Playgroups in East Sheen
By Sue Lancaster
For a stay-at-home mum to a young toddler, it can often be difficult to find fun things to do, especially in the long winter months when it’s cold and rainy outside. Whenever my little girl, Tabitha, and I stay cooped up indoors for any length of time, we both get a bit fed up and restless, which is where our local play centres come in very handy. They offer a change of scenery, with plenty of space to run around, lots of different toys to play with and plenty of other kids to interact with. In the past I’ve attempted ‘messy play’ at home—it always seems like a good idea beforehand—but for the few minutes’ attention that gets paid to the play, the aftermath of mess just isn’t worth it. At play centres, kids can paint, colour, glue, mould play dough and splash water to their hearts’ content and it doesn’t matter as it is not being ground into your carpet or splattered across your white walls.
Here are a few of my favourite playgroups in the Mortlake and East Sheen area:
The fun club at Mortlake Hall runs every weekday morning during term time, from 10am to noon. It costs £4 per family to get in (or £1.50 for concessions). The main hall has a soft corner for babies and an area for adults to sit and enjoy a hot drink for just 50p. Throughout the three rooms there are puzzles, giant building blocks, a play kitchen, a doll’s house, books, buggies and plenty of arts and crafts. If it is a nice enough day there is outdoor space with a big slide, sandpit, trikes and balls. Halfway through the session, trays of healthy snacks and beakers of water are brought out for the children.
The great thing about Stay & Play is that it is free to go—you just have to be registered with the children’s centre (which you can do on arrival). Held a couple of mornings each week at the Powerstation on Mortlake High Street, it consists of one big hall filled with fun things to do. There’s painting, play dough, water play, lots and lots of toys, plus an area for babies. During the session, which runs from 9:30 to 11:30am, they have a ‘snack café’ where the little ones can sit together and eat fruit and breadsticks; it’s great for developing their social skills. Towards the end, everyone helps to tidy up and there are some stories and songs to finish off.
Tiddlywinks is held every Monday morning from 9:30 till 11:30am at St Mary’s Church in Mortlake. Costing just £2 to enter, there are various toys dotted around in the main church area, as well as tables for colouring and puzzles and a corner for dressing up in one of the side rooms. Adults can enjoy a hot drink for 50p, while there are plates of snacks and beakers of water laid out for the children. It is very informal and welcoming and at the end they have stories and songs.
Located just off Upper Richmond Road heading towards Putney is Jumping Jacks Play Café. This is a great place to meet up with old friends or even make new friends while your children play in a fun and safe environment. At one end is the café offering plenty of tables to socialise around and serving hot drinks, cakes and sandwiches. Behind this is a baby area and then the rest of the space is dedicated to toys, bikes and push-alongs galore with a huge bouncy castle taking up the opposite end. Jumping Jacks is open Monday to Friday from 10am to 3pm and costs £4 for over-ones or £2 for babies.