Ten types of parent found at indoor play

29 February 2016

Dear friend,

it was half term and rainy. We had been stuck in the house most of the weekend and desperate to get the boys away from those screens again and against my better nature I decided to take them to the indoor playground.

The boys were very enthusiastic and excited, I knew this as it only took one shout to get them to come downstairs instead of the usual five. We piled into the car and headed off. The first hurdle was finding a parking spot as we were not the only family who had decided to escape the confines of their home, oh no, I think half of South Holland had had the same idea. Then we had to navigate the queue to get in. Standing in a long line of excited children, screaming at each other, jumping around and asking how long it will be is not my idea of fun and another mum gave me that knowing smile and uttered the words; I don't think we are the only ones!

As the door opened I was met by a scene of pure carnage. Kids were quite literally everywhere and parents were wandering aimlessly after their tiny charges, beads of sweat dripping from their red faces, other parents searching fruitlessly for that elusive empty table some were sitting smugly sipping their coffee and reading the newspaper. I am one of those lucky ones who gets to sit here, with my laptop, drinking my coffee whilst my children run off and play but it hasn't always been like that. I remember the days when I used to look at people like me with envy in my eyes.

Ten types of parent found at indoor play

1. Baby parent: Goes with friends or the baby group. Their little cherub spends most of their time asleep in the buggy and secretly they are quite happy as that ball pool looks a bit dirty and they don't want any of those unruly toddlers throwing balls near their angel. Baby parent sips their coffee but then baby wakes up, wants feeding, a clean bum and a burp. Now they have to show willingness to join in so place baby on one of the soft cushions using the large cubes to build a wall of defence and sit protectively next to them their smile hiding a secret warning to any child that dare to enter the vicinity.

2. Harrassed parent: their little one is off; walking, crawling, climbing. Harassed parent spends half their time dashing off to stop their child from falling and the other half crawling after them through tiny spaces, one hand pushing their bottom up. They feel (and look) like they've just completed a boot camp. What's that it's time to go? Harassed parent realises they have spent a maximum of 5 minutes talking to the other parents.

3. Cool parent: drifts effortlessly between the different areas, toddler on hip, shouting encouragement at the older kids as they traverse the rope bridge with confidence and style. Not a hair out of place. They have achieved the perfect balance of supporting their kids and socialising with the other parents. An air of calmness surrounds them.

4. Fun parent: can be seen whizzing down the longest slide and racing all the kids to the top of the frame. They are often found surrounded by children, organising the games and encouraging others to join in. These parents can also complete amazing tricks on the trampoline or build fantastic constructions. When they leave, your kids ask them if they can come next time.

5. Social parent: has little idea where the kids are, they threw their shoes and coats on the floor and ran off on arrival. Social parent sits drinking coffee and chatting with the other parents. On occasion
they will have a walk around with another parent (chatting) and take a cursory look at where their children are and what they are doing.

6. Protective parent: tries to relax and join in the chat or read the paper but spends the majority of the time frantically searching the room for their kids who always seem to be hiding in the darkest corner. Can often be found standing on the outskirts of the play area watching their offspring like a hawk. You can bet that it will be the child of protective parent who gets a bloody nose or friction burn from the slide.

7. Working parent: brings the laptop, sits behind the laptop, types, looks up occasionally to check their kids are OK then goes back to work.

8. Policing parent: takes it upon themselves to monitor the behaviour of all the kids in the play area. They can't relax as they constantly have under surveillance those two big boys (age about 6) who just happened to push past their little darling earlier. Policing parent will be able to tell you exactly where your kids are and what they have been doing. They are mostly found sorting out minor infringements in and around the ball pool.

9. Multi-tasking parent: alternates between flying down the slide, encouraging toddler up the climbing frame and chatting with the other parents, whilst balancing baby on their hip.  May also answer a couple of important calls, whilst sipping on an espresso and wiping a snotty nose.

10. Knackered parent: can be found sleeping in the corner.

Which one are you?

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Photography @My_Dutch_Angle

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