Thanks to a monster house going up behind my house, I have run over many nails and other construction paraphernalia. Luckily, I bought my tires from Discount Tire and all I have to do is show up, point out the problem, and they repair or replace my tires - no questions asked.
So, yesterday, I got my older girls off to school, loaded up my 3-year-old and headed to Discount Tire with yet another screw stuck into the side of my tire. Luckily, this one didn't puncture anything important. I had made an appointment so I basically handed them my keys with relief.
But then the hard part started. I was stranded in their lobby with a 3-year-old. Now, they have a very clean lobby with bright sunshine streaming in. And they had multiple display racks of tires all over the place. Sooooo, what do YOU think my sweet cherub wanted to do as we waited? That's right -- she crawled INTO the tires.
You know where this is going, right?
Discount Tire needs a PLAYTIME play area for toddlers! This particular location had PLENTY of room for one of PLAYTIME's Little Footprints play areas. And can you imagine how fun it would be to walk into a tire store and set your child loose in a custom-designed play area that looks like -- wait for it -- a tire display?! My child would have gone bananas (in a good way).
And let's not forget all the poor people who had to wait WITH me and my darling daughter. The man trying to read his book would have loved a toddler playground at Discount Tire. The woman who looked like a nun would have liked a toddler playground at Discount Tire. The poor employee who was checking in new customers -- sneaking polite, nervous smiles at me as I chased my energetic child around his lobby -- would have liked a toddler playground at Discount Tire.
I ended up out in the parking lot, letting her throw rocks around. After an hour of trying to manage her, my car was done... but I was ready for a nap!
So, now my question to YOU! Where else would you like to see a PLAYTIME playground for toddlers? Target! (like, duh, right?) Wal-Mart! Chipotle! Tell me!
I have to show you a picture of a toddler play element that astounds me. It's a fish. Yes, a fish. A gorgeous, three-dimensional, soft, colorful fish that children can play on.
Now, imagine if you will, the artistry that went into creating that single play element for children. It started as a big block of Styrofoam! A PLAYTIME sculptor had to carve the fish from Styrofoam. Then, it was placed in a humongous vault where it was coated over and over with what PLAYTIME lovingly calls "goop." Once dried, the artists had a rather sickly looking, yellowish fish upon which to create this masterpiece.
The PLAYTIME artists sketch by hand and on fancy computer equipment to arrive at the design they want on the fish. But do you know how those colors actually get onto the fish? Hand-painted. Airbrush artists and fine artists hand-paint each PLAYTIME play element and their skills make it possible for the creatures and objects to look real or completely fantastical.
Check out this hand-painted turtle! Unlike the fish, it is painted by our wildlife art specialists to look like a real turtle.
When toddlers see these playgrounds, they go "ga ga!" (sometimes literally.)
I find it inspiring. With three children who have all enjoyed PLAYTIME's world-class play areas, I know that their eyes light up when they see these gorgeous, vibrant play pieces. I also know that their brains light up. Their powerful imaginations take off and suddenly they are swimming with fish and riding turtles.
I would so much rather have my toddler and elementary school children playing on a PLAYTIME play area than crawling through tubes and tunnels. Thanks for the toddler playgrounds, PLAYTIME!
I was recently lucky enough to travel through the Dallas - Fort Worth International Airport where they have NOT ONE, NOT TWO, but THREE indoor play areas for toddlers! Sadly (depending on your point of view), I didn't have my kids with me. But do you think that stopped me from visiting the indoor playground? Not. A. Chance.
There are so many reasons that I love PLAYTIME's indoor playgrounds. Yes, of course, the soft play structures are key. But I also love many of the playground features that they add to make sure the experience is fun and safe for kids -- and managable for parents. For example, the safety flooring and the shoe cubbies!
Kids need to remove their shoes to play properly on the soft play equipment. Oh, sure, it keeps the equipment in better condition, but the REAL reason kids should take off their shoes and socks is because they can climb better! So, can you imagine what it would be like if all those kids chucked their shoes all over the place? Bedlam. And who needs MORE bedlam as a parent? Not I. The shoe cubbies keep the play area orderly.
And how about that soft playground flooring? I think I've mentioned my love for PLAYTIME's carpet before. Seriously, the cute ladybugs and towering trees are great but they'd lack "oomph" without the context and color that the gorgeous flooring provides! And, even better, it's soft! I have three children now, so I hardly blink when they fall. (Poor kids. It takes a lot to get a rise out of Mom these days.) But I do love the fact that my youngest can climb and crawl all over the place, take a tumble, and she actually thinks that's part of the fun because the flooring is so soft.
I've seen my share of indoor playgrounds for toddlers and, honestly, there is no comparison to the play area features that PLAYTIME creates. They think of everything!
I live in Denver, where we just got smacked with a bunch of snow (thank goodness! we need it!) and FREEZING temperatures (9 degrees this morning.) Where can a cabin-fever-crazed mama take her toddler for playtime?!
