Val Tobin Author

Indoor Play Parks Provide Fun for Kids and a Break for Parents

by Val Tobin

Originally published December 9, 2011 on Suite101

Republished on SNGS December 23, 2013

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Funnery Indoor Play Park

Things have changed in the toddler fun biz in the more than 25 years since I tried to find something for my preschoolers to do. Now, there are indoor play parks for kids that will suit almost any age and accommodate every budget. Services can include anything from babysitting to Karate lessons. Whether you are trying to escape the bitter cold of winter or the blasting heat of summer, an indoor play park provides a great place to settle in for a couple of hours with your kids.

Benefits of Indoor Play Parks

The obvious benefit to bringing your child to an indoor play is that you are taking the mess out of your own home; though it could also be an opportunity to teach your kids to put things away as they finish using them. As well, your kids can have all the benefits of playing with a variety of toys without you having to buy them. It is a great way to see which ones they like and use, and which ones they discard after five minutes of play.

If your kids are of an age where they can play independently, then you can take the opportunity to sit and have a tea or coffee and read or socialize while you monitor the kids at play. If the place provides free wireless, you might even get some work done while the children play.

Many play parks offer party packages, babysitting, before and after school programs, or classes for kids or parents that are reasonably priced and give the whole family something to do. March break or summer camps are also popular services that play parks offer.

Kids Learn to Share as They Interact with Others

If you are new to the area, an indoor play park is a great place to meet new friends with children close in age to your children or grandchildren. Children will get an opportunity to play with other kids of a variety of ages, and all kids will learn important lessons about sharing, as one little girl does while at Kids at Sea Indoor Playground in Newmarket, Ontario:

A little girl climbs down from a swing and runs to find the dolly she had set down prior to getting on the swing. To her dismay, another little girl has picked up the treasured item and is playing with it. She knows that she can't claim the doll as hers, since it's communal property, and a look of dismay crosses her face. When the second child, who is older, sees the younger girl's disappointment, she holds the doll out to the child, and tells her she will let her have it if she can have it back again later.

Kids at Sea has an environment conducive to cooperative play. It is a contrast to the more physical and boisterous environments found in other parks, though those types of parks do also provide hours of fun for kids. But it all depends on what you are interested in when you decide to take your child out for a day of play.

What to Look for in an Indoor Playground

The following are things to consider when deciding on an indoor play park to go to with your child:

Whatever destination you choose, the playground should be a safe and clean place for your child to play.

Indoor Playgrounds Should Put Health and Safety First

Sherry Couto and her sister Sam, owners of Kids at Sea, tell me that cleaning and sterilizing the toys and equipment to minimize the spread of germs are priorities at their park, and they hired two co-op students to help them with the chore. Sam explains: "... each door handle, each toy gets wiped down with a type of industrial cleaner that sterilizes everything. Costumes get washed regularly and sprayed down regularly ... the girls do all the cleaning and we clean the bathrooms, get rid of the garbage."

All play parks will have a list of rules guests must follow to ensure that everyone has a safe and enjoyable experience at the park, though the children may not be happy with some of the rules. According to Sam, the rule that kids balk at the most is the rule about no costumes or toys on the large pirate ship. This rule comes from the Health Board and must be enforced, much to the disappointment of kids who want to dress up as Peter Pan and Captain Hook to play on the ship.

Another rule common to play parks requires that shoes be removed to go into the play area, and that socks must be worn at all times. Some parks have socks for sale so that those children who have arrived without socks can still go in and play.

Most parks have security cameras and alarms in place, and some also have a coding system to identify which child belongs with which adult. When it is busy, kids can get separated from their parents in a large facility, so having something in place to ensure that children can only leave with the person they came with provides reassurance.

How to Find Indoor Activities for Kids in Your Area

The best way to find a great play park near you is through word of mouth. Ask other parents if they know of any indoor parks nearby. While these parks do advertise, it was through word of mouth that I discovered both Kids at Sea and the Funnery. Local newspapers and magazines are also a great source, as this is where the parks are likely to have advertising.

When doing an Internet search, try different key word phrases to describe what you are looking for, and include the name of your town/city and state/province in the search. Use quotation marks around your search phrase to reduce the number of results returned if you are getting too many irrelevant results.

The play parks available today provide hours of safe, fun play for children at reasonable prices. If you are searching for something to do, and you don't mind paying a small entry fee, then consider a pay-for-play indoor park. Many of them have educational toys and all of them are bigger, better and more fun than the free play areas found at malls or fast food places. Search your town for these hidden gems, as sometimes they can be the best-kept secret in your own back yard.


Image: The Funnery Indoor Play Park – Courtesy of The Funnery

Kids at Sea (Accessed December 8, 2011).

The Funnery Play Park (Accessed December 8, 2011).

Related books available on Amazon:

Indoor Play Parks

Indoor Activities for Kids

Disclaimer: The information on this web site is not intended to substitute advice from your physician or health-care professional. Before beginning any health or diet program, consult your physician

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