Why Indoor Play-Gyms Give Me The Blues

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Ah, the indoor play-gym. Wild colors. Bouncy things. Countless ways to lose yourself in all-things-kiddie. They seem to be popping up everywhere I turn (or maybe I’m just noticing them more).

But if I may offer some wacky advice to moms who just might have the same twisted outlook on life as myself – If you see one, RUN AWAY! Run far, far away.

I do feel a bit guilty lashing out on them. Sure, they’re supposed to provide refuge for moms and kiddos to run around like monkeys and recharge  their batteries on days when it’s too chilly to bounce around outside. But instead, I’m finding that indoor play-gyms just give me the blues. Ok, they just flat out bum me out. I know these places are meant to be positive establishments, but if I don’t air this out, I might explode into a million bouncy balls.

It’s not the kids that get to me, it’s some of the moms. I’ll indulge in my own unresolved issues for a moment: The second I walk in and see groups of moms camped out at the colored tables with their lattes, laptops and take-out boxes, my stomach flips and heart sinks.

Even though I don’t know them, these moms were once the same women I’d see bustling in and out of coffee shops, offices and local bars. They were dressed-up, fast-moving, busy, on their cell phones and undoubtedly doing something that might affect something big happening in the outside world. Now they are reduced to sitting and eating pizza in sweats while their kids buzz around on cushy mats in plastic cars and boss my toddler to get out of their way as they honk their rubber horns. The whole scene seems to scream “My life is on hold.”

Although I definitely relate, I also feel awkward and confused, like “is this the new me?” After all, I’m there with them aren’t I? Many of these moms look like the life has been sucked out of them. Do I look the same way? Probably. (Which is why I make it a personal mission to at least put on lipstick and a semi-cute outfit when I do visit one of these places – it’s the only way I know how to cope. See my previous post, “Why I Wore Stilettos to a Toddler’s Birthday Party“)

Don’t get me wrong: being a mostly-stay-at-home mommy these days is valuable and a lot of fun… but I’m still having trouble adjusting to this lifestyle that now involves me explaining to random 4-year olds that my baby girl is only chasing them because she wants to play (as they yell at her not to follow them around).

Indoor play-gyms somehow seem to condense and magnify everything that drives me irrationally insane about the traps and stereotypes of stay-at-home motherhood. They remind me of what I used to do and make me nostalgic for pre-baby activities. Take me to the park, the zoo, the mall… anywhere else but this place. I’m guessing that my little girl has a decent enough time (all she does is run around), but the indoor play-gym is slowly killing my spirit. I walk out feeling low and unsettled. Way to defeat the purpose of our outing. Maybe the bright colors are just too much for me. Am I the only one?

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