“Top Five Fun and engaging activities for toddlers in Epsom”
By Lindsay Ryan
We’ve all been there. What do you do with a monster or two when the weather is questionable? Epsom and surrounds have loads of inspiring places to go on a regular basis, on the weekend with the whole family, or that special day out.
1. Soft Play – cost rating £ fun rating ***
There is nothing much higher on a toddler’s favourites list than a bouncy castle. We are spoilt for choice around Epsom with Soft Play venues including Once Upon a Time (in the town centre, so eminently walkable), Jellybugs in the Harrier Centre in West Ewell, Jupiter Jo’s on Cox Lane in West Ewell and Gummy Bears on Ruxley Lane. Costs vary at each location, but the choice on offer means that you and monster will never get bored of the equipment, or yummy food and drink on offer. My personal favourite, despite being the newest on the list is Once Upon a Time, run by Louise Henson. Only open since January this year, it’s well worth trying out, if you haven’t been before!
2. Parks – cost rating 0! fun rating **
We live in a beautiful part of the country and have gorgeous parks on our doorstep. Even if the weather is threatening, bundle up the kids and go for a walk to your local park, or one slightly further than you normally go to. Our local is Court House Recreation Ground, with good playground facilities for younger and older children, plus tennis courts and five a side pitch. Our other favourite is Rosebery Park, feeding the ducks and enjoying the different play equipment on offer. Horton Country Park is fantastic for long walks in the afternoon light, patting the horses if you choose, or finding some late blackberries – yum!
3. Hobbledown – cost rating £££ fun rating **
Horton’s Children’s Farm has been renovated, revamped and rebranded to become Hobbledown – all at immense cost, which they’ve passed onto their customers. I find the entrance prices eye-watering at best, but I’ve been assured the best (only!) way to do it is to get an annual pass. It still doesn’t gain you immediate access in busy periods, but with the immense play barn it is a great idea for hanging out on those long winter days. The new animals outside are good, with meerkats, otters and white wallabies, and a big hit is the outdoor bouncy pillow… can you sense a theme here?
4. Activity classes – cost rating ££ fun rating ***
Classes exist from birth these days, and whether it’s baby massage, sensory, swimming or music and dance lessons you will find lots of them do free taster sessions, or have introductory or booking discounts. Swimming can be found at the Rainbow Leisure Centre or David Lloyd. Massage classes can be found at local Sure Start Centres, and now at Once Upon a Time – same with baby sensory on Saturday mornings too. Music is alive and well with Harmony Tots at Once Upon a Time, as well as bigger businesses Monkey Music and Jo Jingles available at other locations around Epsom. My advice is to pick and choose wisely. Maternity leave is great for spending time and money on a baby, but once they become toddlers, and you possibly head back to work, there is less time available to go to every class on offer! Classes should be fun, engaging and enjoyable for you and the monster!
5. Sure Start Centres – cost rating £ fun rating **
The local Sure Start centre is a great (and cheap!) resource for all kinds of parenting advice, activity sessions and some discounted classes. We go to the Pound Lane one regularly, and I have seen a real growth in the provision. Remember, if we don’t use these centres, the government takes away their funding! We’ve done Baby Boogie Mites, Bumps and Babes and currently the Stay and Play on Wednesday morning. They can get booked up very quickly though, so best to call/book ahead if possible.
Above all, spending quality time with your kids while they are toddlers is ultimately what we’re all aiming to do. It’s not necessary to break the bank each week to entertain them, rather seize opportunities to introduce them to new activities or places when you can – and I must admit, I LOVE getting to jump on a bouncy castle again, because I have a toddler!
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