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to wonder why a lot of parents seem to use playbarns as childminders

53 replies

wowwowwubbzywubbzywubbzywowwow · 28/05/2011 12:39

I'm perfectly willing to accept if IABU as I am, by my own admission, quite an overcautious parent but I am shocked everytime I go to playbarns to see toddlers who are only just walking whose parents are nowhere to be seen. I know that they are unlikely to hurt themselves but I've seen lots of scenarios were a parent would have been handy such as a baby who could get into the ballpool but not out who was very distressed until me and another parent helped her out - she was still wandering around the playframe crying 10 mins later when I approached a member of staff to try and find out who was with her - her mum was outside smoking. I've seen little kids getting picked on by older ones and little kids running out of the fire escape out onto the road when an older child opened the door. Was I being unreasonable following dd around like a 'helicopter parent' until she was at least 2 and even now that she's 3 making sure I watch her from the bottom rather than getting engrossed in a book/magazine?

OP posts:

CallMeBubblesEverybodyDoes · 28/05/2011 12:43


My son is almost 2 and I wouldn't leave him alone unless in a fenced off toddler area, and in any case if I do leave him alone I'm at a table nearby and am watching him just not necessarily playing with him. I did the same as you until my older children were around 3 or 4.

The mother you came across who went outside to smoke sounds selfish and probably never watches her child anywhere. My SIL is a bit like that.


wowwowwubbzywubbzywubbzywowwow · 28/05/2011 12:47

Oh yes I do put ds in the toddler area sometimes and get a table where I can see him and a cuppa. But I figure I can see if he's in bother or causing bother to others. It's just the ones that don't even keep an eye out that bother me. It's as if they think the staff are minding them even though there's signs up everywhere saying they aren't!

OP posts:

WriterofDreams · 28/05/2011 12:48

YANBU at all. Littlees really struggle in crowded situations like that and it's horrible to see a toddler all upset and confused :( Plus it's hard to know what to do when a child is struggling because sure as eggs as soon as you move to do something the parent will come along and scream his/her head off at you!


BertieBotts · 28/05/2011 12:49

If the child in question is NOT hurt or bothering other children etc, how do you know the parents aren't keeping half an eye/ear out?

I do tend to go to play centres when I want to talk about things I can't discuss in front of DS, so I'm not following him around constantly and don't necessarily know where he is on the play structure, but I can pick out his cry from the others if he gets stuck or something, and I look around every few minutes to check on him. He's in general chronically shy with unknown children so he tends to be the one being pushed around rather than the other way around.

Ours doesn't have doors which open straight outside though, and in one of the local ones the "big" section has a little fence type thing just big enough for a 3 or 4 year old to climb over, DS can't get over it yet. It seems like a bad design to have a ball pool which can be got into but not out of!


IprivateI · 28/05/2011 12:50

I know it's bad isn't it? I personally use a TV or the computer. Much safer.


WriterofDreams · 28/05/2011 12:50

It's fair enough to let kids run off and keep half an eye on them, the problem is when you see a poor kid who's bawling their eyes out and there's no parent around at all.


BertieBotts · 28/05/2011 12:52

True, that is always upsetting :(


wowwowwubbzywubbzywubbzywowwow · 28/05/2011 12:54

Well I assume the ones that are playing happily are being supervised but I've seen a lot crying/trying to escape/hitting or being hit so surely if a parent was supervising they would intervene in these cases.
The one we go to most is a poor design tbh. The in/out gate has a latch on rather than a magnet and most people leave it open so you usually have to try and stop kids running out past you as you open the main door to go in/out. Surely that's all the more reason to make sure you watch your kids though.

OP posts:

wowwowwubbzywubbzywubbzywowwow · 28/05/2011 12:56

Yes IprivateI because it's obviously a choice of letting your kids slob around at home or to leave one year olds running around crying. You couldn't possibly take them to a play area and actually watch them could you Hmm

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WeirdAcronymNotKnown · 28/05/2011 12:56

Hmm i let my toddler go round our small soft play on his own, but only when it's not crowded - and I only go in school time so there arent any big kids running about. DS was (unlike his big sister) quite clingy as a baby, and letting him wander round and explore for short periods (gradually increasing) has been a great way of helping him get more confident and play with others.

Going outside the building though, and leaving your toddler in there alone (assuming there was nobody else with her?) is pretty bad though.


