Akira is a very active kid.
I remember when she was about 8 months old, she already insisted on walking with assistance (somebody stands behind her and holds her hands). We’d do these drills all over the house, outside the house, up and down steps, and I tried my best to stop only when she doesn’t want to anymore.
We got a walker as a Christening present, and we used it a lot as well. Somebody told me once that those are actually banned in the US already, but we were always around when she was in it and we never had any untoward experience with it. We’d let her go at it within our gated compound where there’s more space, but only for about 30 minutes. Here’s an article that warns against using walkers – use at your own discretion 🙂
Once she got how it worked, she loved it. She darted across our compound in short bursts.
She quickly outgrew the walker, and then we started having walks with just one hand held.
Those months were tough on my back, but by the time she was 1 she was already running. I can’t even describe how it feels to look back on those days when she was just this wobbling blob to today, when we just use the stroller for a place for her to sleep in and for carting shopping bags.
Back then, my mom would make comments like “’yung likot niya parang pang lalaki” (she’s as active as a little boy). I didn’t put much thought into it, but it did get me to thinking just how unbelievably energized little kids can get, and how tempting/easy it is to just hand a tablet on ChuChu TV when it’s the adult that’s tired.
I am proud of J and myself for not letting up, especially in those early times, when doing something over and over and over again can drive anyone crazy. Especially with Akira, it seemed like she was running on willpower to master walking without help.
When she finally could move around all by herself, there was no stopping her. It was a good excuse to hit the mall (I think the vast space triggers a sort of internal ‘go’ button in a lot of children) and try kiddie gyms or play areas.
Trying an indoor play area for the first time
We were more than eager to try a play area since Akira pretty much just has us and her grandparents. We wanted her to get used to seeing other children and to learn how to play and interact with them, too.
If it’s your child’s first time, you can opt for the minimum 30 minutes to try a place out for play. You can just extend your play time if 30 minutes is not enough.
Here are some tips for an enjoyable time in an indoor kiddie play area:
- Bring water
If your child is going to play for an hour or even more, he is bound to get thirsty. Some establishments sell some snacks and bottled water, but there’s a big chance that they’d be pricier than the usual.
- Bring a towel and/or change of clothes
Some kids really work up a sweat in spite of the air conditioning, so it’s good to be ready.
- Bring socks for you AND the child
Almost every play area that we tried requires at least the adult to wear socks, so make sure to have a pair on hand. Most play areas do sell socks on site, and usually for no more than 100 pesos a pair, so there’s no need to fret if you forgot to bring one.
- Dress your child in comfy clothes
This sounds like a given, but plenty of times I’ve encountered small girls in dresses that gets in the way of playing, or doesn’t even let them go down a slide properly. If you are attending or coming from a birthday party, bring extra clothes that the child can use for play time.
- Don’t play right after a meal, even if the child is good at insisting
We’ve seen this happen and all I can say is kawawa ‘yung maglilinis.
- Ease up a little on the picture-taking
Sometimes, we can get a bit carried away with the picture and video-taking, and we don’t notice when we keep interrupting the kids to pose or smile while they’re having fun. The ideal scenario is to have somebody else on hand to take pictures so that there’s still somebody minding the child. Try to be more sensitive if the child is beginning to get annoyed, and just let him play. You can also practice taking more candid shots 🙂
Here are some of our favorite indoor play areas:
Gymboree is the first play area that we’ve ever tried, so we will always have a soft spot for it. When we lived in Quezon City, we’d frequent the Robinsons Magnolia branch, but we’ve also tried the Trinoma branch a couple of times. The Greenbelt 5 branch is our home branch though.
Gymboree is one of the few kiddie play areas in malls that allows infants inside as long as they can already sit up by themselves. Here, an adult is required to accompany the child inside the play area at all times, regardless of his age.
Gymboree is an ideal play area for small and young children. The place is built for them, with the thick cushioned flooring, foamed modular blocks, and padded corners, but parents or guardians still need to be extra mindful of their little ones and stay close to them.
I also appreciate that they have a changing station and a comfy breastfeeding room. Akira is 2 years old now, but when she spots a Gymboree, she’d still ask to play in Gymbo 🙂
Here’s Akira at 9 months with her Mamita:
This was a fairly recent discovery. We’d go all the way to Walter Mart Makati (top most floor where the cinemas are) for this place, even if we have nothing else to do there, and there’s only fast food.
