the three boys inside. We then had a long wait while I signed us up as one family (we ARE all related!) for £5 and went through the long slow registration and paying process – kids straining to escape and play with all the exciting things.
First stop the toddlers zone. Fairly similar to Houghton Regis, soft shapes and padded floors for them to throw themselves on, a tiny ball pool and a little sensory area (lights on the ceiling, mirrors etc..). Nothing too exciting but quite appropriate for Brendan 1 year and 4 months and Ciaran 1 year and 9 months.
Ben looked longingly at the massive slide in the big boy area so Uncle Rob took him climbing all the way to the top and down the slide, not once but twice while Brendan, Ciaran and I played in a ball pit and slide down a padded slide. Ben came back and we decided that we would all climb up to the top and go down the big slide.
Prehaps not the smartest move as Ben shot off leaving me and Rob to push and shove the little ones up slowly (giving ourselves a good workout) with the occasional break to run madly to the top and all around to find which ever boy had done a runner.
We managed to stop Ben going down the slide without us (just – he had reached the front of the queue by the time I found him) and managed to find Ciaran in a mirrored maze after he did a runner and got ready to go down together, Ben in the middle, me and Rob with the littlies on our laps on either side. Oh my God.
I’ve not been down a big slide for a long time and wearing a slippery Joseph dress sped it up all the more. Ciaran was clutched to my chest for dear life with one hand as I tried to use the other to balance. Embaressingly no child screamed on the slide but I did. A lot. Loudly. Uncle Rob was up for another go but I was gasping for breath and suggested a sedate go on the carousel instead.
Ben was (just) big enough to ride alone, but he and Ciaran decided to sit together in the front of a taxi. I put their seat belts on and then tried to get into the back seat. Ben was upset that I hadn’t put my seat belt on. As I was sitting at a 90 degree angle and was well and truly wedged into the back there really was no need.
The carousel was suprisingly fast (maybe I am turning into a real wimp and will just need to stand holding coats and bags at the exit of rides soon!) and while all three kids loved it, Rob and I staggered out and insisted on a drink break. Ben wheedled a chocolate muffin out of me and we sat the kids down at the clean tables for fruit shoot, jaffa cakes and muffin.
We then hit the main ball pit (in the big boy play area) where the little ones sat waving their arms in balls and Ben found some bigger boys to copy and was soon doing the most daring and explosive jumps and dives into the balls of all of the big boys.
Ben was too small to ride alone on the dodgems so Uncle Rob rode with Brendan and then Ben before we headed upstairs to the imagination area. Brendan headed for the lego bricks while Ben and Ciaran played with a little girl in the supermarket and then became vets, feeding and looking after the sick animals.
Home time was met with massive resistance. Ben didn’t want to leave. He loved it. He wasn’t tired, he didn’t want to go home and have dinner. He wasn’t hungry. I had to carry Ciaran in the crook of one arm and drag Ben bodily out of the play area, at the exit we were checked to make sure that we hadn’t lost or gained a child along the way.
I was very impressed. There is much more to do there than at a traditional soft play area. There was even a small area set aside for messy play, crayons and chalks etc… so you can easily spend a half day there without getting bored. The only downside is that in an attempt to exhaust your children you exhaust yourself!