I promised myself when I started this blog that I would never speak, or type, negatively about any local establishment. My purpose was to support local businesses and encourage others to do the same especially local businesses that pertain to motherhood, children, and the like since I myself am in the throes of motherhood. However what I never took into consideration was the fact that the time might come when a local establishment might have me questioning my loyalty.
It all started Sunday evening with a text. I had texted a friend inquiring about getting together later in the week. Our dilemma was we would have our kiddos. She would have her 5-year-old and 1-year-old and I would have my 18-month-old (my 4 & 6-year-old would be in school). So we tossed around a few ideas. We initially wanted to just sit down at a coffee shop and catch up on our lives but that was not going to happen with kiddos in tow. So we decided upon a local indoor playland where the kiddos can bounce in bounce houses and play on indoor playground equipment. It is an establishment our kiddos know well; we have met there for numerous play dates, birthday parties, and random drop-ins to reward good behavior. The only issue I have is the price; it is definitely pricey, for all three of my kiddos to play for an hour cost me $21. So I do try to limit our visits due to the cost however, as I mentioned, I would only have my 18-month-old and she cost $5 for an hour or $8 for all day (which we would not be staying that long because I would have to pick up my preschooler by 11:30am).
The day of our visit…
So, I drop off my 6 year-old at school then continue on and drop off my preschooler at school, stop and get a coffee, and then arrive early at the Indoor Playland (this was a shocker, I am hardly ever early). I am thinking sweet I have a few minutes to read my car book (I like to have a book that is solely a book to be read in the car while I wait for pickup in the afternoon, it is a nice incentive to get there early) however my toddler was not liking this idea. We managed to sit in the car for 10 minutes then she started screaming and so did my bladder, darn coffee. So we headed into the establishment. I explained the situation to the woman behind the counter. I was waiting for a friend to arrive in 20 minutes but my toddler was getting restless in the car and I really needed to use the restroom. So, I gave her $6 (extra dollar to cover the extended time), signed in my daughter, she received the necessary stamp, I removed her shoes, put on her socks, and we then took a mad dash to the restroom.
The next hour played out a little something like this: (it should be noted that they have a toddler area but the problem is the Toddlers do not stay contained in it) Toddler ran around the establishment. I ran around the establishment. Toddler looked at the bounce houses. I tried to get her to go in the bounce house. Toddler looks at me like I am nuts. (I am thinking come on kid; I just spent $6 bounce already!! We can swing and run at the park for free). Our friends arrive at the establishment. We say hello. Toddler tries walking up the slides. I stopped her. I try to squeeze out a sentence with my friend as she runs to the restroom. Toddler runs around the establishment. I run around the establishment. Friend waves as she runs after her child. Toddler is actually in the toddler area for 5 minutes (My friend and I start to have a real conversation but wait…) and then Toddler bolts. I ran after her. Toddler wants to swing. I pushed her in the swing. Friend puts her baby in swing. Finally we can talk, but not for long. Toddler wants out of swing. This continues for about 20 more minutes and then I notice the time, it is 11AM, our time is up. I grab the diaper bag, her coat, and shoes. Sit her down take off her socks, put on her skidders, and coat. Then my darn bladder beckons again (3 kiddos destroyed my bladder and the caffeine doesn’t help either). My friend offers to watch her while I pee, again. So, by the time I am done going to the restroom, getting her ready and saying goodbye it is 10 minutes after 11 (mind you she did not play during that time).
Phew, what a long long long 1-1/2 hours, no time during that stay would I classify as fun, I did not have fun. In fact I would probably call it the most exhausting 1-1/2 hours of the day and so much for spending time with my friend while the kiddos play (in case anyone is taking notes on how to improve this establishment here is an idea, get higher freaking gate in the toddler area, that would be so much more enjoyable for the parents. Also, have the shoes, coats, and an additional restroom separate from the play area this way the parents aren’t getting charged for putting on winter coats, hats, mitten, boots, shoes, and kiddos and parents peeing, that time adds up. Make it more enjoyable for the parents and the kiddos are likely to stay for longer period and come back more frequently. Give playgroups a discount. Have fun days/week, like pajama week or twin day and have the kiddos dress similar to get a discounted price, etc).
As I walk past the woman who greeted us at the beginning of our visit I smile as I am trying to contain my toddler on my hip and say thank you. In my mind I am thinking here is a woman who can probably relate (she seemed to be older and I assumed at one time probably had a toddler of her own). I honestly thought she was going to say something encouraging like “hang in there the toddler phase goes by fast and have a great day” or “ thanks for visiting us again, hope to see you soon”, or even just “goodbye”. After all, while visiting My Urban Toddler last week we were greeted with nothing but open arms. They were so welcoming and wanted to know if there was anything they could do to make our visit more comfortable, and they thanked us for visiting them. That is an establishment that is not in my community; it is 40+ minutes away, but surprisingly cost less, has food for kiddos, comfy spot for moms to sit and converse over a cup of coffee, and is all around accommodating to the parents. Of course I would receive the same, if not better, hospitality from an establishment within my own community. But instead she said “Next time I am going to need the full payment”. WHAT!
I paid $6 to run after my toddler (which is something I can do at home for free) stop her from walking up slides and pushed her in a swing (these are things I can do at the park for free) she has no interest in the gosh darn bounce house (I realize this is a moot point but I still needed to say it). The hourly rate for an 18 month-old is $5 the all day rate is $8. We visited for 1-1/2 hours and paid $6, an extra dollar to cover the “inconvenience period” which entailed me peeing twice and changing my toddler’s shoes, socks, and coat. Are we really having this conversation about the $2?? What about the future visits I will make with all three kiddos that will cost me $21? Or the future kiddo birthday party where we will drop $200+? Are we seriously having a conversation about $2? What about the 100+ members from our local playgroup who I will be divulging this scenario to (in addition to any reader) All because of $2? I walked out to the car. I stood there for a moment trying to process everything.
I am not done….
I turned around, grabbed my wallet with my debit card went back inside and inquired if they accepted a debit card. The same woman stated “yes” and she took my card and swiped it. She began to say something while I signed the receipt but to be totally honest I don’t remember, I was to busy attaining my closure.
Now I am done.
We will cherish the memories.