JeremyKylesPetProject · 28/05/2011 13:06

I don't. In fact I don't take my kids anywhere like that. Its bad enough that every second party invite we get is for there. C'mon parents a bit of imagination please :o I hate these places. Unsupervised bitey kids, kids that monopolise certain areas as their parents can't see them, feeding mums taking over the toddler area rather than the couches provided, the smell of gourmet coffee and poo, plus a big fuck off slide I really want to have a go on but won't just incase my bulk fails to propel down it properly or people point and laugh at the chunk being launched at breakneck speed into netting.


SmethwickBelle · 28/05/2011 13:08

YANBU they can fall backwards off the ramps even when they're confident new walkers - I wouldn't leave a small toddler to their own devices.

I "helicoptered" over DS1 at these places for a fair while, he's nearly 4 now and I'm just about happy to let him disappear from view as I know there aren't any parts he can't navigate. I cast my eyes about every few minutes to ensure he's not in a pickle or being badly behaved.


wowwowwubbzywubbzywubbzywowwow · 28/05/2011 13:13

Lol at JeremyKylesPetProject I agree they are hellish but dd loves them and they are handy for burning of a bit of energy on a wet day. We will probably be sticking to the park for a good while now though if we keep getting this glorious weather.
I was glad I was watching dd the other week as 2 older girls were following her round telling her she was naughty despite the fact she had done nothing at all and one of them pushed her - no sign of a parent (although to be fair they were very big and should probably have been able to be trusted) so I told them off myself as I reserve the right to do when parents don't do it themselves Grin

OP posts:

BertieBotts · 28/05/2011 13:13

They might fall backwards off the ramps?? What, onto the nice soft surface? OH NO!



JeremyKylesPetProject · 28/05/2011 13:19

I took dd2 to one ONCE. Never again. She kept belly-boinging other kids and just randomly shouting "NO!" at them. All the other mums were squinting in my direction with moths like a cats arse.


JeremyKylesPetProject · 28/05/2011 13:20

mouths. Tut.


BoffinMum · 28/05/2011 13:24

I tend to take mine swimming on wet days, as I can't stand these places. Being limited of mobility, when I do have to go, I make DH rush around with the little one and leave any bigger ones to fend for themselves in a Lord of the Flies type way while I drink coffee and count the minutes until we can all escape - they have survived thus far.


BoffinMum · 28/05/2011 13:25

Grin at Jeremykyle's DD.


Ishani · 28/05/2011 13:34

I don't leave my 7 year old in a public place alone but it never seems to be the smoking outside type of parent who gets into trouble. Or rather their child. Maybe they are tough as old boots because they have to be which probably does them no harm in the long run.


GooGooMuck · 28/05/2011 13:36

School hours, hardly any kids, I get to drink tea and read shite magazines, bit of benign neglect - what's not to like?

My DS is 4. I won't leave my table to pee without him. I'm Shock at going outside to smoke.


bidibidi · 28/05/2011 13:59

Was I being unreasonable following dd around like a 'helicopter parent'

You don't get to do that if you have 2 (or more) close in age. You have to prioritise who to keep eyes on or just never go at all. You will need a wee or to change a tampon, later someone is chatting to you & you try to maintain some semblance of manners by not cutting them off mid-sentence constantly. Also, if I didn't bring a book or newspaper my sanity would soon be gone coz there's no other appeal in being there. I rarely go to these places, still I might hope to get a bit a break.

Head down texting madly for long spells & going out to chain-smoke I can be a bit more judgey pants about.


wowwowwubbzywubbzywubbzywowwow · 28/05/2011 14:01

I do have 2 now both under 3 and tend to avoid playbarns unless I go with dh for precisely the reason that I can't watch them both.

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JeremyKylesPetProject · 29/05/2011 11:55

My local one (head over heels) now charges adults to get in. Its become such a rip off.


pink4ever · 29/05/2011 12:08

We go to a softplay place once a week. I always take a magazine or book and leave my dcs to get on with it(and youngest is only just 2-so shoot me!). Kids need to learn to mix with others,share and play together,stick up for themselves and also yes get bumps or fall over.
No I wouldnt go outside(dont smoke) or go to the toilet without letting them know where I am but generally I think letting them run off a bit of steam for a few hours is no bad thing.


lljkk · 29/05/2011 12:15

Why not apply the same rule to other places, too, Wowwow? No going out on your own with 2+ young DC to the shops, to the park, to the woods or beach, to toddler groups, to the swim pool, anywhere -- because many of the same problems of looking after 2 LOs at once on your own.

And they wonder why mothers of young children are at such risk of depression :(.

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