A special year for ‘leaplings’ – and a special 360 Play offer to go with it!

2016 is a leap year and with just under 5 million ‘leaplings’ worldwide, people born on the rare date of 29th February, there will be lots of happy leap day children who can truly celebrate their birthday this year.

Why do we have a leap year?…

The leap years keep everything in sync, most notably the seasons. For example, if we didn’t have them those of us who celebrate Christmas in the winter would eventually end up doing so in the summer. It’s all related to the solar system, but we won’t go into the technicalities of that here. Suffice to say it’s a necessary thing for us to be doing and as noted, keeps everything nicely in sync with the solar year.

Leaplings…

Children born on this date find their birthday can have an impact on a variety of every-day things. Firstly parents need to choose when to celebrate their child’s birthday, while for young leapers themselves they are often teased by their peers who wrongly think they only have a birthday every four years. When they are older, it can be as annoying as application forms that require their date of birth to be entered, as some computer services and software programmes still don’t recognise the date.

Parents of leaplings…

Many questions arise for parents of leap day babies (On that, a very important point, you must refer to people born this day as leap day babies, not leap year babies. Anyone can be born in a leap year!) Questions like, when will my child become of legal age? How old are they? How do I explain it to them? When should we celebrate their birthday when it’s not a leap year? Of course, for all questions these days there is a virtual answer. We at 360 HQ quite like this website:

http://www.leapyearday.com/content/parents-page

It’s also important for parents of leaplings to understand all about leap day. If you take the time to learn as much as possible about it, when your youngsters are old enough to discuss it properly and have things explained to them, it will make it much easier on you as the one doing the explaining. And of course when they get questions asked of them, they will then also know what the right answers are.

This year, 360 Play is helping your leaplings celebrate their special day with a special offer!

We are offering a 50% discount to leaplings who book a party at 360 Play for February 29th.

So if your child was born on this special date, why not let us help them make it especially memorable in 2016 with a fun time at your nearest 360 Play venue.

And just for fun, here are 6 fascinating facts about leap year:

  • ‘Bachelors day’ where women can propose to men was apparently down to Queen Margaret of Scotland, who was apparently just five years old when she came up with the February 29th proposal trap,  (sounds a tad too young, we agree, but that’s what the tradition states!).
  • If a man refused a proposal, he would be fined a kiss, a silk dress or 12 pairs of gloves.
  • Tradition also shows that women can propose on February 29th but they must wear either breeches or a scarlet petticoat to do so.
  • One in five engaged couples in Greece will avoid getting married in a leap year as they believe it’s bad luck.
  • If you are on a fixed annual wage you work for free on February 29th. (think about it)
  • The frog is a symbol associated with February 29th.

How will your little ones celebrate the New Year?

With Christmas almost upon us and the excitement building to a crescendo for most youngsters, no doubt all the usual things families do in the lead up to the big day will by now have been done. Shopping, seeing the Christmas lights in your local town, a visit to Santa, the school nativity play and more are all probably ticked off.

So looking ahead another week or so to New Year, here at 360 Play our thoughts have turned to how young children might celebrate the beginning of another year. New Year’s Eve is, of course, usually more of a time for adults to ‘get the party started,’ with the youngsters being tucked up in bed. But there are some things children can do too which although they may not include staying up until midnight are a good way for them to mark the start of another year.

We’ve come up with the following which might help you help them to make more of New Year and have some fun at the same time.

1) Get them to write out a list of promises to themselves for next year. Yes, basically a list of ‘resolutions’ but they could stick it on a wall and tick them off as each one is achieved.

2) Make a time capsule. This is always fun, particularly when it’s opened up of course, and they can have a great time choosing what to put in it.

3) Throw a small party for a few friends and have a ‘fake’ midnight countdown to New Year at, say, 9pm. They’ll love it!

4) Put together something traditional for the first visitor to your home after midnight. To ensure good luck for the home, the Scots traditionally leave out symbolic coal, shortbread, salt, black bun and whisky (although not all these items are readily available these days!), but whatever tradition you choose to follow, it’s fun for the kids and teaches them a bit about the ways of old!

5) And finally, what about planting a tree or shrub? Again it’s a lovely tradition and the whole family can watch it grow over the coming years.

However you decide to celebrate the New Year, everyone at 360 Play wishes you a wonderful and happy 2016.

