Weekdays are routine, pure and simple. I come home and hubby and I juggle the chores that need to be done before the kids and furkids are put to bed. We all know the drill right? You catch up, make supper, eat, let the kids play a bit, then scoop them up to bath, read a few stories, get the kids to say goodnight to each other and to you and pray that they fall asleep to leave you alone to enjoy some quality time with your partner and a glass of wine. These days, more often than not, this routine works. Then there are days when it doesn’t, like when the baby goes through his teething episodes. But I digress.
Weekdays are mundane. Boring. We stick to the routine because, like I said, it works. Weekends come and it’s time to switch on the ‘cool mom’ and ‘cool dad’ personas. I feel guilty because I work full time during the week. I hardly see the kids except for a few hours in the evening, so on the weekend – time, weather and finances permitting, hubby and I usually try to do something (or several things) fun with the kids and rope in a friend or two, usually with their kids in tow.
Some parts of our weekend still has some routine in it. Like Hayden’s swimming lessons. But they’re supposed to be part of a plan…no I’m not hoping that my eldest will turn out to be the next Chad le Clos (although that would be welcomed too). I simply don’t want my children to become another drowning statistic.
Here are a list of 10 things that I do or places that I visit on the weekends that keep me sane and the kids entertained:
Virgin Active in Constantia: No, I am not a fitness nut. Far from it. The gym offers many advantages and provides an infrastructure of support for parents. There’s swimming lessons on a Saturday morning for my toddler and the baby gets to play in the creche. Yes, the beauty about Virgin Active is that it has a creche which looks after the kids for you while you work out or, ahem, take that much needed rest in the steam room or the restaurant. Yes, I’m not going to hide it. I take my son to the creche straight after the swimming lessons so that I can exercise and then relax with a tall flat white, some poached eggs with chorizo and smoky bacon and a newspaper. Before you gasp and judge, I believe that once I have had some exercise and a refreshing shower – one where I don’t get a little person opening the door asking me to switch the TV channel because he’s bored of watching Blaze and the Monster Machines – I am more energised and can keep up. I’m glad that Virgin Active has a creche – it’s a godsend.
I joined a playgroup: When my firstborn, Hayden, was young and an only child I attended the Moms and Tots Playgroup in Rondebosch. It was ideal because it was early on a Saturday morning for a maximum of two hours, which left the rest of the day to enjoy after Hayden had a nap – these classes were fun and would exhaust him. The class would consist of about ten or so moms and offer free play, messy art play, sensory play and the opportunity to have some snacks, drinks and to socialise after the workshop had ended.
Victoria & Alfred (V&A) Waterfront: This place is always a winner as it has a host of restaurants and shops to browse as well as outdoor play areas. Recently, Hamley’s opened its doors here and rival toy store Toy Kingdom also has loads of products for children to choose from and play areas to keep them amused. Just outside the Watershed you can treat your children to some ice cream and cookie sandwiches. Yes you heard right! Crumbs and Cream are also strategically located next to a kids play area, which is perfect for them to work off all that sugar.
Hout Bay Harbour: On sunny days you can walk along the beach and let the kids dip their toes (and in our case more) in the water. Then you can stroll by the pier and admire the fishing boats. You’ll probably see a seal or two and loads of sea gulls of course. Why not have a bite to eat at Snoekies if you love your seafood. The restaurant also has a huge play area, which is free to access, on the top deck to keep your toddlers amused for hours.
Kirstenbosch Gardens: There’s lots to see and do here. Walk along the picturesque Tree Canopy Walkway (informally known as the Boomslang) – it’s pram friendly provided you take right route to it otherwise there’s a load of steps to navigate. There’s also some dinosaur statues on display left over from an exhibition that started in 2015. They’re not easy to locate, but you can find more information about it here, or better yet ask for directions when you get there to avoid disappointing the kids.
