Parenting is hard work. In fact, numerous studies have reported that parenting is one of the hardest if not the hardest jobs in the world. Long hours partnered by manual labor and not to mention a moody and difficult client/s (your kids) make any parent nod in strong agreement about the above-stated fact.
From infancy to their teenage years (sometimes even as adults), children have different but equally challenging problems. From ages three (sometimes two) until 12, one of the major issues parents have to deal with is what to do with their child’s seemingly unlimited energy. Especially for parents of boys (not to say girls do not have equal amounts of energy), this can prove to be a frustrating thing what with all the other commitments you are handling. Plus, a healthy adult can still have difficulty keeping up with the physical demands of an active child. Playing with children can be exhausting but at the same time, parents also understand that play for kids is a very important activity.
Photo by Eden, Janine and Jim.
Why indoor play is important for kids
Study after study has found play– both indoor and outdoor– to have a huge impact on certain developments of children from their baby years and even well into adulthood.
Because play’s role in a child’s life is so relevant and essential, the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights recognizes play as a Right of Every Child. However, according to Pediatrics.org, there are many hindrances to play apart from the obvious like war and human trafficking. Even in countries that are relatively peaceful, many children are still deprived of play and its benefits.
“However, even those children who are fortunate enough to have abundant available resources and who live in relative peace may not be receiving the full benefits of play. Many of these children are being raised in an increasingly hurried and pressured style that may limit the protective benefits they would gain from child-driven play.”
But why is play a big deal and what makes it so important?
Most parents think that play can actually hinder progress in learning and discourage it when their kids start going to school. Rules such as study first, play later apply in almost majority of households.
Play is essential for major milestones and developments in the brain, social functions, and the physical body.
“Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. Play is important to healthy brain development. It is through play that children at a very early age engage and interact with the world around them. Play allows children to create and explore a world they can master, conquering their fears while practicing adult roles, sometimes in conjunction with other children or adult caregivers. As they master their world, play helps children develop new competencies that lead to enhanced confidence and the resiliency they will need to face future challenges. Undirected play allows children to learn how to work in groups, to share, to negotiate, to resolve conflicts, and to learn self-advocacy skills. When play is allowed to be child driven, children practice decision-making skills, move at their own pace, discover their own areas of interest, and ultimately engage fully in the passions they wish to pursue.”
Outdoor play is very important for children. However, many parents are hesitant to bring their kids to the park because of all the uncontrollable factors such as weather and allergies. Gone are the days too when parents could chat with each other, drink their coffee and let the kids play in the park with minimal supervision, not fearing they be abducted or hurt. Mass shootings, random kidnapping, and human trafficking have grown rampant even in developed countries.
Because of these reasons, many parents opt instead to bring their kids to indoor parks. It’s the perfect combination of a park and a safe area where both kids and parents can enjoy. Many indoor play centers have coffee shops where parents can watch over their kids while the young ones are playing– the cafes overlooking the playground.
In indoor playgrounds, kids can interact with their peers and have child-led play all at once so social skills can still be developed while the countless different obstacle courses can help kids stretch and use their muscles, aiding in physical strength.
Parents can either join their kids or relax a little and catch up with their partners (because obviously after having kids that have been reduced to almost zero percent!). Because a proper indoor play zone is baby proofed, parents can be assured that their kids would not be scraped or bleed to death somewhere when their hawk-like stares are averted for a second’s time.
It is no wonder indoor playgrounds have increased in number over the years. Parents, with their heightened need for security and desire to give kids a fun time out are choosing to visit indoor play centers more and more.
Photo by Scott and Elaine van der Chijs
What are indoor playgrounds
Indoor playgrounds are kid-appropriate places indoors with amenities mimicking common playgrounds. However, modern indoor playgrounds have grown bigger.
Each indoor playground looks different. Some are massive in size while others are smaller. But some of the common denominators apart from the obvious that it be inside a closed facility are the child-proofing and the distinction between a toddlers and kids area.
“Commonly, indoor play places equipment are wrapped in plastic foam so even the wildest of wild toddlers and kids can still enjoy without bumping somewhere sharp. It is also the reason why some parents prefer indoor play centers versus outdoor. In the former, everything is set up so even very young kids can enter and roam around.”
Toddler areas are for babies from 6 months (only if safe) until three years old. The usual activities in these areas include inflatables that are every kid’s favorite, sensory board games, and puzzles that stimulate different senses. The toddler area is almost always smaller than the kid’s area simply because of the activity levels of toddlers as well as their need for leg space is way less than kids normally require during play.
While the toddler area is very important in an indoor playground, it is the kids’ zone that can make or break an indoor play center. Kids look for fun-looking activities such as a ball pit, slides of different levels, obstacle courses, rides, ladders, guns and for some, mini-libraries and dolls. Indoor playgrounds with more amenities are usually favored by kids. In this area, children aged four until 12 are usually accommodated.