Thank goodness the mall near my house, Cherry Creek Shopping Center, has a soft, indoor playground for children. If you live in Denver, you know this mall. If you live in Denver and you have children, you LOVE this mall because it has one of the best-ever soft playgrounds. Not only is it big enough for lots of children to play, but it features some of my favorite Warner Bros. characters!
Sponsored by Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children (where my daughter just got her second set of ear tubes. YES, I did think fondly of the sponsored play area when I arrived at the hospital, so there's good brand exposure, I'd say!), The Rocky Mountain Play Park includes all the adventurous activities that we can do here in Colorful Colorado.
The themed Play Park features Bugs Bunny as he takes a "carrot break" from his hike, a river raft ride with Sylvester and Tweety, a slide with Porky Pig and Martin the Martian, the Tazmanian Devil, Elmer Fudd, and much, much more.
While we're there, I always wander the mall -- it's better than going back to my house and playing blocks yet one more time. Often, I meet my friends there and we get some grown-up talking and shopping done. See?! Everyone's happy!
So, when the weather outside is frightful, and my toddler is not so delightful, I know exactly where to take her!
Lately, it's been hard to feel creative. Maybe it's the steel-gray clouds outside. Maybe it's my washable-marker fatigue. But I have not been very good lately about finding great playtime outlets for my kids. This is yet another reason that I am a fan of the soft playgrounds that you can find at malls, restaurants and parks these days!
I know every mom has "been there." You have bags of materials for your kids to play with -- water colors, funky papers, crayons, Play Doh, pipe cleaners, tongue depressers, balloons, glow sticks, straight jackets (wait, is that just me?) and yet you look at the stuff and think (like a kid staring into a jam-packed refrigerator who thinks there's nothing to eat), "There's nothing to do!"
Those are the moment when I really need my children to entertain themselves. But, as I've said before, I'm no rookie at this motherhood gig. I'm not going to set them loose and leave the room while they play with water colors, pipe cleaners, glitter, glue and glaze. Rather, I want to set them loose at a soft playground!
My nearby mall, Cherry Creek Shopping Center in Denver, has an AWESOME soft play area where I often see friends setting their kids loose for playtime, too. There we are... SITTING TOGETHER! Yes, I said sitting. Together. Enjoying coffee while our children climb, tunnel, slide and gallop around the squishy, soft playground like little bandits. I stare at them thinking, "Thank goodness they're not trashing my home right now." No, wait. I mean, I sit there thinking, "What lovely bundles of joy they are."
You see, Moms need playtime, too! We need our kids to romp... not on our bodies as if we're jungle gyms made for their climbing pleasure ... but on equipment made for their little hands and feet, on carpet that cushions their bounces, on themed elements that inspire their rapid-fire imaginations.
I'm so grateful to the malls and other retailers who provide me and my children with these outlets. I guarantee that those are the places where I get my shopping done... because I CAN get my shopping done.
Let's here it for a little playtime!
I just interviewed Lisa McCracken at Charleston Town Center in Charleston, WV and she told me about one of the coolest soft play areas ever. Not only is it fun for children but it's educational, too.
Lisa told me that West Virginia is considered the most obese state in the nation. Sadly, that trend is affecting its children tremendously, with rapidly increasing rates of Type II Diabetes among children. It turns out, the children aren't playing as much as they should. They're watching too much television and drinking too many sugary drinks.
Enter Charleston Area Medical Center. This progressive hospital reached out to Charleston Town Center and said, "If you build a soft play area for children, we'll sponsor it." Together, the two entities decided to provide the community with a healthy-themed play area unlike any play area I've ever written about!
This indoor play area targets toddlers and preschoolers because, says Lisa, "Research shows that the younger you can share healthy messages, the more likely they are to stick with people into a healthy adulthood."
This soft play area includes a Twister game in the carpeting with the spinner on the wall, as well as carrots, grapes and broccoli for climbing and sliding. The safety carpeting also includes a path that children can follow with their parents, stopping to do jumping jacks and toe-touches along the way.
This new indoor play area follows the goals set forth in the national 5-2-1-0 Initiative. (See a video here.)
Lisa said that many, many people and organizations in the state of West Virginia are working hard to change their citizens' habits. It seems to me that getting children to PLAY MORE should be a mission we could all get behind and, like my daughter always screams when I'm pushing her on the swing, "Push higher!"
I am Mama! Hear me Roar! I am tired of tubes and tunnels for playgrounds! Why does commercial indoor playground equipment have to be made of hard plastic? Or consist of elements that block my view of my child? Or make me squeamish by the very thought of the germs, old food and who-knows-what stuck in the riveted seams?
Hear me retailers and fast food providers! You're turning me away with those tubes and tunnels!
I like (no, I love) soft playgrounds. First of all, I never lose sight of my child. That's key to my sanity and my enjoyment of your establishment. Secondly, whenever I've visited malls or stores with commercial indoor playground equipment, I actually witness them cleaning it! And it looks easy! There are no nooks and crannies where bugs and food hide in wait for my child. Third, soft playgrounds are... well, soft! The squishy, huggable elements allow my daughter to climb and crawl all over them without fear of pinches or stumbles.
