I can tell by my local mom’s group discussion boards that people with toddlers are the most stir-crazy of all the people. I get that. How long can you stay in a house with someone who may, at any moment, throw a spoon full of food at you and not feel one lick of remorse?
I watched a toddler open my lowest dresser drawer, violently pull all the pajamas out of it into a heap of tangled garments on the floor, and then throw a fit because there were no more clothes to pull out.
“Where can we go that has a bottomless drawer of pajamas?” I thought. But there is no such place.
If I were the queen of the world, there would be an indoor playspace for toddlers packed with all the things they actually want to do. None of these bullshit ball pit distractions.
How about room where one of the walls is entirely covered with elevator buttons? Why don’t they install that in a kids “play area”?
Or how about a train table store, where the whole place is wall-to-wall train tables and none of the trains are lost or broken — and you’re not expected to buy anything. And there’s foot massages for the moms.
Since Super Duper Elevator Train Toddlerland with Massages for Moms not a thing, let’s focus on practical solutions for getting out of the house until naptime.
Let’s find you a place to go using one of the following strategies:
1. An indoor padded warehouse designed for jumping. Look up these terms to find one near you: “trampoline park (your city)” or “open jump bounce house”. National chains include Pump It Up and Sky Zone. While some of these joints are reserved for birthday parties only, many have open jump hours where you pay an admission price. Typically there is an area where the under fives are protected from any big kids who might trample them accidentally or on purpose.
2. A gymnastics training studio where the gymnasts are at school all day. While your kid may be too young to learn a balance beam routine, she’d probably like to hurl herself onto a gymnastics mat. Many gyms make extra money during the middle of the day by hosting “Open Gym” which means you can pay to enter and trail around after your child for an hour or two while she explores all the equipment. Google for gymnastics in your area and then check the websites to see if the schedules will answer your prayers.
3. A “family fun center”. This will take some sleuthing. What we’re looking for is a place where big kids rack up a jillion tickets playing skeeball and turn them in after a couple hours for a plastic parachute man. Some of these places will have a special room or set of activities for little kids. Again, they want to make money while big kids are at school, so if they know what’s good for them, they install a coffee bar and a toddler room with kiddie rides. What’s good about it? Everyone else there is in the same boat as you. What’s horrible about it? The lighting, germs, and electronic sounds. If you’re an outdoorsy person, a minimalist, or would rather be out hiking or stomping in puddles, I get it, and this post isn’t for you, anyway.
Need more ideas? Check out our list of things to do with a toddler before s/he turns 2.
[Photos: Eric Fung at Pump it Up used with permission; Whitney’s fantasyland also used with permission]