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It’s that time of the year again I dread the most. The time when I become worried, bewildered and just can’t relax - it’s the time of Summer Vacations of my kiddo.
Memories of my own summer vacations include trips to my cousins place, going for activity and hobby classes, sleeping until noon and so much more. As kids, it helped me relax, rejuvenate and enjoy (except of course, the last few days, which were always spent in completing the dreaded holiday homework from school!). In a nutshell, they were the most awaited time period of the year and so much fun.
However over the years times have changed drastically, at-least for me. Today, I dread the time when summer vacations for my 6-year old kiddo come knocking at my door. Due to ‘No-School’, my kiddo is in a state of ‘Full Masti’ and has limited ways of spending his time. And since ours is a nuclear family setup in a large metro city, the onus of constructively channelizing of energy in kids at home falls completely on us – the parents.
And then starts the never ending conversation of a working mother with the uninvited guest - ‘Ms. Guilt’.
Posted to a metro city from our home towns, we working moms already have a lot of commitments seeking our attention. With minimal support available to us (in the form of family, relatives and friends), we parents sometimes are unable to send our kids for co-curricular activities even in vacations. The primary reason for this is the odd hours at which they are conducted, when we are at work and therefore unavailable.
On top of it, with limited leave balance (after deducting sick days, personal work days and not to forget - leaves for maids), trips to our hometowns, visiting friends and family are also limited in number for us (and our kids). We moms practically get no break from our routines and responsibilities and even a seemingly simple break for going out on a movie feels like a huge favor to ask for (I have still not seen BahuBali 2… Sigh!)
During vacations, I frequently experience an increased screen time and lack of structured outdoor play given various factors such as outdoor heat, humidity and limited free space available inside homes for play. This situation is magnified with the unavailability of my kiddo’s friends - they are spending their vacations with their families in their own hometowns. Result - an easily irritable and cranky kid seeking additional time and effort from caregivers.
I feel, 'Ms. Guilt' is here to stay with us moms for some more time (Sigh again!)
Lekin ‘Picture abhi baki hai mere dost!’
On a brighter side, given all these factors, I started exploring ways of keeping children positively engaged and contacted ‘Mr. Google’ for help and rescue. While asking ‘Google Baba’ I stumbled on the new found craze of the upcoming ‘Play Zones’. The more I read about them, the more I found myself warming up to the idea and finally decided to try one. Though a little expensive, the place I visited was large and full of great options for physical activities of kids of all age groups. I found the area to be safe and secure, it was fully foamed up on all sides with no sharp edges which satisfied me. Painted in bright colors, the area emanated a positive and wonderful feeling. The staff was also very cordial and tried their best in keeping an eye on the kids while letting them have fun on their own terms. The best part – Parents were also allowed in and could play with them (Yippieee!!!)
Seeing my child on full enjoy mode through activities like jumping on the trampoline, playing inside the ball pool, on the slides and across the mazes certainly relaxed me. Not only was he having a lot of fun, these varied experiences required him to challenge himself and gave him an opportunity to socialize as well and make new friends by playing with the other kids present there. The concept being new to him took his fancy. And we as parents got the much needed break from continuous running around the kids. An amazing and new experience, the only fallback I felt was that photography was prohibited due to which, as a doting Mom, I was unable to capture wonderful moments with my kids (a habit which I must confess, sometimes becomes quite annoying for my husband :))
I would definitely recommend parents to explore such options in their area. Apart from serving as temporary summer camps, they can also be used to host birthday parties for kids. This of course will need some family budget planning and time scheduling in advance. Kids can also go on family picnics to such play zones and parents can take a breath or two while the kiddo continues to enjoy.
All’s well that ends well :)
After a day full of fun and frolic with quality family time, I can say without a doubt that this play area concept proved to be a good experiment. As the concept grows in popularity and many play areas spring up in neighborhoods, I hope they get more affordable such that we can enjoy such services on a regular basis.
(My previous blog post talks about the importance of constructively channelizing the energy of kids. You can read it here.)