Nativity plays – What do you mean my child’s not Joseph?

Nativity plays. One of my favourite things about being a mum is seeing my little ones perform in their nativity plays. It makes Christmas special for me. On that evening, I sit there, tall and proud, camera glued to my child, smiling like a wholly along with every other mum and dad there, however as every parent knows, the run up to that crowning moment of glory is never smooth.

Preparing for a nativity play can be pretty stressful, if you let it become so. From the moment you find out their role (a cow for my 4 year old this year, I mean, please! don’t they know how talented he is!) you’re creating costumes, practising songs and soothing performance anxieties not to mention listening to other parents gloat that their child is playing Mary or Joseph. Oh the pressures that many parents feel at this time of year in amongst other Christmas ‘to do’s, and I find myself asking, can this whole thing be a lot more simple?

The key, I have found, is to not take it too seriously and if at all possible, enjoy the process. When you are dealing with a whole class of five year olds, things are not going to run 100 per cent smoothly – in fact, far from it. Yes, be prepared and make the best costume for your little one that you possibly can, but then let everything else take its course. The teachers will do the rest and you can then just turn up on the day and hope for the best and know that be it Joseph or a cow (!) you’re going to love seeing them on stage doing their performance.

One thing I’ll never forget about my eldest son’s performance, in the nativity and one or two other primary school performances, was his timing. If arms had to be waved in the air, for example, his were always the last ones up there (and the last ones down), while his distinct lack of interest in performing and his reluctance to really get into the part, was plain for all to see. He’d rather have been playing football! I thought it was highly amusing, although I kept that to myself, but I realised that at that age such an attitude isn’t overly important so I didn’t stress about it.

So this year as my 4 year old takes to the stage, I will be as chuffed as every other person in there. No matter what his timing, commitment or believability as a cow (and eventually I’ll get over the cow thing and the world will see the talent his mum sees in him!) I am just going to enjoy the ride, laugh, probably shed a tear and capture every moment on camera to tease him with as a teenager!

Let those parents who want to take it seriously just get on with it and shower your young one(s) with praise after the event no matter what. Then enjoy a glass of something when you get home to celebrate the milestone. After all, it is Christmas!

360 Play looks for new Charity of the Year for 2016

Children’s play centre 360 Play is looking to link up with another local children’s charity for 2016 to help support the chosen organisation over a 12 month period as its ‘official’ Charity for the Year.

 

We are already very active in our local communities, donating over 700 family passes to raffles this year alone. Each year we choose one special children’s charity to become our Charity of the Year and they get our special focus and attention during that period.

360 Play will work with the chosen charity on a variety of fundraising initiatives which could include charity events held by 360 Play itself, with profits going to the supported organisation, the use of the 360 Play premises for a fundraising event and the provision of raffle prizes for further fundraising activities, among others.

 

So, if you are involved in a local charity and would like to register your organisation’s interest in becoming 360 Play’s officially supported charity for 2016, please email communitytickets@360play.co.uk in the first instance, stating the reasons why you feel your charity should be considered and also including a contact name, telephone number and details of fundraising achieve to date. Photographs would also be welcome. The last day for receipt of applications is Friday, December 18th.

Mid Week Madness – Play and Eat

Starting on Wednesday 2nd December, you can pay an extra £1.25 on the entry price to get any child’s meal included.

That’s £8.20 for a 1-3 year old or £10.50 for a 4-12 year old, during the day.

After school prices are £5.50 (1-3 years) and £6.80 (4-12 years).

Play Pass holders pay £1.25 to get the offer.

So why not stay and play all day!

This offer is on Wednesdays and Thursdays in term time only, until the end of the local Spring term.

Available in Leicester, Milton Keynes and Stevenage.

Great value partnership offers for visitors to the new 360 Play Basildon

We’re getting very excited about 360 Play’s brand new children’s entertainment centre at Festival Leisure Park in Basildon, which is set to open to the public on Monday, November 16th. And to help with the launch celebrations, we’ve teamed up with other businesses on the site to bring some great money saving offers to families planning a visit.

For anyone wanting to make a short break of a visit to our latest venue, we’ve arranged a very special offer with the Holiday Inn, which is situated right next to 360 Play. The hotel is offering a family room plus entrance to 360 Play (for two adults and two children) for just £73, including breakfast, a great saving on the hotel’s standard rates but an even more value-packed offer with entry to our attraction too.

