Summer Mother via In the Powder Room

A Desperate Summer Mother Confesses: I Took My Child to an Indoor Play Place

Desperate times call for desperate measures…and lots of hand sanitizer.


Whelp, it’s still summer for many of us.

Which means, if you’re anything like me, these little animals we call children have been home . . . all day . . . for months now. {sigh}

So after 2.6 million games of Candy Land, breaking out the Play-Doh, countless hours of Lego building, becoming an imaginary superhero, bike riding, and baking . . . I have mentally and physically left the building.

I am now certifiably insane. You know how I know this? Because crazy people do desperate things. And in my desperation I did something that I hate to do. I packed up the family and took them to an Indoor Play Place.

This is the final resting stop for all frazzled parents everywhere. You can see the look of defeat on each and every one of our faces. We are screaming it behind our fake smiles, “I GIVE UP!”

No one with the proper mental facilities would pay $12 for their kid to run around in an indoor bounce house at a strip mall and play with a plastic toy that was just in a strange child’s mouth. But Summer Mother isn’t all there. She’s desperate. She’s trying to fill the time void until the next meal, the next nap, the next bedtime. Summer Mother isn’t practical—she’s crazed. And where do the crazy parents hold their 12 Step meetings? The Indoor Play Place.

My toddler sauntered in like a little version of Macklemore entering the club in his mismatched ensemble . . . one hand in his superman underwear—yes, he rocks your Grandpa’s style—the other hand throwing the thumbs up sign at the little girl who has lifted her dress above her head exposing her Frozen undies. His eyes dart around the room, sizing the place up, looking for the most dangerous or disgusting thing to play with. He cracks a smile and runs to the dress up corner. Before I can even say, “Wait . . . ” he has a plastic Fireman’s hat on his little head. He’s singing a fire truck song and I’m adding RID Lice Shampoo to my shopping list.

The Indoor Play Place isn’t for the faint of heart.

I pay and find a place not smeared with Nutella to sit down. The waiting here sucks the most. Unfolded loads of laundry wait for me at home. Can’t do that here.

I’m making small talk with another mom who looks about one step away from institutionalization. She’s wearing two different sneakers. They aren’t even the same brand let alone the same style or color. I decide to keep this observation to myself. Nothing good can come of her knowing that right now.

My toddler finally approaches me with those words no Mom wants to hear in a public place, “I have to go potty.”

I think he might be reviewing public toilets for Zaggat or Yelp! because he has sat on every one in a 50-mile radius.

We venture to the restroom where he proudly sits on the toilet and sings the ABCs while his little legs dangle and I keep my hands up, like a surgeon who has just scrubbed in. I can’t help but recall some of the bars I frequented back in the day. Those restrooms were actually cleaner—even with drunk, barfing 20-year-olds.

I’m finally able to get him out of there promising him the ultimate toddler treat . . . frozen yogurt.

Make mine a double . . . with a side of hand sanitizer.


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Amy grew up in the suburbs of Long Island singing Barbara Streisand hits into her hairbrush. When she’s not writing her hilarity fueled parenting memoir as The Outnumbered Mother, she’s a Florida living, butt wiping, soccer team carting, gourmet chef attempting, tennis skirt wearing, non-tennis playing, self-proclaimed bad mamma jamma to 3 sons and a very understanding husband.

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  1. says

    I can relate! I hate those places, too, but do my kids ever love them. Those places are our salvation here during the winter months when it gets dark before 4PM and rains every weekend. Very entertaining – I laughed out loud at “rockin’ your grandpa’s style”…now my coworkers know I’m not working!

  2. says

    Amy, you said it all!!! I have been to one of those places ONCE and never returned, but I have done hard time in both the mall play place (hey, 3 days of rain will do that to a person) as well as the Chick fil-a play place and they are not for the faint of heart. Thanks for making me laugh today!

  3. says

    I still have only brought mine to the indoor play place for birthdays but I was at the zoo three times a week towards the end of summer. I even broke down and let them play in chick fil a’s play area for two hours one desperate day lol.

  4. says

    So glad we are past the dress-up lice scares… Kids 10&13. We did spend a blissful 2 hours at LegoLand and blew through a lot of sanitizer there. We also went bowling and to the arcade. Who am I kidding, same snot different place. None of us are safe!