Parenting hacks for going outside with kids
Each indoor playground looks different from another– different facilities, special activities, themes, and scale– can make novice indoor playground moms and dads overwhelmed. What does their childlike? What is the best one?
Another dilemma often faced by parents, especially those with a tight budget, is the expenses that come with a day out with kids. Going out with children, say on a weekend, can be really pricey. However, rest assured, it does not have to be too expensive.
With proper preparation, budgeting a day on the playground with the family can actually be less worrisome and expensive.
For a more in-depth guide to saving up on trips with kids, here’s one of our blogs: Indoor Playground Singapore: 5 Pro Tips to Save Money Going Out with Kids
Do some research
The first thing you want to do before going outside with your family is to research the place. As though you are a tourist in your own city, look for places that offer discounts, route rates and what will be the least expensive for your group and the rates of different indoor playgrounds. Check for reviews as well so you can be sure that your kids will be able to enjoy wherever you choose to go to.
Make sure to look at the background of the indoor playground, which one is most accessible via multiple modes of transportation.
Be on the lookout for promos and packages
Generally, indoor playgrounds are affordable but they can sometimes be expensive with the number of hours and children and frequency of the trips. If the option is available, sign up early on for newsletters, promos, and discounts online so if there is a sale, you can be notified.
Some indoor playgrounds have discounts when buying online. Others are cheaper by the dozen. If the latter is the case, inviting some friends with kids over will be a great idea. Not only will it save you some money, but you can split other expenses as well.
The holidays are usually more expensive as it is peak season, but sometimes there are holiday discounts you can also take advantage of.
What to bring in your bag:
Now, another important thing to plan is what to bring in your bag when going out with your kids. This could save you money and give you more security. Being prepared for anything and everything that might happen on that trip can prevent any terrible mishaps or you can easily remedy them.
Grumpy baby? Well, here’s his favorite toy. Headache? You’re covered with paracetamol. Diaper blowout and no changing area nearby? You’re set with your mobile station.
While being prepared is very important, remember too not to over pack. Having too many items will only weigh you down– literally. Opt instead for multi-purpose items like a big thin towel as cover and can double up as a changing mat. Or bring thinner clothes for warm weather or a warm item that is not bulky.
Take time a day or two before the trip out to list down everything you need to bring with you. Really think of all possible outcomes in the day to better prepare you. Only you know what your child needs.
Remember to bring some things for yourself too.
Here’s a list of things you should have with you:
- Changing Mat
- Baby wipes
- Hand sanitizer
- Medicine for fever
- Medicine for nausea
- Favorite Toy
- A photo of your children/ child
- Extra outfit per kid
- Extra clothes for yourself
- A scarf or a lightweight blanket
- Dry bag or dirty bag for dirty items
Healthy snacks to go
Snacking can be expensive and it can wreak havoc on your kid’s diet. Trying to feed kids healthier when outside is not as easy as it seems. Bringing snacks to go that are yummy, filling, healthy and mess-proof is not impossible. Here are some ideas:
- Sweet and salty trail mix
- Granola bars
- Mini pancakes or mini waffles
- Whole wheat wraps
- String cheese
- Raisins and other dried fruits
- Cut out fruits
The great thing about most of these snacks is that they can also be something you snack on. So, bring an extra for yourself too!
Commute, if it’s sensible
In Singapore, the railway system is pretty decent compared to other countries. There are indoor parks that are near the terminals of the different train routes. If the one you’re visiting is there, then opt for a train than through a cab or taking a car. It’s sort of an adventure of its own as well.
If you’re desired transport service is indeed a train then simply purchase an EZ card so you can easily move around terminals without waiting for the line’s queue.
“The reloadable card can be purchased from the Transitlink Ticket Office or Passenger Service Centre counters located at the MRT stations. The sales price of each card is S$12 (S$7 stored value + S$5 non-refundable card cost). Single trip tickets can be purchased from the ticket machines. The price of each single trip ticket depends on the distance/number of stations + S$1 refundable deposit,” shared TripAdvisor
Going out to play with your kids can be scary but you can be certain that these indoor playground dates with the children not only satisfy your need to bond together but playing also helps them develop cognitive, social and physical skills that they can use until they become self-sustaining adults. Through careful planning and other preparations, day trips can feel less overwhelming, become more enjoyable and even less expensive.
Indoor playgrounds are safer yet offer the same social play kids crave for. Parents can relax better knowing their kids are safe and having a great time outside.
The Polliwogs is one of the largest, most prominent chain of indoor playgrounds in Singapore. It is trusted by hundreds of parents for their children’s serious fun! Book a ticket today!