Watch Your Socks, You're in an Indoor Playground

Ball pits, cushioned slides, hamster tunnels… The Blogfather’s seen a few. Indoor playgrounds are getting pretty popular ?– and in some cases, pretty infamous, too. So to help parents looking to shell out a couple red notes for their child’s sweaty entertainment (and maybe raise a few points for more experienced indoor playgrounders), I sussed out this relatively new industry with the rules of play from some 9 different establishments to give you the lowdown on exactly what you’re paying for.

What You’re Paying For

Safety and Hygiene: As far as the establishment is concerned, you’re promised an environment of good safety and hygiene standards; this means indoor playgrounds will generally check to ensure all the equipment they provide are in good condition (some even go as far as certifying their facilities with European or
international child safety standards), and are regularly cleaned or sanitised. That being said, the safety and hygiene of indoor playgrounds are only as good as the customers they allow in. So indoor playgrounds also observe heath check protocols on anyone, regardless of child or adult, which includes temperature and HFMD checks. Any indoor playground will insist you bring your child (or yourself) home to sleep off the sniffles or chunky cough before coming back to please visit them again.

Security: Some indoor playgrounds also provide a sense of security for parents, installing CCTVs to monitor children’s activities within the confines of their play area. There aren’t many who do this though; remember that you are looking to pay for specialists at child’s play, not security guards. With that in mind, take care of your belongings, and report any suspicious looking articles to the staff, or call 999.

What You’re Not Paying For

Parent/Guardian Supervision Advised: Don’t even think about doing anything elsewhere from the playground while your child is in there. While staff may be trained to handle a playground full of screaming kids that are otherwise allowed to go at it with full abandon in a gigantic hamster cage, the most important thing you need to take note is that most of these places are not daycare centres. Very few indoor playgrounds actually offer childminding services; one major player even goes out of their way to state “We do not provide daycare” in their establishment rules, which kind of gives you a hint of how often parents can take these places for granted.

Indemnity Forms:?Before entry, indoor playgrounds will present you with an indemnity form to sign, telling you that you use their facilities solely?at your own risk, and that the establishment “is not responsible for any injury, loss, theft or damage to patrons howsoever caused, including any injury, loss or damage arising from the negligence of the management or its employees.” This alone makes it compulsory for a parent to stay within the premises while their child is jumping around in there. Also, bear in mind all managed indoor playgrounds will reserve the right to refuse entry or throw out anyone who behaves badly or causes problems in the facility. It isn’t just children, either. The rule can apply to adults who had a few too many beers, bully other kids, or generally gives other people (not just staff) a hard time. So watch it, bub.

Toilet Facilities: And since most of these indoor playgrounds are also located within shopping malls, don’t expect toilet facilities within the compound. Whether it’s Number 1 or Number 2, bring your kid to the loo before stepping in. And if your child is not yet toilet trained, diapers are a must, as are parents or guardians who are on hand to check every 40 minutes or so to see if the little one’s cup has runneth over. There’s other fun stuff for you to take note before venturing into an indoor playground.

Wear Socks: No indoor playground will allow anyone to trample all over their
facilities with grimy shoe soles or sweaty feet, so socks are a compulsory item. If your kid wore sandals or slippers out that day, most establishments have house branded socks for sale, and in various sizes too.

Age and Height Limits: Generally, as long as your kid can walk, most indoor playgrounds will have a place for him or her to go nuts in. Main play areas tend to be catered to children aged 3-12 years, though, so find out if there’s a toddler play area before you begin. There’s a height limit for some places too (generally
resting at 1.45 metres), so if you have a kid with a stature that might qualify him for basketball shoe endorsements, you might want to sign him up for sports lessons instead.

Bring Your IDs: Some places might require your child’s birth certificate and/or your NRICs/passports for age and relationship verification.

Adult Play: While some indoor playgrounds explicit disallow adults to join in the
fracas with their kids (one playground specifically disallows adult entry into their play area unless the child has been injured), a select few actually do allow parents to claim back their lost childhood, if anything, to foster parent-child bonding and encourage self-supervision of children. So check with the establishment before diving into the ball pit.

Don’t Climb Up the Slides:?It’s an early introduction to road traffic regulations; slides are one-way roads. Trying to go up will result in sliding down again anyway (especially with those socks your kid has on), not to mention the 4-5 kid pile up at the bottom that might result if your child decides to play rebel with
this rule.

No Sharp Items: No jewellery, watches, plastic toys, screwdrivers,?pocket knives,?long-handled orange combs, or anything that customs will not allow on planes. For that matter, try not to bring your mobile phone into the play area; it’s next to impossible to find if you lose it if you drop it in the ball pit (first-hand experience).

No Food and Drink: With the exception of formula and drinking water, please don’t send your maid in to tail your kid with a bowl of porridge. A number of indoor playgrounds have in-house cafes with seating for you to feed your child, as well as have yourself a cup of coffee while your child is screaming his or her lungs out in the play area.

All that being said, this is just the establishment rules. Experienced parents may have guidelines of their own to follow, so if you have any, feel free to share what you know in comments.

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