I am here to tell you, Chicago Mamas, that I have found three GREAT indoor mall play spaces for us to take over once Mother Nature starts to rear her “Dear Chicago, I hate you!” head. They are clean, well kept, and usually filled with the right amount of kids so you won’t have a scalding spill while trying to keep tabs on your little one while enjoying a much deserved cup of coffee.
My first recommendation is a play space that we frequent often on super hot or super chilly days…the play space at Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg. It is located right outside of the Macy’s, so it is easy to get to and there are two great resources nearby–a bathroom and a yogurt shop for a special treat. There is seating throughout the play space so it is pretty easy to keep track of my little ones from afar, and it is relatively convenient for striking up conversation with potential “mommy friends.” There are a bunch of solid structures for the kiddos to climb on/into/slide down, so it is great way for them to burn off some energy before you strap them in the stroller to hit a few stores.
The second play space, the tree house at Northbrook Court, is a little bit farther from us, but close to Daddy’s work so it is a perfect place to meet him for some fun on his lunch break. I love that the space is covered in soft flooring and that it is focused on playing with nature. There is slide and some ladders built into the “tree” and there are insect and animal learning displays embedded into it as well. The only downside of this play space is that sometimes your kids can hide inside the tree so it is hard to keep an eye on them at all times. Nevertheless, it is a fun space…and there is a yogurt shop located next to it as well. Notice the common theme? Play spaces & Yogurt Shops…they should have a business partnership! Or maybe they do…
There is also a brand NEW (read: clean) play area on the second floor of Northbrook Court. Read more about its design and amenities here.
Anyway, here are some of my tips for having a ball at play spaces with your kiddos:
–Get there EARLY. Many malls open before the stores do for mall walkers, and since you are probably up early with your kiddos anyway, why not hit up the play spaces when they are less crowded?
–Dress both you and your kiddos comfortably. It is no fun chasing kids in heels. ‘Nuff said.
–Put your kiddos in bright colored shirts…it is easier to pick them out from a crowd of kids.
–Always make sure to have plenty of hand wipes, hand sanitizer, bandaids, water, and kleenex. Oh, and of course, cash for the yogurt shops!
–Remind your kiddos about what to do if they get lost or if someone is treating them a way they want to be treated. After consistent reminders, my boys have been pretty good at telling “handsy” kids–“No, I don’t like that!” so they can remedy the situation without parent intervention.
–Have an escape plan. Play spaces are super fun so kids tend to not want to leave, so either remind your little ones of how many more minutes they have left to play, or guide them back home with something equally motivating as playing, such as some delicious snacks or the chance to check out a water fountain (works every time for us).
Looking for other places to escape the cold and wet weather? Then this page is for you.