A Tot-ally Messy Time

I had been wanting to go to this play centre and area of discovery for both tiny tots and bigger kids for a while now. The reasons were three-fold:

  • It was in my town.
  • I have a child, and wanted to see how much fun it would be for her, and
  • I wanted to compare it against The Hungry Peacock, where I had been to twice since my first visit as part of a blogging experience in 2016.

It was a little bit cheeky, but I went in with these thoughts in mind. Which was superior? Which would keep the kids entertained more? What was, similar? I have it on insider knowledge that the peeps who started The Hungry Peacock with the existing owners, well they had wanted to do things a different way and clearly had other kids play area ideas in mind… and so The Messy Shed rebelliously was born from those peeps, to formulate those ideas into reality.

It was the Autumn school hols that saw me take baby girl along to meet with her two cousins and their Mum, for a midweek visit. We were booked for a 10:30am session, as there are times that you pick online, or when you call in… however on arrival we decided to also add the play centre addition, for an extra $5. The kids would get messy and creative and do all kinds of things for 45 minutes, before continuing the fun in the play centre area, for as long as they liked.

We got in nice and early, so the 3 girls, two aged 5 and one at 2, had a good go at exploring before more kids arrived.

IMAG8211

Sorting in a scavenger hunt.

IMAG8208

Water play and squirting.

IMAG8233

Sand art and castles.

IMAG8215

Pretend house.

IMAG8225

Make your own tube tunnels.

IMAG8237

Various games and tasks.

IMAG8223

And my fave… the swing!

This one got pretty busy after baby girl had her go, and the line turned long very quickly. Kids climbed onto a low hammock type swing, tummy down, and were given a piece of chalk to draw on the floor with while they pushed themselves around with their feet… even I wanted to do that one!

To my amusement and wonder I noticed a nearby corner where a kids hairdresser was located! It was partitioned from the rest of the messy area, but was clearly visible… why, how CLEVER.

Play, and then… “let’s cut your hair Tommy!”

😉

Lots of Mums had gotten coffees from the nearby café offering café-style simple treats and drinks, but we wanted to save ourselves, and wait for after…

IMAG8210

45 minutes was plenty of time for our girls, and perhaps too long. Our older girls in particular were finding themselves walking around and repeating the same tasks, and I had to wonder then, had they outgrown the ‘messy play’ stage, or was it something else?

I thought of the two times I had taken baby girl to The Hungry Peacock, and quickly realised… The Messy Shed had activities geared slightly towards the younger child. The Hungry Peacock, the older child.

As soon as the 45 minutes were up we were off, grabbing a table in the adjoining room so we could watch our kiddies run around an indoor playground, and drink coffee and eat some chips while doing so.

IMAG8264

They were having a great time, but I don’t need to tell you that… playcentre, kids, they are synonymous with GOOD TIME.

We were there for a while when we saw the side door to the right of the large room, that seemed to be the gateway for another play area…

IMAG8251

It is called Totsville, an interactive town, where kids can act out different roles usually assigned to adults, but in smaller form, so they can join in on the exploration and fun! We saw a number of kids going in and out, and after seeing some adults on the other side supervising their broods, we decided stuff it, ‘let’s also go to Totsville.’

Baby girl’s cousins Mum bought us ‘access’ and so we went to wait for the hour to be up so the last group could head out, before we could go in.

And after discussing with her how we thought The Hungry Peacock had more activities for our 5 year old girls to be enjoying, suddenly, we were eating our words.

IMAG8252

IMAG8268

It was really, really good.

They stayed in there for the whole hour, not bored at all. They put on uniforms, acted out roles as roadworkers, postal service workers, vets, sailors, and café assistants amongst other things. We helped them out and played with them at times, letting them cater to us with their ‘pretend’ coffees.

IMAG8274

IMAG8281

😉

It was a great time, and a terrific concept… the only issue we found was, for a play area that was only garnered for those who paid to enter, with new groups accessing it on the hour, well there was no one keeping score.

