Normally, I’d like to play with my little man at home. It was so much easier and I can always control the environment. But I know there are times he wants to go outside. Of course I’d like that too but the hassles of going out (getting ready, packing, traveling, parking, costs, etc.) are sometimes stopping me from doing so. Also, he needs to be exposed socially and the exercise as well. It was easier to go out during the time that I stopped working. Life was easier then and I got time in my hands. We have been on some paid play areas before and it was fun. But I’d like to cut back on some of the hassles – most especially the cost part of it. So I looked at free play areas. Here are some more of my free play area requirements:
- Food availability at reasonable cost.
- Free wi-fi connection.
- If the above is not available, I should at least have something to do besides taking pictures and playing with my kid.
- Free parking.
- Close to neighborhood.
When I was younger (which isn’t so long ago), you can expect to find play areas in fast food chains. It’s like a requirement I guess. But these hard times, some of them have removed the play areas and used the space to accommodate more eating customers. Also, with the booming industry of paid play area, most of them either started to charge turned the place into a more profitable venture. Thus, the play areas in fast food chains became pretty extinct. Most of the play areas I found are pretty close to my neighborhood which is a real plus for me but I have made a list below of free play areas:
Trinoma Activity Area. Located in Trinoma Ground floor. This play area can be packed during the weekends because there were pretty much a lot of kids when we went there on a Monday morning. The mall’s got free wi-fi too.
Jollibee. Depends on the branch. Correct me if I’m wrong but I think most malls do not have play areas for Jollibee anymore. Although the Crossings mall along Quezon Avenue does have a play area in it. Other locations I saw that have play areas are the Frisco, Del Monte Sienna, Malabon-Concepcion and Blue Wave at Macapagal Avenue branches.
Burger King. Depends on the branch. We chanced upon the Timog branch which has a play area, close to my neighborhood, free parking and free wi-fi. Not only can I twit, I was also able to do some work. The Timog branch is probably my favorite because it meets all of my FREE play area requirements. We were here last Sunday and for some reason, the place was almost like it is on a weekday. Not much customers.
The Home Depot. Yeah, they have it! Depends on the branch though. The Balintawak branch has play area in it but it is probably the worst play area I have ever seen. I hope they do improve this one on this branch. With how big their South branch is, I’m pretty sure it’s got a wonderful play area. Anyone who can confirm that?
McDonald’s. Depends on the branch. Lately, I’m not seeing play areas in McDonald’s branches but I hear there are a few ones that still have. UPDATE June 15, 2011: The Quezon Avenue branch (across the Crossing mall) got most of my requirements above. This is where Jack Jack spent a week last month for their Kiddie Crew Training. UN Avenue branch has one too.
Airports. UPDATE August 31, 2011: Great when you’re traveling.
The keyword on these play areas is that they are FREE. And since they are free, expect a large crowd of little monsters (Don’t hate me. They change skins once they are in the play area.) swarming in it during the holidays or the weekends.
If your kid is below 4 years old or is not the wrestler- or fighter-type, I’d strongly suggest keeping him out of the play area if you can! or keeping a good eye on him while in the play area. I prefer to go on a weekday morning. Most of the kids are at school and you’d almost always have the play area to yourself. Pro: No rowdy brat is going to push your kid. You don’t have to worry so much. Con: The absence of a playmate is going to bore your kid. Pro: You can go home earlier!
Tips for a better free play area experience:
- Make sure the area is safe for running around, bumping, tripping and falling. Kids do so much of that.
- Check that the surfaces are clean. Maybe not microscopically clean, but at least clean to the naked eye. If you are germophobic like me, I don’t mind a little invisible germ on my kid. (I swear that last sentence was pretty hard to throw. I might have needed therapy to say that if it weren’t for this blog.) I believe it somehow enhances his immune system so I’m fine with that. However, the deciding point of cleanliness is still up to you. If you think the play area is dirty, you have every right in the world to leave. That is, if you can still pull your kid away! Ha! If the play area becomes suddenly dirty (food spills or pee or please forbid poop from an unsupervised kid), remove your kid from the area and call the attention of a staff member – to clean and sanitize the area.
- Supervise your kid – especially if your kid is too young (less than 4 years old). Paid play areas have their staff look after your kid too, but it isn’t as vigilant as if you are watching. Also, to make sure that the above points are being met. Always.
I’m still looking for more free play areas because I want to ride a swing and there’s none from the list above. If you have more tips or location(s) of another FREE play area that you can add, shoot me a comment below. Preferably with a swing. It can be located anywhere in the world. You never know when I’ll be visiting your neighborhood. I will update the post to add more to the list from your comments and If I discover more.
- Manila Domestic Airport is a Mama-Baby-Kid Friendly Zone (thelazymama.net)
- Enter the Man Room (thelazymama.net)