Additionally, 360 Play Basildon has come together with the Fitness First outlet on the leisure park to offer all visitors a free session at the gym, which is also just a short walk away. Visitors will be able to sample all the excellent Fitness First facilities which include the latest gym equipment.

We already offer a real value-for-money experience for visitors to 360 Play with the opportunity for guests to stay as long as they want, free parking right outside our door and much more. But being able to link our offer with other businesses on the leisure park to create additional benefits for families is a great move for everyone and we are sure lots of visitors will take advantage of these special deals.

As is the case at our other three centres, all the facilities a family needs for a great day out –whatever the weather – are provided at 360 Play Basildon, including some new ones, and we are really looking forward to opening what will be our largest venue to date. We hope to see you there and look forward to hearing what you think.

Extending the 360 Play family – to Basildon

It’s exciting times here at 360 Play Towers! Not only are our three existing centres continuing to keep us all busy but our fourth centre will be opening very soon at Festival Leisure Park, Basildon, Essex – and we just can’t wait!

360 Play Basildon will be our largest site to date with 28,000 square feet of fun, active and creative play opportunities for young children and their families to enjoy. It’s all spread over two floors and in this latest venue there’s a host of new ideas and attractions for visitors to sample, as well as the tried and tested ones that have proved so popular over the years at our other three centres.

Of course a new centre means a whole new team of staff to extend the 360 Play family to another part of the UK. So it’s a very warm welcome to the fold to our new managers Paul and Ricky who will lead the team at Basildon and who are currently busy with other senior members of staff training our latest recruits on how to provide the best possible service and experience to our visitors.

360 Play is a family owned business and with two young children of his own our MD knows a thing or two about what makes a good day out with youngsters. In fact we all do, which is why 360 Play has become renowned over the years for just that. Our new Basildon centre has been carefully planned and designed to take the brand and the concept behind it to another level and we’re very excited about the opening and really looking forward to seeing visitors’ reactions to what we’ve created.

And it’s even more gratifying to know that we are a key element of the redevelopment of the Festival Leisure Park by the landlords who are making every effort to create a much more family-friendly site with a variety of new openings and tenants. If you live in the Basildon area, or anywhere else for that matter, a warm welcome awaits when we open to the public on November 16th. Why not ‘come on down’ and give it a try – you won’t be disappointed.

Halloween Fun

We are all about children experiencing a safe fun and family friendly Halloween. Here are our top tips for making Halloween fun and NOT scary.

1 – Let your children dress up in a Halloween fancy dress costume of their choice to set the tone for the evening.

2 – Involve youngsters in pumpkin carving and tell them the story of why pumpkins are used in this way at Halloween. (Do you know why? You can easily find out on the internet, both the real reason and some great mythical stories too, which the kids will love).

3 – Use fun words for games. Dipping your hand in sawdust to retrieve sweets could be turned into dipping your hand in witches’ warts to retrieve treasure. Yuk!

4 – If you let your children go trick or treating, only go to the homes of people you know and ask them to put a pumpkin on their doorstep so young ones get used to only visiting people they know.

5 – Remember, Halloween can be a really positive and fun community event. Attend local, well organised Halloween events and take the stress out of your Halloween. You’ll enjoy it much more and be able to really get into it with the kids so all the family have a great time.

The 360 Play Halloween Spooktacular takes place on Saturday, October 31st, from 6.00pm to 8.30pm. It’s a ticketed event and is a fun, friendly, family Halloween Party suitable for all children with games, party dancing, fancy dress and safe trick or treating. More details can be found at

www.360play.co.uk/events-2/

Half term already? 5 ways to tackle the Half Term Terror!

Just as we are getting back into the routine after a long summer holiday, half term shows up!

It’s a tricky time for parents with young children, youngsters aren’t quite yet fed up with the school routine and learning and with the nights drawing in and the crisp bite in the air creating a weeks worth of activity can prove challenging.

So here are 5 tips from 360 Play to help you and your children through this half term.

1 – Baby, it’s cold outside!

As the weather starts to turn colder we all tend to stay indoors for longer periods of time. A child’s imagination can only last for so long in the same environment, so take every opportunity to get out and about, even if it’s cold. Wrap up warm and go for a walk, a particular favourite of my family this time of year is leaf jumping! Like puddle jumping but more autumnal.

