I love being a mum of 2. Seeing how my kids love each other always makes me smile (its not all rosey of course – the toddler does give the baby the odd wallop on her way past for no apparent reason and I found her trying to pull his ear off last week). However, with my husband at work I’m on my own with the mini mumblers fairly regularly and I’ve found that now our gang of 2 is a gang of 3 my choice of things to do has been pretty dramatically cut. The trusty all singing, all dancing, always open soft play centres my daughter loves are often a no-no when you have a small baby in tow – she can’t be trusted not to fling herself down a fireman’s pole and miss, and I cant leave him on his own whilst I crawl through tunnels and ball pits to stop her killing, or at least maiming, herself. So I made it my mission to find places I can visit when flying solo with a toddler and baby. The list is ever evolving and I’ll be back periodically to give you more ideas but as a starter for 10 here are a few things to do locally with a baby and toddler….
If you have any other ideas or tried and tested places for us to check out we would LOVE to hear from you!! Contact us here.
- Rubys Fund, Congleton
I had heard good things about Rubys Fund and so one sunny Saturday morning in the summer, I took both mini mumblers along during one of their open play sessions to see what it was all about.
I love the ethos of Ruby’s Fund which is a ‘fully inclusive sensory centre and social cafe for children and young adults of all abilities’. Facilities include a sensory room, play area, cafe and sensory garden. Upon arrival we were given a tour of the centre and shown the different play areas. We were advised to visit the play area and sensory garden first and to use the sensory room last to help the children wind down and relax. So thats what we did, and we weren’t disappointed.
The main room features different areas including a cafe, soft play section and general play area with dressing up rail, Wendy house and play kitchen. My toddler loved the soft play and Wendy house and enjoyed the freedom the open plan set up gave her to run around without a worried mum chasing her around in case she got lost/floored (!) Baby mumbler had a whale of a time bouncing in the jumperoo and generally getting stuck into all the toys for his age group (he was 6 months at the time) – a nice change from sitting in his pushchair watching his big sister have all the fun.
Once we had exhausted ourselves playing we took ourselves off to the sensory room for a chill out before going home. It has such a calm, relaxing feel with dimmed lighting and a cushioned floor. As I expected, my baby son loved it and lay cooing at the bubble tunnel, light strings etc. To my surprise though, my toddler also seemed to embrace it and immediately calmed down and stood mesmerised by the fibre optics.
All in all, we had a fabulous morning. I can struggle to find places to visit which will entertain them both and where I can let my toddler wander off without worrying, or leave my baby safely bouncing away whilst I wrestle in the soft play. Ruby’s Fund is particularly great for that and, having read about the little girl behind the Charity which runs the centre, will definitely be going back to support their fantastic work.
- Bollington Leisure Centre Soft Play
When baby mumbler came along I quickly realised that soft play may no longer be my friend when flying solo which, whilst mildly exhilerating, was also a bit of a problem since it was my trusty go to if we were ever at a loose end, especially when the weather was rubbish. There are, however, a few places which aren’t totally off limits. A childminder friend mentioned that Bollington Leisure Centre has a small soft play room which might be an option and so one rainy Sunday when Mr Mumbler was working I went down with the mini’s to check it out.
The soft play room is situated on the second floor of the leisure centre (so you cant take a buggy but they’ll let you leave it in the office) and is pretty small – no bad thing with 2 on your own. We were the only ones in there so had the run of the place. Theres a ball pool along the back wall which is so deep toddler mumbler drowned a couple of times so the teeny one couldn’t join in. Not the end of the world though as he sat quite happily playing on the mats.
The room has a soft tunnel structure in the middle which the toddler loved climbing through and sliding down and there are plenty of building bricks to jump on, build a den with etc. Theres a tea room next door where you can get a brew (from a machine…) and give them lunch or a snack (you cant buy it there, take your own) but that was being used for training when we went.
This isn’t in the same league as the big soft play centres – I wouldn’t think you could spend longer than an hour or so here, and it’s probably a bit tame for older kids (the website says under 5’s anyway). However, for those days where you (literally) need to take your toddler to a padded room and let her throw herself around for a bit whilst the baby watches from a distance sucking on some foam blocks, its a really good find.
For details of all local soft play venues click here.
Most of the classes I take toddler mumbler too are really welcoming of baby mumbler if I have to take him along. The lovely Rachel at Toddler Sense actively involves him, giving him his own props to eat whilst the bigger kids get on with their activity and he loves rolling round on the equipment during the free play time.
It doesn’t quite work the other way round though – toddler mumbler would be a total liability at a class specifically for babies and I quite often get pangs of guilt that the littlest one is living vicariously through his sister. So I’m pleased to have found a few classes which cater equally for them both. Milena from Mess Around Cheshire and South Manchester’s messy play classes are a great option – they cater for babies through to preschoolers and are really relaxed – the kids do exactly as they please, when they please, meaning its a doddle to take one of each on your own.
Check out our full class listings here.
4.Stay and Play at children’s centres
The set up of most Stay and Play’s makes them a good option for taking 2 on your own. We go to Broken Cross in Macclesfield quite a bit which is an open plan room with different play stations including arts and crafts for the toddlers and a baby corner with age appropriate toys for the smaller ones. The sessions are primarily free play so you can sit with the baby whilst keeping a watchful eye on the older one. The only drawback is that buggies are often not allowed in the rooms meaning that if they are not mobile, you will need to carry baby around so it’s a good idea to take a carrier if you have one. The sessions finish with circle time and a few songs which, again, is inclusive of all age groups. I’m always amazed these sessions are completely free especially since they include a drink and snack!
For information on all local Childrens Centre activities check out our listings here.
So there you have it for now!! I’m constantly on the look out for more places to take the mini’s to on my own so check back regularly for the next instalment!! And PLEASE – if you have any ideas or suggestions, get in touch!! 😊