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Today my fiance and I brought our baby boy to a play zone, bringing his visits to these types of places to the ripe ole number of two. He is now becoming more mobile and is leaving the shuffling behind, instead favouring pulling himself up onto his feet and walking when someone holds his hands, therefore, we wanted him to have a bit of fun crawling about on things in soft and safe environment, something which our home is not, damn those wooden floors and glass tables! I had no previous aversions to children's play zones, I thought they would be a great play to take my son to crawl about to his hearts content and socialise with other small children, however, my idealistic thoughts about these types of places were to be swiftly shattered. There are a couple of things which I witnessed and noticed which have put me off children's play zones, possibly for good.
1. The ways of other children. I understand that children are children and that some may behave in a way that I don't approve of but really I can't be arsed putting up with the territorial actions, shouting, pushing and general nastiness of other children when I am trying to play with my son. Today we put our son on a slide for the first time, a moment which should have been quite special with it being a milestone and everything, perhaps I'm too sentimental but anyway, it was ruined by some little brat who thought she owned the slide, following my fiance up the soft ramp declaring to him that "This is my slide, get off". We both proceeded to ignore said brat, as did her mother who was in earshot but decided to let her little dictator claim her reign of the toddler play area. We then decided we had enough of the slide and being annoyed and proceeded to make our way to the rocking horses, only to be followed by the same girl who almost knocked our son of his rocking horse while staking her claim on the other ones. I just can't be bothered putting up with this, I'd rather not battle with a child to be able to put my son on some play equipment, it's just not worth it!
2. Other mothers. You know the kind who have nothing better to do all day then sit around in groups and gossip and then look down their nose at you, well this place was full of them, in fact, most of these mothers were too busy having a chat to supervise their little darlings. I can't stand parents who don't bother to supervise their children, especially when there were babies crawling around almost being stepped on and hit into. In my opinion it's just rude, this area is simply not for them and their children, it's communal and a thought should be given to the needs of others.
3. Cleanliness. In the two play zones that I have taken my son to cleanliness is something to be desired. We visited both play zones at ten in the morning and both places were filthy. I understand that it must be quite difficult to clean the equipment but the surrounding carpets were filthy, covered in crumbs and general dirt, surely this all couldn't have been caused in an hour? I saw cobwebs in between the soft play squares, cobwebs! I dread to think what's lurking underneath them, the thought actually gives me chills, do I really want my baby crawling around on something so filthy? The answer is a very stern no. I must point out that I'm not stating that all play zones are like this but the ones I have encountered most certainly are.
4. Germs. This one is much like the cleanliness issue. With so many children and babies using such a small space there is bound to be some transfer of germs from saliva, sneezing, touching and dirty shoes, disgusting isn't it? The thought of it actually makes my skin crawl. I know children need to be around these things to build up immunity but if I wouldn't like to crawl around in other people's germs why should I expect my baby to?
There you have it, my reasons for being turned against using children's play zones. I know on the plus side they are a fantastic indoor place for mother and baby groups to meet, play and chat but I think the cons outweigh the pros for me. I think I'll favour having meet ups in my own home, gymboree groups, going on walks and talking my son to the swings. Of course I have nothing against parents who choose to take their children to places like this, they are simply not for me, at least not now while my son is so young. Perhaps when he is older and able to go into the bigger children's area these things won't be too much of a bother for me or him but for now no, just no.
Are you for or against children's play zones?