We counted a whole lot of kids who went in and out, not accompanied by any adult, and with no staff nearby to check.

Had those kids really paid? Were they bored by it? Could we have gotten away with not paying either?

Of course we did pay, but yet we felt a little foolish after seeing the free-for-all for Totsville and all the kids coming and going as they pleased. Otherwise, the concept was terrific. Staffing in that area… not so much.

After that, the girls had a few more runs through the play centre area, and then it was time to go… we had possibly exceeded our longest ever time for a play catch up, it was hitting 3 hours, and The Messy Shed was closing!

Was that a good sign? Yes, yes it was. 🙂

The deets:

The Messy Shed is at Factory 4 & 5, 1 Watt Road in Mornington

It is open 9:30am to 2:30pm every day of the week.

For further info call them on (03) 5975 2080, or alternatively go to their website for more information or to book a session – www.playatthemessyshed.com.au

Messy play sessions are at 9:30am, 10:30am and 11:30am. They last for 45 minutes and are $10, but pre-walkers are FREE!

The play centre access is $7 per child, or $15 if purchased in a Messy Play/Play centre combo.

Totsville is $10 for an hour of exploration.

You can throw a birthday party for your child there, and there is a hairdressing corner… contact them at the info above for more details.

Tips:

Definitely book! Messy play sessions can get busy!

From my personal experience, the messy area is better for younger kids, though the swing is a pretty cool contraption.

The indoor playground is great for kids of all ages (watch out for the top tunnels as little ones can get stuck up there, have an older child on hand is great!)

Totsville is great for all kid ages too, with a slight emphasis on older kids, as they discover, act out and experiment with the mini-sized world around them.

My final verdict?

Hmm, a tough one to weigh up. There are pros for both The Hungry Peacock and The Messy Shed.

Peacock has ample room surrounding their proper café. The Shed has a café, with seating surrounding the play area.

They both have messy sessions… I feel Peacock is geared slightly towards older kids, with the Shed aimed at the younger tikes.

The Shed has Totsville… Peacock has outdoor play areas (play subject to weather of course) and play equipment in and around the café (separate from the messy area).

The Shed has a hairdresser… Peacock has a refurbished church for hire.

Both do birthday parties.

Peacock also does kids classes and a school holiday program.

Where does all this leave my conclusion?

For a more in depth review of The Hungry Peacock, click here to go to my review of the place.

Other than that I can say this with assuredness.

Both have a place.

The Messy Shed messy area is great for younger kids, while the play centre and Totsville ideal for older kids on cold and rainy days, where you can sit and watch them, protected by the elements, enjoying some café fare and a coffee.

The Hungry Peacock’s messy area I think is better suited to older kids. The inside and outdoor areas are for both, and for a decent feed I would go here. Also, on a sunny day, it would be lovely to sit out.

Both places are very different, yet cater for almost identical things.

Yet I think there is enough dirty play for both to exist. 😉

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Barbie dolls and March 8th

I sat with baby girl today playing with her dolls. Not that it’s an unusual thing – she asks me to play with all her Barbies and Disney princesses on a regular basis.

But today was a different day. Today was International Women’s Day.

This thought crossed my mind as I held the Anna Frozen doll, and she held the Elsa one. Sure, she was playing with Barbies. Barbies were typically portrayed as superficial dolls, dolls that until recent decades were typically associated with outdated and traditional personas, such as the trophy wife, not to mention their unrealistic and out-of-proportion body appearance and emphasis on the materialistic.

I wasn’t concerned, in the least. You know, the way a lot of ‘socially aware’ parents are nowadays. Baby girl played in the most well-rounded way. Sure she had her dolls. When she wasn’t playing with them, she was jumping on her trampoline. Kicking a ball. Playing catch with one of us. Drawing. Pasting and cutting. Looking through books. Watching Moana for about the millionth time (current phase). Loading her Shopkins into miniature bags for me to find later.

