Before and After: Indoor play centers change lives

There’s a fair bit of pressure to be the best aunt at the moment, so finding a place in Melbourne that does kids parties and activities should get me across the line. . I’ve gone from the zoo, to the museum, to the ferry and every beach ice-cream stall since my sister had her fourth baby- I’ve been taking the middle two kids out a lot while the eldest is in school and my sister catches her breath and tries to figure out the newborn, who won’t sleep.

Thursday last week, I arrived at her house to something that frightened me. The kids were WILD. My sister couldn’t hold a sentence together. They had only just made it to drop the eldest

off to school, and apparently hadn’t been able to leave the house since Monday afternoon. My sister begged me to wear the kids out. They’d been begging me a few weeks to take them to an indoor play center. Melbourne has some great ones.

“Please, just take them to a play centre where they can run. They have cabin fever. I can’t fix it with any more television. They need to burn off all the toast I’ve been feeding them. Can you make sure they eat some fruit and get a good sweat up? Please?”

Of course I obliged, and wracking my brains for a solution to the problem- my sister didn’t seem to notice it had been raining all morning, suddenly it hit me: I’d take them to the indoor activity center.

What I failed to tell my sister was that I almost hadn’t made it due to crazy insomnia myself. I hadn’t slept the previous night, and running late, I needed coffee badly. The gods were with me this day, because the indoor play arena I took the kids to makes the kind of coffee that matters- parental strength.

This play-date was a roaring success if I do say so myself. The children were absolutely exhausted after spending time at the the kids party venue. Carrum Downs thankfully has a few restaurants with healthy food that the kids can enjoy to recharge after play.

The difference after the kids had been run around was incredible. In the car, they’d been cheeky, jumpy and fought with each other. On the way home, they were different little people- volunteering information about life with the baby. It was this contrast that made me realise why my sister seemed so desperate that morning.