Baby changing

Gan on, bring the bairn - Baby and Child Friendly Newcastle

Gan on, bring the bairn - Baby and Child Friendly Newcastle

So far all have my posts have focused on things specifically for kids, places to go with kids, products for kids. But what about ME? Will no one ever think of me? I learned pretty quickly into my parenting career that if I go somewhere kid friendly there is a chance that I might get 2 or 3 minutes peace in between the nappy changes, feeding and playing. But sometimes I don't want to go to a park, sometimes I'd rather eat a cold Ella's Kitchen rather than go to a soft play and sometimes I just need get some of that long list of life admin actually ticked off. 

So this post is still all about the kids (I haven't had a personality transplant and started talking about anything actually interesting) but it's about places that have tried to make parent's lives easier, by welcoming kids. A round up of places in Newcastle that have a USP when it comes to being family friendly. It's not like us poor parents are going to turn up on a charity appeal on daytime sky telly or anything. There are worse fates than being reliant on babysitters to be able to go to the gym, but I really appreciate it when businesses have been considerate to our needs. There must be some money in it too? All the parents I know, will spend as much as they have available to make their lives a little bit easier. There is the pink and grey pound, surely there is money to be made out of parents? What would we be? The suspiciously brown stain, is it poo or is it chocolate, pound? Lets not get into the details of that just yet, but get on with celebrating the places in Newcastle that are great for parents. 

Baby on Board - Newcastle to Faro with Easyjet

Baby on Board - Newcastle to Faro with Easyjet

♫♫We're all going on a summer holiday...♫♫ Well not all of us. Last week, half of our little family unit took a short trip to Portugal, and as you can guess by the fact i'm writing this blog it was me who came back with the strap marks and mozzie bites. My sister asked us if we'd like to join them for a few days of their family holiday, we'd originally said no due to the cost. Now my toddler is over two we'd need to pay for a seat for him on the plane, and in the midst of statutory maternity pay our budget is tight. But as their holiday grew closer, I started to think about the possibility of me joining them for a couple of days, taking the baby with me. I've loved my maternity leave, but looking after two kids is full on, and I was desperate for a bit of a break. So after a quick jaunt to Durham to sort the baby's passport we were booked and ready to go. 

Lets Play Big - Hebburn

Lets Play Big - Hebburn

Well, South Tyneside is fast becoming the toddler activity capital of the North East. After we visited the fab Role Play cafe a couple of weeks ago, we headed back to Hebburn a few days later to look around the new messy play venture in Victoria Industrial Estate - Lets Play Big

Unlike most of the messy play classes that I know of, which operate from community centres or hired rooms, Lets Play Big is based within it's own unit in an industrial estate. It is open 7 days a week, running four sessions a day which makes it perfect for working families. Before I started my current maternity leave, I worked four days a week, and I remember searching online for classes that I could take my toddler to on my day off, and frequently being disappointed when something looked really good, but was only available on a Monday at 10am or something when I was working. It is even better for people who work five days a week, because as far as I know, whilst some classes are branching out into putting on the odd Saturday morning, there isn't anywhere else nearby where they offer this amount of pre-school classes over holiday time and weekends. 

Apart from the brilliant opening hours, Lets Play Big had really gone for it with the variety of tasks and crafts that kids could get involved with. I haven't been to loads of messy play groups, a handful of individual classes and we used to go to baby sensory when my toddler was tiny (obviously neglected second baby hasn't been to any sensory classes, she just gets dragged around to noisy toddler activities, and perhaps that was why she was so excited to be able to play during this visit.) So I can't say that I'm a messy play connoisseur, but I felt like Lets Play Big had put on so many great play stations, that even the most seasoned crafters and gloop-players would really enjoy the sessions. 

Beamish Museum - Festival of 50's

Beamish Museum - Festival of 50's

I love Beamish. I hadn't been for years, perhaps since I was at school, until I got an unlimited card this spring. Since then we've easily had our money's worth. I love that it's so picturesque, that I can go and have a good walk, but that there is always something there that my toddler will enjoy too. We visited on the first day of the Festival of the 50s, a four day celebration showcasing the 50s items the museum is accruing in preparation for opening the 50s area some time in the future. The 50s festival was great, it had a really good atmosphere, and I think that will be even more so over the weekend when there are activities planned. 

This review is in two parts, for all of the people who have been to Beamish time and time again, I'll show the pictures of the 50s weekend and encourage you if you have an unlimited card to visit at some point this weekend as it's a brilliant cheap day out as all of the daytime events are included in the annual pass. Then after the photos and write up of the festival, I'll include the best toddler friendly bits of Beamish that we visit time and time again. 

Fenwick Newcastle - Baby Change and Feeding Area

Fenwick Newcastle - Baby Change and Feeding Area

So I'm not sure if i'm late to the party here, or whether there might be other people out there who didn't know about the baby change and feeding facilities in Fenwick department store in Newcastle city centre? My sister in law had mentioned that they were good, but today was the first time that I had been in to them. They are brilliant. In my life before children I often used to use the powder room area of Fenwick, if you haven't been it is on the third floor, next to the toilets and has loads of mirrors with tables and chairs in front of them so you can top up your make up. When I actually used to go places without a double buggy, range of spare clothes and hundreds of nappies in tow, I would pop in to reapply my make up if I was heading out to dinner straight from work, or to do my hair on the occasions when I'd had my make up applied in the MAC concession downstairs. I shouldn't have doubted that now I rarely manage to slap a bit of foundation on, but I'm frequently looking for somewhere to hose down my baby after nappy seepage that yet again Fenwick would come to my rescue.