Basically, she wasn’t limited to one activity.

Still, I was aware. Aware of the youtube videos she watched of young girls playing with dolls, which she would then imitate. The dolls going out shopping. The dolls having tea. The dolls having an argument, and then making up. The dolls jumping in the pool. The dolls complimenting each other on their outfits.

So when baby girl stood one of her Barbie dolls on top of a plastic kitchen, and started yelling out “help me Ken, help!” being the day it was and all, I decided to change the rules.

The old rules. Of the weak girl. The strong male who swoops in to save the day.

Basically, the boy ‘hero’ image, versus the girl ‘weak’ image.

IMAG9357

“Save me, save me Ken!” she shrieked.

“No Barbie,” I held Ken and put on my most manliest of manly voices. “Barbie you’re a strong girl, you can do it yourself. Just jump Barbie.”

“No, no, it’s too high to jump!”

“Just jump to the middle Barbie,” I urged.

I watched humorously as baby girl took the Barbie to the middle shelf of the kitchen, before getting her to make one last jump to the carpet below.

“Yeah, you did it Barbie, well done,” ‘Ken’ told Barbie, as I smiled.

And then, a thought. Sure, baby girl watched these videos where the dolls did all girly things and needed occasional ‘saving.’

She was happily naïve – she did not know about the world we live in.

A world where there is discrimination against women.

A world where there is a pay gap.

A world where the general population pity the man and verbally slam the woman over the same activity.

A world where women cannot do certain things, because it is considered not acceptable for them to do so due to their gender, or even moreover, because they themselves don’t believe they can do it.

I was happy, because I knew in that moment, that this world didn’t exist for her. She was too young to know about it, or understand it at all.

And then, another thought. 

With the rise of the Time’s Up movement, a greater push and awareness of gender inequality and discrimination, and the increasing focus on women’s events, rights, and days such as International Women’s Day, my thought was…

She may never know.

She might never ever live to experience inequality.

She might never come across the excuse, “he’s just being a boy.”

She might never be told she can’t do something because it’s a man’s job.

She might be paid just as much, if not more, than her male friends when they enter the workforce.

She might just live her life with the same experience as every other being on this planet should experience: with fairness and an open heart.

She might live her life, without any focus on her female attributes.

Can you just imagine?  

The thought brought me so much joy at the Hope it promised. Now that’s something to strive towards…

Let’s make it happen for the next generation…

So when you are playing Barbies with the little people in your life, remember, it’s not what you play, it’s HOW you play…

And how you play, is Everyone saves themselves, because they are damn well strong, confident, positive and determined enough to.

Happy International Women’s Day ♥♥♥

An event to ruffle up my feathers

“What?” I stared at my phone in disbelief. I didn’t know what to think. It was a while ago and a beautiful coincidence later, when I had happened across the words ‘Mornington Peninsula Bloggers’ in a Peninsula-based facebook page.

There was a group in my area, for bloggers? I didn’t even realise local blogger groups existed, and then I was soon finding out that they were often hosted by organisations in order for some kind of ‘review’ to be later posted by them…

Surely they were buying a positive review. I balked at the idea of being ‘bought.’

“Yeah right,” I thought. I was going to write a nice review about someone just because they paid for some of my stuff? Don’t forget I waged war on one institution which I will never visit again, and though I don’t go out of my way to bag them, if anyone ever asks me where to go Lygon Street way, I won’t be able to keep my mouth shut.

I like to think I am fair, but also, I am picky.

I couldn’t fathom this ‘pay-for-positivity’ idea circling in my head, and so went to Hubbie.

“They’re going to shout you food?” He looked at me incredulously. I really wanted him to go all moral and high-ground like me, and yet his expression told me otherwise.

“Go!” he urged. “You don’t have to write a positive review.”

