Isn’t it amazing what kids can do to entertain themselves with the most basic bits and bobs? A random stick from the footpath can become a magic relic that transforms its bearer into a wizard, while a cheap, characterless stuffed toy can turn into a wise friend who offers countless hours of enchanting interaction.
Of course, kids are now into the complex world of internet-connected tablets and the like, which perhaps calls into question how much the above point still stands. Maybe kids are just as subject to the itch for bigger, shinier, more elaborate experiences that can be received passively. That’s why, in my opinion, it’s more important than ever to offer them things to do that are physically active and imaginatively stimulating.
For this reason, I’m a fan of a good indoor play centre. Menai has at least one that I know of. I’m all for outdoor play in nature, but there’s something about the novelty and scale of the play apparatuses in these places that seems to send the kids wild, in a good way.
My first impression was that some of these venues look a bit artificial, but when you get down to it, kids are masters of artifice. That’s what enables them to become a wizard, a mermaid or a dog at will. One look at the endless climbing nets, bouncy blocks, ball pits and giant multi-lane slides, and they’ve released their claim to my phone to go exploring.
I’m starting to think this is the right kind of place to host a kids party. Menai parents, what do you reckon? I know that, where the adults are concerned, there’s something to be said for a stylish backyard ‘do complete with sushi platters and bellinis for the grown-ups. But the kids are just so into this play equipment that it’s hard to make an argument for going to all the effort of having a party at home.
Anyway, there seems to be a sweet spot when it comes to keeping kids occupied, and it’s somewhere between complexity and simplicity.