Just say hello

As schools are back this week, I thought it would be a good time for me to take Donut to a play centre.  It’d be quiet(er), and there wouldn’t be any “big kids” running around.  I had decided on taking him to a lovely little play centre, called Playdays Cafe, which is in St Helens (Merseyside).

Now, I’m a member of several websites, that encourages mums to make friends with other mums – so I decided to extend my little party of two to be a mummy social.

One particular website I’m a member of, is (ironically) called Mummy Social, and does allow you to set up events, and invite other mums in your area (or further afield, if you wish).  So I did.  I set it up about 10 days ago, and hey presto!  My invitations were automatically sent out to those in the St Helens and Liverpool area.

It was the eve before my “social”, and no one had clicked the “attend” button on the site.  However, I wasn’t disheartened.  As I said – I was already planning on taking Donut anyway.

I quickly made a post on a local mums facebook group, extending the invite there, and I did get a lot of interest – 4 other mums said they would be there with their little ones.

This morning started off as usual.  Gning and Donut decided they wanted “milk and cookies” for breakfast, and as soon as they were ready, we were out the door.  I dropped Gning off at school (just started year 1), and Donut got really upset, because he wasn’t going to school (he goes to nursery, three times a week).  I explained to him that we were going to play instead, so he hurried me back to the car…

I arrived at the play centre early.  A lot earlier than I had invited the mums for.  I had said 10am, but I was there for 9:30am.

I’m one of those people who suffers anxiety, and I did have a mini panic-attack this morning, thinking that people would actually turn up!  What would I say to them?  Should I just say hello?  How would I keep the conversation going..?

Donut quickly ran off and started playing.  He knows this particular play centre inside out, and has a habit of climbing up to the tallest part, then starts crying.  He gets “stuck”.  He isn’t really stuck…  He just realises that he’s at the top, and can’t remember the way down.  This is exactly what happened at 9:55am.  He stood at the top of the frame, looking down at me, sobbing.  One of the girls who worked there shouted up to him, “are you ok?”, she asked.  I replied that he always does this – he just can’t remember the way down.  I stood up and went to help him, but the girl had beat me to it.  “Don’t worry about it – I’m used to going up and down this thing.  You just sit down and enjoy your coffee”, she said with a smile.  Brilliant.  Mother of the Year award goes to a complete stranger, who shot up the climbing frame quicker than I could pick up my cup.

Donut made his own way down, with guidance from the girl, and was so happy when he reached the bottom.  He did his little happy dance, and even “high fived” her, before she made her way back behind the counter.  Next thing you know, he’s up at the top again…  Only this time, he remembered his new learned skill, and was back down!

There were plenty of other mums, and carer’s of children, in the play centre.  I looked around, looking for any glimpse of familiarity in their faces.  Was that the girl who replied that she would attend?  I’m sure I recognise that little boys face…

One mum was heavily pregnant, and looked really stressed out.  She had a little girl with her – I’d say about 18 months old or so, and the tiny tot would not leave her side.  The bump had to climb over the 1.5ft barrier occasion on occasion to force her daughter to play.

Another mum was there, and had what looked like a 3 year old boy, and a baby boy – around a month old.  She looked a natural.  Laughing, chasing the child around, whilst “wearing” the baby on her chest…

Then I realised that Donut had disappeared again.  I thought that he was up on the frame again, but then I heard him laugh.  I turned around, and noticed that he was in one of those coin operated rides, with another little boy of a similar age, and the machine was on.  Mum of little boy was at their side, smiling.  I shot over to their side, and apologised that Donut was taking over her sons’ ride.  She laughed, and told me not to worry about it.  Her son doesn’t usually mingle well with other children, but he seemed to like Donut.

It was now 10:20am.  I was getting bored, sitting at the table alone.  If anyone had turned up from the Mummy Social site, or facebook group, no one had made an effort to try to find me.

I hastily posted a status on the latter mentioned group, asking if anyone was there, and if they were too shy to say hello – because I was in the same boat.  I did get lots of replies, but all were “sorry, I forgot”, or “I didn’t know you meant today…”.

I called Donut over, and asked him if he wanted to go home and see daddy, which he said “yes” to.  On with his shoes, and home we went.

I think the point that I’m getting to here is not about anyone else turning up, it’s about something much more.  I was sat on my own, and apart from the other two mums’, who seemed to be there without any other adult company, there were other “groups” of mums / child-carers.

Did you know that 4 out of 5 people would rather use the statement “I’m depressed”, rather than “I’m lonely”?

If you’re with a group of friends, and you see a mum sitting on her own – smile at her.  Say “hello”.  It’s not much, and takes no effort at all, but you may just bring so much more to that persons’ day.

Seek out the mum who is focused on her smartphone.  Most of the time they will say, ‘Oh, did you mean me?  Hi.’  A little eye contact, a little smile, a little victory for humanity.

You never know – you may just have met your new best mum friend by one simple word.

