In Search of Parent-Friendly Places

It rained the other day and after several days of rain and staying in the house I could no longer stand the sight of my children….and the feeling was mutual. So I decided to take my kids to one of those indoor play places. These places are particularly useful here in New England where the weather is often horrendous. I sometimes wonder why there aren’t more of them because what else are parents doing when it’s 100 and humid or raining or freezing or snowing?  Then again, what the hell did I do as a kid in the bad weather? I sucked it up and played at home or endured the bad weather, right? I really don’t remember. I just know that for my kids, staying home for more than one day is not an option, at least not without copious amounts of complaining and television viewing.

Back to the indoor play place. As I said, I marvel at the fact that there are so few choices here in Rhode Island. I also marvel at how poorly these places are run. I am not digging the management or complaining about the options for my kids. Instead, I am complaining, very loudly, about how dreadfully boring these places are for moms.

First and foremost, these places are every lawyer’s wet dream. Throw a bunch of kids into a room ripe with overstimulation; add a ton of toys and things to climb upon and I smell a lawsuit! As a result, these places have more rules than Singapore. Parents and/or guardians must keep an eye on their children at all times. As a matter of fact, in one place I’m supposed to remain within arm’s reach of them. Have you ever tried being within arm’s reach of two children at the same time? Unless they are Siamese twins, this is impossible. So I stand there like a sentry on guard, watching my children have the time of their lives while I count dust motes floating in the air.

Second, everything is all about the kids. The place I visited last week did not allow outside food and drink. They did, however, provide snacks for a fee. Take a look at the menu. Is there anything on there that is even remotely appetizing to a person over the age of 12? I think not.

What kind of mom wants a ring pop?

Finally, assuming my children are safe and having fun, there is still NOTHING there for adults to do. Oh sure, they throw around some magazines for you to review. The selection, however, is typically worse than a doctor’s office as I found myself last week reading about how to keep kids from getting sick this winter and speculation that Brangelina was finally getting married. When I’m foolish enough to brave these places without a friend, I start praying to meet another friendless mom who will chat with me. Otherwise, I’m in for the longest two hours of my life.  (by the way….thank you Millicent).

It’s unfortunate because in San Diego (where I used to live), the indoor play places were fantastic. I never quite understood why since the weather there is almost always perfect for outdoor play but for some reason they got it right. There are even a few restaurants/bars that have playrooms for the kids. The food sort of sucked but what did I care? I was drinking a beer and hanging with my hubby while my kids happily played in a contained area. Damn I miss that place!

Rhode Island: show me what you got! You can do it! Forget about the damn kids and think of the moms for once! Here is my wish list for making these indoor play places more parent-friendly:

• Please hire people who are capable of watching my kids and enforcing your rules. I don’t know your stupid rules. Am I supposed to guess that only one kid can go on the jumpie at a time? It seems foolish since they are ensconced in rubber and air.  I personally can’t think of a safer place for a kid and am therefore feeling nonchalant, yet you seem annoyed at me because I’m not making my kid wait an unreasonable amount of time for his turn. Take me out of the equation and have someone else watch out for my kids’ safety. I’ll pay extra. Besides, if my kid breaks his arm there, I’m suing you either way (just kidding )

• If I can’t bring in my own food and drink, kindly give me the option of purchasing some coffee and a baked good. If you’re not up for installing a coffee bar, for god’s sakes splurge on a keurig and buy some Entemann’s.

• Have something other than reading dated magazines for mom to do. You could set up some desks and offer free wireless internet so moms can bring their laptops and work, shop online or watch movies on netflix. Better yet, bring in a masseuse for a chair massage, or offer manis and pedis. You might even host a yoga class or parenting seminar. Stop complaining about the cost: people will pay!

• Have a TV. No, not to broadcast cartoons! It’s not all about the kids you know! Show something most of us can at least tolerate: Ellen, the Food Network, Project Runway. Even better: show a movie. How hard can this be? I’m not asking to watch “True Blood” (though it would be nice) but something with minor entertainment value would sure make my visit more enjoyable. Even Regis and Kelly would be better than those dust motes.

That should get us started. I don’t think it’s too much to ask. Anyone with some entrepreneurial spirit could really get something great going. Let me know if you’re up for the challenge. In the meantime, I really need to find something else to do on a rainy day!



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4 Responses to “In Search of Parent-Friendly Places”

  1. Gammy says:

    Hey..when… I move back there.. although you aren’t making it sound enticing… let’s open a playplace for Moms and Kids… we’ll hire people to oversee it.. so we don’t have to sit there.. You played and drew pictures and Barbies and read books.. and watched tv, not as much as Mark did though.. but he himself. Things were just different. Maybe living here in San Diego spoiled them by getting them used to always being out and not staying home and finding ways to entertain themselves. ??

  2. Christine says:

    Even Ikea will yake your kids! Why not a place geared to kids??

  3. Patty says:

    That sounds like a good business venture, and will be the first of it’s kind in little Rhody! Go Kiiiimm! Thanks for sharing- very funny!

  4. Marta says:

    Hilarious! So true how that adult attention is needed at indoor playgrounds.