Keeping the toddlers entertained during the holidays

It’s amazing how quickly the years go by. The older you get the faster they go but one of the most unbelievably quick periods of adult life is without doubt your children’s younger years. If you have young kids now, in a few years’ time you’ll look back and think ‘where on earth did those first few years go.’ Having been there we know – it’s quite scary!

The period when kids are toddlers up to when they start school is a special time. Yes, it’s hard work as you never seem to get a break all day, every day, but it’s a fabulous time for doing whatever you like with them, be it planned or spur of the moment, while at the same time watching them develop and learn every day as they take in so many new sights, sounds and experiences.

At this age the school holidays obviously don’t mean that much (unless you’ve got older siblings too of course), but even when you’ve just got toddlers to entertain things can still be impacted upon, with clubs and other activities closing for a week or two, prices for lots of things rising and everywhere getting much busier.

So what can you get up to with your youngsters?

The chances are pre-schoolers will be up and about pretty early so why not take advantage of this and visit places earlier in the day when they won’t be so busy? Play centres such as 360 Play are quieter early on – and we also offer breakfast if you fancy a hearty start to the day – while swimming pools will more than likely be quieter at this time too and therefore much more suitable for the very young.

The park is always a great place to go, weather permitting, while the same can be said of going for a walk somewhere nice. You can try smelling different flowers, search for insects, do some bird spotting and just take in the fresh air.

And of course mums and dads can simply enjoy a time when there’s no real agenda or timescales involved, no rush to get the kids somewhere or to pick them up from a club or similar. It won’t be long before you are having to do all that – the many years of being a taxi driver – so make the most of the early years now, because for sure they’ll be gone quicker than you think.

Coffee time and play time rolled into one

It’s not easy when you’ve got little ones to find places to go for a coffee and a chat with friends. At best the youngsters might sit still for five or ten minutes if they have a drink and a snack to keep them occupied, but if they get noisy or throw a tantrum in a restaurant or a coffee shop it can become decidedly awkward and uncomfortable for parents.
Of course we can’t expect the under four or fives to stay still for long – it’s not in our nature at that age – but most parents of pre-school or slightly older children don’t want to spend every day on their own at home. They want to get out and continue doing things like meeting friends for a coffee or at least go somewhere where they can meet and talk to others in the same position.
A current trend in some towns and cities are play cafés where coffee shops also incorporate small play areas for very young children with toys and perhaps some soft play items to keep them busy while mums and dads enjoy a drink and maybe food too. But in addition to such places, a good quality play centre such as 360 Play can also offer some respite for parents and a genuinely comfortable place to meet up with friends with a place for the kids to play nearby.
We’ve carefully studied and researched all areas of play centre operation over the years and not surprisingly, as is apparent in the design of all our centres, mums and dads want to take their children to a warm, safe, clean environment which offers comfortable places to sit while the youngsters play. They also want a good cup of coffee and decent food, both for them and their kids, something else we have always provided.
Okay, 360 Play isn’t your high street coffee shop, but we have an F&B offering in all our centres that matches or betters many such outlets and provides a great alternative if you are looking for somewhere with a pleasant environment that will give you and your friends the coffee and chat experience you want, while at the same time letting the children use up some energy.
It’s hard enough as a mum or dad with young kids and it’s important you get out and mix with friends and peers. So if you haven’t already, give us –and our brilliant baristas – a try when you and your friends next arrange to meet for a coffee. You won’t regret it!

5 secret things mums do that they will never tell you about

With a lot of love, comes a lot of exhaustion, so it’s hardly surprising us mums have found a few life hacks to make life a little easier.
Recently I asked a panel of 360 mums to admit to the things they do in secret, those things that they wouldn’t ordinarily admit to. This was the result.