If it is too cold though you could always come down to 360 Play where we specialise in stimulating young minds with a host of great activities.

2 – They miss their friends.

During the first half of term your youngsters have just rekindled many friendships after the summer holiday, so they’re probably not ready for a break from them yet. Why not invite a friend or two round for a play date? It’s sure to keep them happy and will pass an afternoon or two with no boredom factor.

3 – Eager, bright minds!

Try new things and keep their minds active. Children, especially under 10’s, love to learn. Learning comes in a variety of different formats.

Younger ones will do this through play while older ones will want to challenge themselves in various ways. Why not create a project for them to do? With Halloween coming up they could design their own costumes or masks, or maybe research different pumpkin styles on the computer and then create a pumpkin lantern for real. And of course it’s always fun to make some tasty Halloween themed treats, with lots of easy recipes available on the net.

4 – Time for some new toys?

Most children seem to have an endless supply of toys these days, that’s a given, but it’s been a long time since Christmas, and maybe birthdays too, so they are probably looking for some new things to play with. Charity shops are a good source of supply for some less expensive treats or with a bit of work on the internet, there will be lots of ideas for ‘make your own’ toys too.

5 – Kids like a routine.

At half term children go to bed a little bit later than on a school night but will get up at the usual time as their body clocks are still in school time mode. The days are therefore just as long but with no structure, so try and keep things predictable so they know what to expect, rather than letting the days just drag on with no plan.

Happy half term to all!

Avoiding the morning ‘rush hour’ (that’s the one at home!)

By Mum of 2 and 360 Play member.

As the new term started I began to wonder if I was the only one completely disorganised and late on school mornings, often losing it at certain pressure points. My usual morning script is this – ‘finish your breakfast’, ‘brush your teeth’, ‘stop jumping on your brother and find your socks’ and the worse one of all ‘Get your shoes on we are going to be late!’ Then after finally leaving the house and despatching the children to school I would feel instantly guilty at starting the day this way, promising myself I would find a better way of doing things in the morning!

So I asked the mums at the school gate. They all guiltily confessed to the same raised voice protocol and not really having a plan to combat this pressure. We all agreed there must be a better way. So I started asking around.

I started with my partner in crime, my children’s father, who helpfully stated the obvious ‘These things should not be done minutes before leaving for school but should perhaps be sorted the night before’.  Of course, if only I had thought that! Maybe I should put the kids to bed in their school uniforms dear. He is right, although I hate to admit it; a certain number of things can happen the night before, but short of dressing each child myself, brushing their teeth and spoon feeding in the Cheerios, how do I handle those things that just can-not be prepared?

My mum suggested I get everyone up earlier. No! Modern life is a busy affair and I refuse to sacrifice anymore of my sleep. I have been a mother for 8 years and I still haven’t got used to not having my Sunday morning lie in each week.

So I turned to Google. Google knows everything and I found lots of articles on teaching your children to handle their own time. Really? Can kids do this? I read on and it seems like yes they can. I was dubious but I gave it a try.

Firstly I made 2 charts that super nanny would have been proud of, one for each child, that looked something like this:

  • Have breakfast.
  • Shower
  • Get dressed.
  • Brush teeth and hair.
  • Get book bag, shoes and PE bag.

YOU ARE READY FOR SCHOOL!MorningYawn

I then brought my 7 year old a watch, handed it to him at the breakfast table and said we need to leave at half past 8 and you needed to do everything on your list by then. He can tell the time but I still showed him where the hands need to be.

Then with my 4 year old, I walked him through it, ticking the chart as we went. Amazingly we were all ready by 8:15, shoes on, book bags in hand and not one voice raised. Success! I felt triumphant. I told my mummy friends who all had success using this method too. In fact after a week of walking it through with my littlest man he started to do a lot of it on his own and felt really chuffed with himself. So as the term continues, how is it going now? Mostly great actually. I think I have had to shout the shoe message 3 or 4 times but nothing like before. It really has made a huge difference to our morning routine– and didn’t half help reduce the mummy guilt levels!

360 Play comments: We love this idea. We can see it enables children to grow their confidence through being independent and capable, something which reigns king in our centres and of course anything that makes a happy mum makes a happy child. I’m sure many mums will find this useful.