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Spaceworld Prescot – Review

Prescot is a small town in the borough of Knowsley, in Merseyside, England.  There has never really been a lot of things to do in the Prescot area for children, unless of course, if the sun is shining.  There used to be a large swimming pool, but that shut down a few years ago.  Since then, a new, bigger, better, leisure centre, with swimming pool, has opened in Huyton village, but that is still a little inconvenient when it comes to taking your toddler.

I was looking for somewhere a little more…  Well, a little less ‘wet’, and somewhere where I didn’t have to drag a toddler, and a large changing bag in hand.

I had seen yellow signs for Spaceworld around the area, and I had often wondered what it actually was.  So, as most people do, I eventually Googled “Spaceworld Prescot”, and their website came up.  It looked really good…  It was a large warehouse, that had a play centre and cafe built inside.  The play frame looked colourful and sturdy, and there was even a separate area for toddlers (0-3 years).

centre

Apologies for the size of the photo…  This was the only one I could find, and, as with all play centres, I didn’t want to take a photograph myself.

So, a few months ago, we took Will there.  The lady who was on the reception was friendly, and she stated that if Will wanted to go on the larger play frame, there was no problem for me (or the hubby) to go on it with him.  We thanked her, paid the £5.45 entry, handed in the little mans’ shoes, and we headed straight for the toddler area.

Large mats, soft play equipment, soft blocks, little ride-on bikes and cars, and a mini climbing frame with a little slide at the end…  William immediately fell in love with it.  And because it was his first time in a place like this, I took my shoes off and went through the mini frame with him.  I found it a little amusing when I almost got stuck, halfway down the slide…

But the fun and games of the toddler area were not enough for Will.  Something had caught his eye…  The large, wavy, pink slide.

Being a bit of a ‘wuss’, I decided that the large frame would be a bit too much for me, so I played ‘tag-team’ with my husband, and he took Will up the steep, squishy ladder, on to the large frame.

An hour later, the pair of them returned to me, soaking with sweat and looking for a drink.

The cafe was lovely.  From juices, slushies, teas and coffees to sandwiches, hot meals, pancakes and ice creams; the prices are very reasonable.  There are even speciality teas on the menu.  Personally, I prefer the large caramel latte!

The staff are mostly friendly…  I say mostly, because I noticed on our trip there yesterday, a rather sour-faced woman.  She must be new there, as I had never seen her before.  I would say she is in her forties (mid to late), and the looks that she gave the children were unbelievable.  On the risk of sounding really nasty, she really did look like a bulldog chewing a toffee!

My little man needed a change before we left, so we headed to the baby changing room.  The ‘bulldog’ was in there, cleaning…

I have previously worked in a play centre, and I know that the job is an all-rounder.  You have to do reception duties, serve refreshments, do the cleaning…  Everything.  But you always do it with a smile on your face.

I made what little conversation I could with Will (bear in mind that he’s only 1, and although he can hold a conversation, it’s my translation of it that makes it difficult, ha ha), whilst waiting for the room to become vacant.  A couple of minutes later, she emerged carrying two binbags, and kicking a bucket full of cleaning bottles.  I smiled, friendly, as you do, and what did she do in return?  Glared at me, as if I am going in there to ruin her precious cleaning.

I wouldn’t have minded, but her cleaning was a lot to be desired.  There was bleach still in the toilet bowl, water all over the floor, and the smell…  Wow.  I needed a peg for my nose!

So now I think I know what the look was for…  I obviously must have interrupted her!  Ha ha.  I doubt it…  I mean, why would you clean the toilets at 5:15pm, when the play centre is open to the public until 6pm?

Moving on, my next complaint is nothing to do with the actual centre, or the staff…  It’s about the people who use the facilities.  Mainly the parents.

We were at Spaceworld last weekend, and it was absolutely full of people.  Well, it would be given the time of year, and it being right in the middle of the summer holidays…

Rules of the centre clearly state that shoes should not be worn, and socks should be worn on the equipment for hygiene reasons.

You can see where I am going with this…

Parents, walking and running around on the equipment with their outdoor shoes on, and kids running around, screaming, with no socks on.

Whilst the next is not a rule as such, I would expect people in this day and age to know better.  There was a woman, standing all over the kiddies playmats in her outdoor shoes (which were heels), and very obviously taking photographs of her (FIVE) kids, with no care as to whoever else was in the photograph.  No, no, no!  Normally I wouldn’t complain about the photo side of things, but she was standing at the bottom of the slide, with her phone in her hand, and taking pictures…  I even heard her say (very loudly, as obviously she couldn’t control her volume…  Ahhh, so that’s why her kids were screaming…), “do it again and I’ll video you this time..”  There she stood with the phone recording from the start of their climb to the end…  And whilst she was recording, several other kiddies (including my little man) came down the slide…  So, in the words of Peter Griffin, “You know what really grinds my gears..?”

Point made.

Let’s get back to the seriousness of the review.

I would recommend anyone with a child, of any age, to visit Spaceworld in Prescot.  The entry is reasonable, the cafe prices are reasonable, and the drinks / food delicious, the staff (most of them) are lovely, friendly people, and it’s a great place to allow your little ones to blow off some steam.

Markings:  9/10

Visit their website by clicking here