And there's another reason that I adore soft commercial indoor playground equipment: It inspires my daughter's imagination. PLAYTIME is the absolute best at creating entire three-dimensional landscapes in which my daughter invents stories and adventures.
For example, check out the new soft playground at Pine Centre Mall! I swear, a kid could go "camping" there, pretend to hide from bears, catch fish in the pond, roast marshmallows or climb a tree!
There's simply no comparison. It even LOOKS healthier and safer.
PLAYTIME creates custom, themed commercial indoor playground equipment for shopping centers, museums, zoos, airports, restaurants, and more! What a beautiful, playful, safe world it would be if we could install PLAYTIME around the globe! (Hey, a mama can dream.)
My daughter is two years old and she goes to a childcare facility with... well... OLD daycare playground equipment! The faculty and staff at this program are amazing! They're all uber-educated, the center is accredited up the yin-yang and my daughter learns basic skills and kindness. But the first impression that prospective parents get when they walk on the grounds is of a run-down, old facility.
The center needs PLAYTIME's amazing outdoor soft play equipment. The colors alone would add a vibrancy that would instantly appeal to children and give parents the best first impression possible. Yes, daycare playground equipment can give a make-or-break impression for parents.
Let's face it: when parents search for the people and the place where they want to leave their children for hours and hours each day, they're picky.
Even fitness centers know the value of appealing play equipment. Some even use gorgeous play equipment to sell memberships to their gym! Greenwood Athletic and Tennis Club replaced their old, hard plastic play structures with PLAYTIME and say that their memberships jumped. Same with the Newton Athletic Club.
There is much for daycare providers to love about PLAYTIME. It's naturally antibacterial, accessible to children of different abilities, easy to clean, and durable.
“Our daycare playground equipment from PLAYTIME stays clean through rain and snow,” says Dianne Petersen, Director of Kid Zone Childcare Center. “The pieces handle our weather really well. They are very low maintenance.”
And, honestly, PLAYTIME's soft playground equipment is just more fun than plastic picnic tables and hard plastic slides. It even encrourages kids to use their imagination!
Clearly, I'm a mom on a mission.
First, a bit about me. Yes, you guessed it: I’m a mom.
I live in Denver and I have three girls (gulp). Delaney is 9, Alexandra (Allie) is 8 and Mae is 1. (Bonus baby!) I’m a freelance writer so I “make my way” with words, which allows me to work from home. Of course, that has its pluses and minuses. More on that as my blogs unfold.Now, a bit about PLAYTIME.
I love this company, so I don’t mind “pimping their wares.” If you’ve ever enjoyed a play area in a mall, chances are PLAYTIME created it. They also create water park play elements and outdoor playground equipment. Simply put, this is the company that helps us get through the day – helping us give the kids some entertainment while we sip some java, or shop, or catch up with friends, or (dare I say it?) just SIT! A blessed concept.
So, why would you even want to read this blog? Like, so what, right? A mom is writing for a company that makes play stuff.I want to tell YOUR stories!
I want you to help me keep my finger on the pulse of what moms want. What are your kids into? Tell me your hilarious stories (I don’t care if they happen at a play area.)
Send me cute photos. Send me videos of your kids playing at a PLAYTIME indoor, outdoor or water area. Or, just upload them directly to our YouTube page.(add link)I’ve also got loot to share!
I get to give away T-Shirts and prizes, and I’ll keep you posted on any indoor, outdoor or water play area grand openings happening in your neck-o-the-woods.This really is a mom-spot.
Help me connect moms in your area! Is there an awesome play group meeting at a play area once a week or once a month near you? Tell me!
And finally, I’m not always going to write about PLAYTIME. This really is a mom-spot. We can write about the applesauce on the walls, the terrible twos and rolling around in the backyard with happy babies. This is about US.
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Check out the new exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art
and felt fortunate to visit there last week. It's so stinkin' fun, let me tell you about it!
In 1900, Swedish design reformer and social theorist Ellen Key predicted what she called "the century of the child." In her book of the same title, she predicted that the coming century would be preoccupied with the rights, development and well-being of children.
The new MoMA exhibit chronicles the built environment of children starting in 1900 through 2000. It includes the design of toys, books, playgrounds
, schools, political propaganda and therapeutic products.
Now, that sounds very cerebral and whatnot, but you have got
to check out the website
for a taste of the FUN
. This website combines awesome design and programming with photography of toys and other children's items dating back to 1900, and it includes a timeline of major events taking place as the toy or book or playground was emerging on the scene.
For example, you should see the high chair from an indoor play area
that was developed right around the same time that Bauhaus was founded in Germany!
You can also do what I did and find the toys that came out about the time you were born. It's a bit startling to see how far we've come in the FEW years since I was a child. (OK, not so few...)
Of course, all this brings me back to PLAYTIME
. At right about the turn of the newest century -- 2000 -- this company was born. Its indoor, outdoor and water play element
s illustrate what is important to parents today -- we want our kids to learn through play; we want them to be safe; we want them to use their imaginations; we want them to feel free to explore and romp. At the same time, we are probably busier than parents of any other decade -- it's hard to get by on one income these days, so parents have to make play time a priority or it may not happen at all.