“But I feel I’ll have to!” That was the clincher. All those food posts I’d read on other sites. They prologue their review with

“Restaurant X&Y hosted us that evening, but all opinions are my own.”

You know what that translates to?

“All opinions have been diluted through my well-fed tummy… What is an ‘opinion?’… More food please… Nom nom nom.”

I didn’t wanna be one of those food-coma bloggers.

But then my alter ego, SmikG, stepped in.

“I will be hosted, and I WILL have an opinion!”

I needn’t have worried about having my opinions watered down through my digestive system, or of having to lie about my experiences though…

So on an uncharacteristically beautiful and still sunny July day, I found myself driving 17 or so minutes down Mornington-Tyabb road. The scenery was striking. I was used to roads like this since I frequent Bungower so often, however I felt that the further I drove away from the Mornington beach-side, the more the imagery turned pristine and pointed. There were still the huge blocks of land, long winding paths leading to expansive houses and farm-style cottages, however they were both perfectly rustic and exceptionally manicured at the same time. White picket fences, immaculately placed rock trails, even the trees on either sides of the road stretched far and wide, meeting in the middle and opening their branches just enough to allow you a glimpse into the road ahead, providing a magnificently glorious backdrop to the gorgeous day that was.

It was very Castle-esque. I had “how’s the serenity” playing on loop in my mind with my musings, as we drove on ahead.

On first impressions, I felt I almost could’ve kept driving past The Hungry Peacock, our host for that afternoon. Even with my google maps alerting me that it was indeed, a 50 metre left turn away, I still had to slow down suddenly, and heads up for those with lowered cars – watch your bumper bars as you enter the dirt car park.

IMAG4952

(Church hall on left, The Busy Peacock on right)

The setting was quiet and peaceful. I slowly headed into where I thought I needed to be, as fresh as baby girl who was in more knowledge than I was about what lay ahead. Soon though we found our group, in a barn-like shed otherwise known as ‘The Busy Peacock,’ which sits nearby the café ‘The Hungry Peacock’ on the premises. You see, not only were us bloggers getting shouted, but so were our kids.

Those clever minxes.

So the whole idea behind the The Busy Peacock, is that kids get a 45 minute session, in where they engage in sensory play.

IMAG4955

There are two sessions a day – one early morning and one late morning – and they run from Tuesday to Sunday. The children come in, put on smocks, and then just go where their curious hands and minds lead them…

There are water-based activities, sandpits, kid-sized building box areas, hammering and craft tables, gooey water ball tubs, and so much more. The great thing is, these activities change every two weeks, so you can be sure you’ll get some new play areas for your little explorer, even if you do frequent the place often.

IMAG4991

Baby girl of course LOVED the water areas, and after having a good sticky-nose into almost every other section, spent a significant amount of time spraying a white board and applying human features to it to make a face, followed by the rest of the time counting gooey balls in a tub.

IMAG4988

I mean, simple things. And little details too, as I loved how there was a bucket of fresh water with some old rags for the kids to wash their hands with and dry when things got a little bit messy. As you know it undoubtedly would. I know kids dig that stuff, but baby girl is a little OCD like me (proud as punch Mama) and so when a smidgen of sand touched her fingertips, she was holding them high in the air and high-tailing it to the bucket of water that was now blue.

That’s right, blue, because there was paint too!

IMAG4970

My honest-to-goodness thoughts? I honestly can’t fault the space. I mean, for $10, you keep your kid entertained for 45 minutes, they get their fill of all kinds of fun and exciting play areas and sensory experiences, and then after that you get to eat and drink next door, and they have MORE areas to play in?

What? There’s more?

So after three quarters of an hour following the kiddies around, making a mess and getting their hands into all kinds of gunk, we tidied them up and followed the owner, Rebecca, into the renovated church nearby which is also a space for functions. Rebecca is part-owner with her behind-the-scenes chef Hubbie, and they have been running the place for a while now, ever since their previous partnership running the joint with another couple, went bust. As it happens. They’ve since renovated the interior café too (which we’ll get to) and put their own personal mark on the premises which I can see will be a terrific kid-friendly mainstay.