This is the only branch I can vouch for, but, if like us, you have been to a few play areas already, you will notice the little differences about Kidzoona that makes it a notch above the rest. For one, the place is huge. It has areas and activities for the more rambunctious of kids, but it also has activities and toys for the quieter kids that say, like to build things with blocks or pretend-play.
The ball pool? Has balls up to an adult’s knees. It’s as big as most outdoor wading pools, so there’s no kids elbowing each other in the ball pool.
There’s a lounge area for the grownups (or for the sleepy child), and drinking water is complimentary.
There’s a wide variety of toys and playthings, from the oversized foam blocks, shape puzzle sets and even doll houses.
Their main attraction though is the giant inflated donut that kids can lie in as grownups push them around. I want to try it myself, to be honest. Oh, and at certain times their mascot will come out to dance with the kids, too.
Kidzoona is better laid out, and is generally cleaner and more organized than other play gyms. There’s an area for you to sit down so you can take off your shoes and put on socks, and there’s a locker for shoes and a separate locker for bags (request for a key from the receptionist).
If there is one drawback to Kidzoona though is that they don’t have their own bathroom. You have to go to all the way to the cinema area (do bring wipes).
Feel free to check their website, it’s pretty complete in terms of information.
Kevin’s Toys & Library
We’re in the Glorietta/Greenbelt area pretty much every week, so Kevin’s has been a default play area for us.
To be honest, Kevin’s is at the bottom of the list in terms of basic features – the place is small and kind of cramped. It’s the only play area of its kind in Glorietta so it can get really crowded and busy especially on weekends. Bigger kids (older than 3) tend to frequent the place, and there’s an option for them to be left by themselves without an accompanying adult so there are bigger chances of smaller kids getting bullied. The toys and books also look like they’ve seen better days.
But. The women attendants of Kevin’s are friendly and are great with children. There’s one that always stays by the slide to assist the children – and assistance can be anything from scooping them up to tying little girl’s hairs into a ponytail and buttoning up the back of their Anna and Elsa costumes. The staff here is what makes Kevin’s great.
In our case they already know our kid, and they’re sure to wave hello even if we’re just passing by.
If you need to do your groceries or need a little ‘me’ time, an hour at Kevin’s will do just the trick.
You’d be surprised that understated Podium has a play area this spacious, and that it can get pretty busy on weekends. My husband and Akira would wait for me here when I’m about to leave the office when I was still working, or we’d just wait the traffic out here before heading home.
Kidz City is where Akira goes to her own little world, where she’s the boss of her kitchen, ‘washing’ dishes, making bread and going grocery shopping. This is where we also trade places and she gets to ‘drive’ while I’m the passenger. It’s my first time inside a beetle ever, by the way, so thank you, Kidz City. I suddenly miss driving a manual.
Anyhoo, Kidz City also has a play maze apart from the ‘pretend village’ that has a hospital, supermarket and garage:
One of the best out there because they decided to go all out with the space – Active Fun in Bonifacio High Street.
It’s 2 or three storeys of play maze. It has three ball pools, with one separate from the main area for smaller children, has a trampoline, and has what I think is the highest indoor slide for these kinds of establishments. It. Is. Fun. I’ve tried it.
I’ve been told their popcorn is really good, but I haven’t tried it yet. They also close pretty late – Monday to Thursday and Sundays they close at 9pm, and on Fridays and Saturdays they close at 10pm. There was one time we promised the little one that we’d ‘go to the playground’ but J an I were still finishing work. We left the house around 7, thinking as long as we make it, even if it’s just for 30 minutes, it’ll be ok and we would’ve kept our word. So that late closing time saved us big time. Here’s their website for rates, locations and other info: Active Fun
There’s a bathroom at the back, and an area for taking off shoes and putting on socks. The best scenario for this place is to have yaya, a grandparent or the husband accompany the kid for an hour while you jog around BGC or enrol in Urban Ashram in the same building and practice yoga (#goals).
Whew, we go to a lot of play areas, yes!
I indulge my kid when she asks to play – I think it’s such a short time, this period where kids can just be kids, and they get a lot of fun out of slides and toys. We still do arcades but if it’s a toss up between the two, we will do ‘playground’, as my kid calls it.
Not everybody has access to a beautiful (and free) playground like the one in Salcedo Village after all, and if the family is going to be in the mall anyway, then what’s 30 to 60 minutes for the kid? Put on those socks and have a great time!