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From Playgrounds to PlayTouch: PLAYTIME Serves My Tweenagers

 

I've written a lot about my 3-year-old. She and I are PLAYTIME regulars, visiting shopping centers, lifestyle centers, restaurants and even water parks with PLAYTIME playground equipment. But have I mentioned that I also have two tweenagers? No?! Well, that's IMG 1192because -- quite honestly -- they have outgrown the soft playground experience, literally. They are too tall! But now, PLAYTIME has answered yet another of my Mommy Prayers, with PlayTouch.

PlayTouch powered by PLAYTIME is a state-of-the-art video game console with a screen that supports high-definition, three-dimensional (HD/3D) play. With a 22-inch screen and more than 100 games in six languages, PlayTouch game consoles are the perfect complement to PLAYTIME’s soft play areas! Now, retailers, dentists, hospitals and restaurants can entertain every kid in the family -- with soft play or PlayTouch!

I have darling pictures of my two older girls (now 10 and 11) playing in the nearby mall playground when they were 2 and 3. DARLING! The pigtails, the sweet dresses, the eager-to-please faces.  Now, though, those two kids simply humor me as I haul their little sister to the soft playgrounds around our city. They think their little sister is cute, but they're too tall to play with her.

Imagine my joy when PLAYTIME recently released PlayTouch!  These awesome game consoles are super-easy for businesses to install (just plug-n-play) and they have games that my girls can't find ANYWHERE else, so the experience is brand new for them.

So, this mama is on a mission (a Mama-Mission!). I would like to see my kids' dentists and pediatricians, our city's shopping centers, and even nearby restaurants install these game consoles. THEN (oh, I can hardly write this without giggling insanely) ALL THREE OF MY CHILDREN WILL BE ENTERTAINED AT THE SAME TIME AT THE SAME PLACE!!  Dare I dream?

And can you even imagine how moms would flock to businesses that know how to entertain kids of every age? FLOCK, I tell you.

Thanks - AGAIN - PLAYTIME, for responding to a need!  Moms need this. Businesses need this. Pediatricians and denists need this.

Let the FLOCKING begin!


Mall Playgrounds and Social Media

 

I recently had the opportunity to interview Krystal Hurst, owner of DallasMomsBlog.org.  She has the very rewarding job of -- yes, motherhood, of course -- but also of connecting other parents in the Dallas area to each other.  She does this primarily through social media: her blog and Facebook.DMB inset

I interviewed Krystal because DallasMomsBlog (DMB) recently hosted a booth at the grand opening of Galleria Dallas' new indoor playground!  Krystal believed it was worth her company's time and money to host this booth because parents from the Dallas area would be flocking to the new indoor playground, which was created by PLAYTIME.

She said, "Play areas in malls are very important, especially in Texas. It's the end of May and it's already 90 degrees here. It can be very hard to find a place to go to beat the heat. With a mall playground, we can go there, play, have lunch, come home and put the kids down for a nap.  It's nice to go and do multiple things rather than just go to the park and go home."

Krystal even helps Dallas parents to set up play dates at the mall playground, and she arranges moms' nights out and even a date night this coming summer. All of these efforts are aimed at the goal of helping parents create community during a time in their lives when it can be easy to feel isolated.

"I hear from moms all the time who say that, when they found DMB, they found a network and wanted to be a part of it," says Krystal. "They say, 'I thought I was alone.'"

So, here's the PLAYTIME MOM confession:  My oldest daughter is 11, nearly 12, and my youngest daughter is 3.  I can tell you that in the years between their births, the rise of social media has been remarkable, and its ability to help moms is invaluable.  When my oldest was born, I had no idea how to connect with other moms. The Internet was just coming into its own. There was no texting and nary a smartphone to be found. Compared to today, it was like mothering in a cave.

Now, with my 3-year-old, I can plan playdates at mall playgrounds just by swiping my finger across my phone, check out my favorite moms groups on Facebook, moan about sick kids and dirty floors to appreciative audiences -- feeling like part of a community!

I'm grateful to mom media like DallasMomsBlog for arranging playdates at soft playgrounds and for helping me to feel less isolated -- in both my hard days and my great days!

You’re not alone. We’re all stuck in our house sometimes. Get online and feel like part of a community!

Toddler Play Areas -- Where do YOU Want One?

 

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.discount tires needs playtime resized 600

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!

 

Toddler Play Areas - Created With Love (and talent!)

 

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.

toddler play piece at Westfield Capital

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.hand-painted playground elements

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!

Play Area Features - Ingredients for Fun!

 

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.PLAYTIME Mom visits toddler playground

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!

Oh the Weather Outside is Frightful! Where to go for Playtime?!

 

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?!For playtime opportunities, visit your nearby mall!

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!

Even Moms Need Help Coming up With Playtime

 

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."Playtime at the mall

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!

Soft Play Equipment Can Be Fun, Educational and Gorgeous

 

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.charleston town center blog image

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!"

PLAYTIME is the BEST at Commercial Indoor Playground Equipment!

 

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?Themed commercial indoor playground equipment

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.)

Daycare Playground Equipment: No More Plastic Picnic Tables!

 

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 outdooOld merry go roundr 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.PLAYTIME's daycare playground equipment

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.

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