When you’re at home with a toddler, days can get pretty repetitive. Unless you set up different things to do during the week, it can feel like Groundhog Day. Every day involves chasing a football around the living room. My life soundtrack is currently the songs from Baby Genius. It’s worse when it rains – yes, I’ve still not learned to love the rain – because as I don’t drive, there is little to do in the city centre with a toddler and outside of that isn’t much of an option. There are only so many visits to the kiddie library we can do in one week, so I decided one morning that we’d change tack and head to Chuckies Play Zone, the closest soft play centre to us.
It’s not in the city centre, but it is about a five minute walk from a bus stop on the 214 route in Wilton, which isn’t too bad. I’d come here before with E, to have a playdate with other kids and Mama’s from parenting groups I’ve been in, but hadn’t done it solo before. It is also the first time we’ve done it since he started in creche; which means a different way of looking at how he deals with other children.
For toddlers, it’s a fiver in, for up to two hours of play, for older kids (over 2) it’s 7.50. During term time, this includes a free tea or coffee but this is sadly suspended during the summer – and seeing how packed it was in there, it doesn’t seem to have impacted the numbers going. There is free wifi advertised by the door, tea and coffee as well as food being served. For the kids, there are lots of different activities they can do. For E, we’re obviously sticking to the younger end of things – there is a toddler area for under 3’s, and a bigger area for under 5’s – anything apart from these is a bit out of our age range at the moment.
The toddler area is full on soft play, it contains a playhouse, a ball pit and numerous soft foam slides and shapes. E definitely got a kick out of the ball lifter which blew air and pulled the balls up through a tube and back into the ball pit. It really is the tiny things which give the most entertainment. We had a bit of a near miss when he wanted to do something that another child was doing. The other child was having none of it, but he was quickly escorted away to do something else and distracted before anyone got upset. There’s also a mirror wall which my vain little man loved – nine different ways to look at himself, who could ask for anything more?
A recent development in Chuckies is their disco area – the music playing varied from One Direction, to Hanson, to Mambo No 5 – with two disco lights which had E enthralled, and lots of space to get his dance on. It seemed to go down well with other children there as well, especially the girls, but E ignored all of them and focused on his own boogie.
It wouldn’t be a trip to a soft play centre if I didn’t have to partake, now would it? Since E has started walking in particular he has become fearless – and he doesn’t have his Mammy’s fear of heights to contend with! He was really enjoying the pre-school section which is aimed at kids a little bit older – a much deeper ball pit, giant lego and a huge rainbow slide. I found myself going down the slide more than once in our hour and a half there. This was more so to stop him from diving down head first which he thought was a great idea – but it was definitely fun and he seemed to like that I was getting involved with it as well. I did have a moment of doubt when we were up there – I made the mistake of looking down – but the look on his face made it all worth it. Not content with going down, he also tried multiple times to climb up – can’t say he doesn’t love a challenge.
As something to keep kids busy, I’d definitely recommend it – it is a bit out but if you drive it should be no issue. I’d love if there was something like this in the city centre, to break up a day of wandering the shops and to tire the little man out. He slept very soundly last night! The one caveat I have is their coffee – I’d definitely go for a tea next time, the coffee I got was just not nice; even with sugar, so might give it a miss in future.
I’m sure this is set to become a staple activity as the colder weather starts to set in. I would definitely recommend a trip to Chuckies for a break to wear out the kiddies in Cork!
For more things to get up to in Cork City with kids, check out the stuff I’d recommend so far!
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