Indoor Playground Best Practices

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If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I take my kids to the indoor playgrounds in South Jersey a lot. Like, at least twice a week in the warm weather and even more in the cold weather. They’re super convenient; we can eat there (NO cooking or washing dishes!), the boys can play, and I can be happy knowing they’re getting some exercise and socializing. I consider the purchase of our meal to be the “entrance fee” for the playground much like how most would buy a coffee or snack somewhere, out of courtesy, if they need to use a public restroom. On a good, lazy day we could probably spend like 2 hours at an indoor playground. On a not-so-good day, though, I’ve been known to walk into a playground with the boys, only to leave minutes later. This totally annoys me. Why, you ask, would I leave a playground early? Let me just say that there seems to be a need for a lesson in playground etiquette. Read on, grasshopper, read on.

Your child is HOW tall?

Most indoor playgrounds will have a little sign by the entrance that goes over the playground guidelines. Typically included in this set of guidelines are height recommendations like “you must be between *this* measurement and *this* measurement to play. For the love of all things holy, if your child is taller than the specified height, don’t send them in to play. Yes, I know that indoor playgrounds can be a ton of fun, but can you imagine how frightening a 5-foot kid could be to a tiny little two-year-old trying their hardest to maneuver the steps up to the slide? Recently, the boys and I were at Chick-Fil-A and some big kids came into the playground. Like “taller than I am and way taller than the height limit” big kids.  On the flip side, if you’ve got a teeny-tiny, maybe hold off on the playground until they can safely teeter-totter around the play area without your assistance? There can be A LOT of running and jumping going on in that play area; it would absolutely break my heart if one of the littles got hurt because they couldn’t keep up.

4 piece or 6 piece?

Nuggets. I mean chicken nuggets. As in, the kid’s chicken nugget meals that are intended for eating outside the play area. Food is not meant for playgrounds, so pretty puh-lease have kids eat all their food outside of the playground. Otherwise, it just gets messy and no one wants that.

Hey, Ma/Pa, watch me do this!

My boys love to show me how they can climb up the steps super quick. I’m willing to bet other kids do the same or at least something similar. It’s really sweet how proud they get, right? You know what, though, you’re going to miss out on all of this if you don’t SUPERVISE your child(ren). I’m not saying that you need to go sit in the play area like I usually do. At least sit at a table outside the play area and keep an eye on your kids. Please. While I’m on the topic, if you’re all done eating and trash is all thrown away, move to one of the smaller 2-person tables to watch your kids. There’s no need for you to take up the table that would fit the mom and her 3 kids that just walked into the restaurant. Anyways, don’t sit on the complete opposite side of the restaurant and get lost in the latest Facebook gossip. WATCH YOUR CHILDREN. Things can happen in the playground; kids can be mean, kids can fall, kids can pee on the playground because they don’t make to the toilet in time (actually witnessed this a few weeks ago). You know what? I’m not saying that supervising your children will make sure none of those things happen, but I have a feeling they’ll be less likely to happen if they’re being supervised.

What the sock?!

I know that the indoor playgrounds can be considered to be full of germs, so it’s obviously up to your discrepancy if you even go to one, but, if it is not medically necessary for shoes to be worn, please have your kids take their shoes off. The bottoms of shoes can be breeding grounds for nastiness that really just doesn’t belong on indoor play structures. Let them play in their socks then, if you’re worried about germs on the socks, throw them in the wash when you get home. Even thin socks can provide something of a barrier between feet and germs and protect sweet little piggy toes from getting caught on equipment (ouch!).

We don’t need another Scream movie sequel

You know how we usually ask our kids to use their indoor voices? The one without the yelling and screaming? I’m going to make a new version: the indoor outdoor voice. It’s the version of outdoor voice that doesn’t include screaming. Those walls and doors on the indoor playgrounds do help to muffle some of the sounds of happiness/chaos going on, but the screams still come through loud and clear. Like, so loud. As I mentioned, I’m usually on “the inside,” so I get to experience those screams in high definition surround sound. Even with having hearing loss since birth, the screams are STILL loud. lol. I get that they’re excited, but can we please keep the screaming to a minimum and only scream in the event of an actual emergency?

Keep in mind…

I am not trying to offend anyone, I swear.  When it’s all said and done, kids just want to have fun and parents deserve to chill out while the kids are having a blast. Let’s just do our best to make indoor playgrounds an enjoyable experience for everyone.

If you are in South Jersey, check out my lists of indoor and outdoor play areas here!

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