And these were my thoughts before I’d even had any food.

IMAG4999

The church is a gloriously beautiful building, one that would easily cater for a large number of people in any kind of function, and this was perfectly demonstrated that day as our kiddies began to run amuck and show us just how grand the space was.

IMAG4995

Give them an empty room, and they run for their lives, giddy with joy. God Bless. Oh how appropriate that was…

IMAG4993

That was our brief stopover, before heading into the last area of our afternoon, the actual Hungry Peacock café.

IMAG5013

Being my first time there, I actually can’t comment on the renovation itself, other than to marvel at how many kids play areas there were! It is actually a quite genius, and fairly simple idea.

What do parents want more than anything?

A break.

What keeps kids busy (and away from hassling their folks?)

Why, novelty play things of course.

(Butcher pic thrown in for Hubbie)

A track running along the wall for mini car enthusiasts (i.e. ALL kids), a shop corner complete with play food, and colouring pencils and paper for the creative kiddies completed the tables and chairs inhabiting the café. The café consists of two large rooms, the first one containing the counter/coffee area and kitchen entrance, while the other had more places to sit, a couch and a fireplace.

It really was the perfect place to spend an hour or two catching up with an old friend, or just chilling on your own-some… all while your little one ran amuck looking, and most importantly, FINDING interesting and amusing things to do.

But what if it’s a gorgeous day out, and you want to take in some sunshine, you ask expectantly (waiting for me to stammer and halt?!) ?

???

Even better.

There are even more play areas outside for the kids, comprising of cubby houses and a long tube-like contraption to send balls down, all with a decked area for the parents to sit down and wine, dine, AND whine away, conveniently nearby.

The venue itself caters to all types of parents and their kids – those who want to get messy in the Busy Peacock; those who want to chill indoors while their children wind down and explore other avenues; and those who want to sit outside and take in the sunshine, while the kids become backyard explorers of a different brigade.

I have to say though, quite strongly, that I think it is only a place for parents and their kids. It is a parent’s haven –

(let’s interrupt this broadcast for the Angels singing)

Ahhhhhh!

(and back again)

– knowing your child can lose their shit and not be ridiculed by other non-parents. Even if you have already passed the child-rearing stage, you will probably not be able to take the yells and screams so much. It is a serene place, so the backdrop and nature may just win you over… but really, this is a Mum and Dad go-to for some much needed R&R while the little ones take over everything else.

I can’t comment on the food, because I only tasted the slightest morsels from the shared platters we received… and being a European woman, those platters would have been demolished between just Hubbie and I.

So, a Food Review, next time. Hubbie will be pleased to hear beer is on the Menu…

In a nutshell:

16 Mornington-Tyabb Road, Tyabb.

The Busy Peacock runs from Tuesday to Sunday, at 9:30am and 11:15am sessions.

Book ahead. 0416623827

$10 per child, for a 45 minute sensory play session.

There is an old church beside it that can be booked for functions.

Finally, The Hungry Peacock is the café that has even more play areas for the kids to keep them entertained, while offering food and drink for adults and children alike. Also open Tuesday to Sunday, 8/9am to 4pm.

So in its entirety, the concept is fantastic. You go out, let your kid have fun, go to the neighbouring house for some food and drink while they get even more exhausted, and then come home to a clean house, and hopefully a nap-ready child too.

And as for my first hosted blogging experience? The Peacocks feathers are brighter in person, and that there is my metaphor for my first-time blogging out in the open, and not trying to hide the fact that I’m inconspicuously taking xxx number of photos.

I was fortunately pleased to find that I didn’t need to lie, nor blow smoke up anyone’s behind for a false positive experience. It was a fun day for baby girl and I, and we will ALL be back to explore even more.

The only way is up, folks.

IMAG5032