Let me start by saying I love mall play areas. When I was young playing at the mall meant riding on a mechanical horse for fifteen secs, and a fairy tale from a giant gold painted castle (this part was pretty cool).
Today there are slides, rubber carpet, free books. It is a great place to keep the kid occupied while one parent shops, or as an alternative to the park on a weather day (300+ of these a year in Pittsburgh).
What I hate are the parents who think that the play area is their own home. Most play areas have the same basic rules:
1. Kid must be shorter than X in. to use the play area.
2. No shoes
3. No food/drink
4. Kids must be accompanied by parent
This is not rocket science, and yet so many parents seem to not understand these rules.
I get that older brother/sister might still want to run around, so I can understand a bending of the first rule. However, when you kid can drive themselves to the mall they are too old for the play area. I actually do not see the food/drink being violated too much. A snack here or a sippy cup there, but no one is laying out a picnic spread. The no shoe one kills me. I seriously want to tackle the kids with shoes on and take them off myself. It is always the kid with shoes who wants to run around with their eyes closed, up the slide, arms out, stepping on toes and knocking other kids down.
It is the last rule that really burns me. Johnny and Susy are tearing around the play area, throwing books, blocking the slide, etc. Mom/Dad is sitting there eyes locked on their iPhone (happens all the time), talking with friends oblivious to what is going (at least once every trip), or sleeping (yes I have seen this too). Is it really so much to ask that you remain conscious and aware of what your child is doing? I would love to take a book and read while Kristen is playing, but it isn’t a daycare. There is no one else watching her if I am not.
This brings me to my question, should the mall have someone there to monitor the play area? They don’t need to watch the kids themselves, just make sure their rules are being followed. What do you think?