The Clash was right, this question is essential to staying at home with the kids. On one hand, leaving the house means that you can have wild adventures, lasting memories of shared experiences, and excitement beyond your wildest imagination. On the other hand, you have to deal with their BS.
I know that the kids appreciate it when I take them to The Sandbox, The Strong Museum, Kango, Bounce It Out etc. But seriously, it is a major undertaking. First of all, you have to plan an hour ahead of time what you will be bringing. I liken it to Rambo getting prepared for battle. I mean, you physically are wearing a bandolier of bottles, sippy cups, diapers, wipes and whatever other stuff you are carrying just to keep them happy. I still have not found a diaper bag that makes it seem like I am not carrying a monster purse with me. It’s either that, or I am wearing a backpack that looks like I am off to Kilimanjaro.
Secondly, those places are havens for germs. I don’t know how often they go through and wipe down everything. I have never physically seen it but I know when I used to work at Discovery Zone we cleaned as needed and stayed late once a week to disinfect the ball bin. I always enjoyed the announcement over the loundspeaker: “Attention, Zone Manager Chris, we have a CODE BROWN in tunnel number 5” Gross. Take it from me ball bins are disgusting but lucrative. I would find keys, money, cell phones, rings, and just about anything you would keep in your wallet. If the kids could convince their parents to crawl around in there it meant that this teenager could afford Burrito Loco that night.
Every time my kids see a McDonald’s PlayPlace I shudder because they want to go in there. The McD’s on Monroe in Pittsford needs to be shut down by the EPA. I am afraid to even put my elbows on the tables without my skin being buffered by a wipe barrier. Staying at home has its privileges. I know what is expected. I know what is possible. I know what is clean. I have a time out chair readily available and they can’t run too far without being contained.
At these play places especially if you have two, you know they have the tendency to disappear. So here’s a pop quiz hotshot. Who are you going to go after when they both run different directions? Huh? Huh? I never go without a play place buddy. The buddy system really does work. My friend once went to the Strong. His daughter was 2 and his son was still in the stroller. He was hindered by the stroller and she took off amongst the catacombs of Adventureland. If you are tall, you know that this area is not good for backs or heads and only little people or Smurfs can really fit in there. Not only that but you get that panic feeling when you can’t see them anymore. Luckily she was rounded up by a docent with a walkie-talkie who asked him if she was his child and then reported in said walkie-talkie “Cancel that, we found the dad” That’s a terrible feeling. So should you stay or should you go? You need to find a balance. But take my advice, bring a buddy, tag your child with a GPS tracker, and then let them loose in the wild. You never know what is going to happen and that could be good depending on how long you have been inside the house.