Beaches: In the summer months Capetonians are spoilt for choice when it comes to the beaches. But perhaps the most interesting one out of all of them is Boulders – a sheltered beach which boasts flocks of penguins. Other child friendly beaches include St James, with its tidal pool; Fish Hoek, which is excellent for boogie boarding and Muizenberg Beach which also has a water slide, outdoor swimming pool and putt-putt (mini-golf) course.
Tokai Forest: Earlier this year Tokai Forest made headlines for all the wrong reasons as a young woman by the name of Franziska Blöchliger was attacked and murdered there so you’re probably wondering why I am still recommending this as a family destination. Despite the potential for crime, Tokai Forest is still an ideal family venue and when we went out there last weekend with Hayden (3) and Sebastian (10 months) there were plenty of walkers out with their dogs and riders on bikes and horses. Capetonians are spoilt for choice when it comes to places to hike for the family, the key is to be vigilant and to never walk alone and on unfamiliar routes.
The movies: OK, we only just took Hayden to the movies this past weekend for the first time, but it was a complete hit. What’s more if you are a Discovery Vitality member kids get free tickets. Adults have to pay but there’s discounts for them too if they are on Vitality. Alternatively, get discounts if you are an Edgars Clubcard member with Ster-Kinekor or if you have a Clicks Club Card you get discounts with Nu Metro.
Indoor play venues: We’ve been to The Playshed at the Oude Molen Eco Village in Pinelands, be.UP Park (also in Pinelands), the Kids Shack in Wynberg and Planet Kids in Muizenberg. I prefer The Playshed as it’s all on one level on the ground floor (unlike the Kids Shack which is accessible only through a flight of stairs – so not really pram friendly) and also because it’s right next door to a riding school so Hayden gets to pet the horses on the way to the venue. Keep an eye on these venues’ Facebook pages as they update you about their opening times and as and when they get booked up for exclusive birthday parties. You may also want to avoid them during peak hours and just after they’ve hosted a party as the venues can get a bit messy. Other indoor places to consider is the recently opened be.UP Park in Pinelands and Planet Kids in Muizenberg. be.UP is definitely pricier than The Playshed and the Kids Shack but it sports a range of facilities including a maze, climbing walls and a trampoline area. There’s also a cafe which offers free Wi-Fi and snacks for the bored adults. Planet Kids meanwhile is one of the more reasonably priced venues. It boasts jumping castles, slides, intergalactic ball walls and more.
Sea Point Promenade: Sea Point Promenade has it all. There’s jungle gyms, heaps of space for the kids to ride their bikes or scooters, the beach, a pool (with a kids splash pool) and a miniature Blue Train that kids can take a ride on for a minimal fee of R15 and enjoy the sea views with their parents. Take note that on summer months it can be a nightmare to find parking. The Sea Point pool is also very popular so be sure to rock up there early as you want to avoid standing in the queues for too long.
Lourensford: We visited this stunning wine estate on Women’s Day and it was well worth the visit. It has a free form jungle gyms, lots of space for the children to run around in and best of all the play area is fenced in! There are several tables and chairs within the play arena which enables parents to keep a watchful eye while eating their meal. But this is not by any means the only child friendly wine estate and I intend to review many more.
Parks: There are several parks that I visit on a regular basis and most of them are close to where I live in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town. They include: Paradise Park in Newlands, a family friendly greenbelt with lots of play apparatus, which was created by a local resident; Keurboom Park, has a toddler play area which is enclosed from the rest of the park which has many more play areas to entertain the kids and Choo Choo Park which has a life sized train in the centre that kids can clamber on.
There are many venues you can attend (both indoor and outdoor) with your children in Cape Town. I’ve listed twelve but this is by no means the definitive list of child friendly venues that this great city has on offer. This is just some of the venues I’ve visited recently or attend frequently as they are favourites and a hit every time with the kids. There’s lots more to see and do, and I’ll be sure to include them all in the blog as and when I visit them with the kids. Till then, you are more than welcome to offer suggestions and commentary on the places I’ve already suggested.