• Lying about the time to get the kids to bed earlier

Not by hours of course (because they would notice – trust me if I’ve tried) but 30-45 minutes earlier.
It’s not that we don’t love being around our dear children but by 6pm, when coffee no longer works, when you can no longer stand another re-run of Peppa Pig and when you have ‘brummed’ cars until the sound echoes around your head, you are so desperate to sit down and zone out you would resort to anything!
We know it means they will be up earlier, we know this is not going to feel good in the morning but for the love of god, please, let us just have a break!

• Eating the party food at birthday parties when no one is looking

We are respectable ladies for 95% (ish!) of the time but put us in a room with hundreds of kids (well about 25) and a buffet table of onion rings, cheese sandwiches and tea cakes and we lose our resolve.
We know we shouldn’t, but we lurk, we ‘help’ distribute the food to the kids and we wait. Then as the last of the children leave we casually start stuffing our faces!

• Pretending to need to toilet for 5 minutes peace

Every single mother I know has done this!
For me it normally comes after I have had to referee the 18th argument, had the 29th battle of wills with a 4 year old, made breakfast, lunch, prepped dinner, done 2 loads of washing and I hear another battle beginning, off I go (with my phone) to the loo, lock the door and sit. When I hear ‘MUUUUUUM’ I say ‘Just in the toilet’ and pray they don’t camp outside and wait or talk through the door!
5 minutes later I am back out with my game face on. It’s like a power nap for my mind!

• Eating chocolate in the kitchen so you don’t have to share

Really we are saving our sweet children from being overloaded with sugar and looking after those pearly whites (honest), so I don’t see a problem with this one!

• Boarding the guilt train almost every single day!

Everyday as a mother you just hope for your children to be happy, it really is that simple. However most days, amongst the chaos, noise and exhaustion, when you have screamed, they have screamed and everyone has had MacDonalds for tea, you tuck them up into bed, kiss their little heads, tell them you love them and feel an overwhelming sense of guilt. ‘I promise I will be a nicer mummy tomorrow. I promise I will do better.’
Motherhood and guilt go hand in hand but the most amazing thing about mummies is they are always trying to do their very very best! So what is a few life hacks, cheats and secrets here and there!

Happy Mothers Day to all of you amazing mummies from us at 360 Play

‘Team 360 Play’ set for 50 mile cycle ride in support of Sport Relief 2016

The UK fundraising event Sport Relief takes place once again in March this year – and the team at family entertainment centre operator 360 Play will be doing their bit to help raise money for this very worthy cause.

Managing Director Duncan Phillips will be joined by several members of the head office team at DP House in Milton Keynes for a sponsored cycle ride over a distance of 50 miles on March 20th. The route begins and ends at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park’s iconic Lee Valley VeloPark, part of the site of the 2012 London Olympic Games, and the 360 Play team will be hoping their efforts raise lots of money for Sport Relief.

Each team member will ride the 50 mile route and as well as funds being raised through individual sponsorships, 360 Play itself will be adding its own contribution to the pot!

Sport Relief has been running in the UK every second year since 2002 and of all the money raised by the public, 50 per cent is used to make a difference to people’s lives in the UK while the other 50 per cent goes towards transforming  lives across the world’s poorest communities. Just under £72m was raised through a wide range of sponsored events and activities in 2014.

“Supporting charities and the wider local communities in all the areas in which we operate is something we’ve done for a number of years,” explained 360 Play sales and marketing manager Billie-Jan Hills, “and when it was mentioned in the office that we should do something for Sport Relief this year the idea inspired quite a few of us. The 50 mile cycle ride is one of the official events organised by Sport Relief so we decided to have a go at that. We are doing some serious training so hopefully we’ll raise lots of money for this great cause.”

The 360 Play team’s admirable efforts also reflect the company’s philosophy as far as young children are concerned, in that the company believes strongly in providing fun activities designed to encourage physical, active, imaginative and creative play, enhancing and supporting children’s development. Its centres are filled with elements to ensure this is achieved among its young visitors who in being encouraged to enjoy physically active pursuits at a young age may one day themselves take part in a Sport Relief event.

For more information on 360 Play visit For more information on this year’s Sport Relief visit