Monday, 25 November 2013

The Little Tikes Play Date

Having a toddler has opened up a whole new world to me, one full of toys and wild escapades. One of our recent escapades was to visit Little Tikes for a rather exciting play date in Milton Keynes. A number of other children of varying ages were also invited along so that together, our cheeky kiddies could have a hands on play with all of the current Little Tikes range.

Leo and I are no stranger to Little Tikes, I as a child used to share my younger brothers Cozy Coupe! And although the years have rolled by, and the designs may have been made that little bit more modern… The Cozy Coupe is still going strong, and Leo darts around the house in his very own! When I first bestowed Leo with his Cozy Coupe, he would sit in it watching the television and playing with other toys. He was completely smitten!

Leo and I set off on this latest adventure bright and early, but if Leo was honest the bit he was most looking forward to about this day out, was that he could travel on the train! The main topic of conversation on our travels was that he was indeed on a train… Or ‘Choo’ as he likes to call them, over and over again. The train ride was so exciting that Leo decided there was no way he was going to give in and take a nap for me… Which of course meant that upon arrival at Little Tikes.. He was way past his best and I did worry that he may not play ball.

Luckily for me as soon as we got there, Leo let go of my hand and he ran right into the thick of it. He threw himself over the blow up Little Tikes inflatable… He flew threw the entrance and found all of the other children who were already playing together.

The purpose of this play date was to highlight the different play personalities, and with all of the children that Little Tikes had very bravely invited along, it was apparent that they were all at play right there in that very room. The room had been set up into the different areas for the different age ranges:-

- Little Learners
- Little Movers
- Little Builders
- Explorers
- Little Grown Up’s

In each area there were toys from each of Little Tikes ranges, and the kids were free to run around, jump, shout and do as they pleased. Leo did a lot of jumping and a lot of shouting, some good shouting… and some not so good screaming. My 2 year old quickly became known as the boy who could get stuck…anywhere. I don’t quite know what play personality this bestows upon him… But I very quickly became accustomed to listening out for Leo’s scream and promptly ran over to pull him out of the latest place he had become wedged…

He even managed to find the rather snazzy water play table, and while I was listening to the introductions he decided to take the opportunity... And get soaked! Hence the naked attire...

What I found really interesting about the day was that Maggie Redshaw (Little Tikes Play Expert) was on hand to answer any questions that we had. I had a lovely chat with Maggie and it was lovely to hear that the best part of her job was to actually just get down on her hands and knees and indulge in a proper playtime with the kids. She said that while they are playing like they were here, there is no wrong that they can do as they are just learning about everything around them, testing the waters so to speak.

Maggie has been helping Little Tikes discover why children play in the ways that they do, and I was really impressed that Little Tikes were taking advice from all areas of the playing field. When Maggie was talking to the bigger kids (i.e…Us parents) I found myself nodding along with everything she said. One point was that when they have held play dates in the past, they have thought that the kids would perhaps conform to their stereotypical roles… But what actually happened was the boys flocked to the playhouses and play kitchens (just like Leo does!) and the girls to anything with wheels!

Now this didn’t surprise me at all, Leo is often found playing in his play kitchen, and he even has his very own baby doll and a pushchair!

Of course throughout the play date Leo played with absolutely everything. He played with the lawn mower and the train set (which soon became a firm favourite!) and he even played with the kitchen where he served me ample supply of ‘chips’.

Then when the lack of sleep got a little bit too much… Leo decided he was so tired that he was going to inflict the ultimate toddler melt down on everyone in the room. Train track flew, Leo lay flat on the floor with a face as red as a tomato… I sat there watching not really knowing what to do with him. It went on for a little while… Until Santa. YES SANTA, walked in through the door with a big bag of presents for all of the kid’s.

What better way to end a play date!?

I managed to convince Leo to sit down on a bean bag with his blanket and his milk, and cuddle up until Santa handed him his very own gift. As soon as Leo laid eyes on Father Christmas I saw his entire face light up, and the toddler who only minutes before had been screaming… was now sat mesmerized right beside me, pointing at Santa and calling his name ‘Danta’.

I had to stop Leo from prematurely running up to Santa and stealing a gift, but he didn’t have long to wait until the man in red bestowed Leo with his very own present. Leo eagerly tucked into ripping the wrapping paper off so he could see what was inside. Santa had very kindly given all of the children their new play kitchen, and now whenever you point at his latest toy box addition, and ask him who gave him it… He replies concisely with ‘Danta, Present’.

What really made me giggle over the weekend was when I told him we would be seeing Santa again, and Leo replied ‘Present, More’. I think someone may have been a little bit spoilt at Little Tikes!

We had a lovely, and at times magical time with Little Tikes, and I would just like to say a big thank you for inviting Leo and I along. We have definetly added a few more Little Tikes goodies on our letter to Santa Clause this year!

Disclaimer: Leo and I were invited along to the Little Tikes Play Date. We were provided with lunch and our travel expenses were paid for us. Leo was gifted a present from Santa. I was not asked to write this post and all views and opinions expressed are completely honest and my own.


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