THERE IS NO SPACE AS SACRED TO TIRED PARENTS OF CHAOS-CREATING, MENTAL-ENERGY-CONSUMING MINI-MES AS THE PARENT-SUPPORTIVE HUNGRY PEACOCK CAFE IN TYABB, SO I’M JUST GOING TO ASSUME THAT YOU ARE ALREADY COMPLETELY AWARE OF IT. WHAT YOU MAY NOT BE AWARE OF IS THE KID-KABOOM-FRIENDLY ACTIVITY ZONE IN THE BARN, RIGHT BESIDE THE COOL CAFE, CALLED THE BUSY PEACOCK.
By David Hawkins
The Busy Peacock is a “sensory play space” tailor made for children to get creatively crazy and to be as messy as they please. Located inside the wonderful aesthetic of a vintage barn, the Busy Peacock contains a range of crafty, colourful activities all designed to allow your kids to get wet, painted, sandy and creative in a safe zone. And you can leave the clean-up for the staff!
As soon as you step through the open doorway and into the spacious barn you will feel yourself enveloped by the natural, wooden interior and a sense of being away from the regular hustle-bustle of family life. Simply slip your munchkins into one of the green plastic smocks provided, spin them around ten times and point them at any of the variety of activities to get messy and have fun. I could tell that my monkeys would have fun but I wasn’t prepared for just how much they would throw themselves into it.
The available activities change weekly, ensuring that each visit will be a new experience with different sensory-based interactions. Whatever is on offer you can guarantee that it will be tactile, in line with play-based education and has the potential to get seriously messy. When my littl’uns and I attended, the range of play included a water tub full of squishy water-beads and ladles, a big blackboard and chalk, dinosaurs in a land of magic sand, a wall to paint on, windows with squirters and squidgy wipers, a craft table, and a treasure-hunt sand pit.
If your children have attention spans as flea-like as mine then the room full of things to do allows them to change their minds every minute and still not get bored within the 45 minute play session. And no matter what they are into, you’ll find something that they will enjoy because the activities are all sensory. Does your daughter love to dig A son who can’t stop splashing? One twin who colours whilst the other knocks things down? All sorted.
My wee-folk are aged 2 and 4, and they both jumped in feet first (literally) into the sand pit. There was nothing that was too complex for the younger fella nor too simple for the almost-schooler. I think we averaged 5 minutes per play zone before running onto the next, although the trusty old craft table did sink its claws in for a solid 15 minutes due to the inclusion of scissors, glue sticks and foam bits. Even Phenom-A-Mum got crafty at the craft table and made a fishy picture (she may have had more fu than our kids!).
It was a rather freeing experience as a parent to not have to stress out about the munchkins trashing some fancy play area or limit their craziness because of the potential cleaning flood that could occur doing these things at home. The green smocks were a blessing and completely protected my kids’ upper clothing, though I was glad that we brought along a change of clothes (as strongly suggested by the Busy Peacock) due to water-logged gumboots and damp tracky-daks.
The Busy Peacock is open six days a week (Tuesday to Sunday) and runs two 45-minute play sessions at 9:30am and 11:15am. They recommend booking via their facebook page or contacting their mobile number for busy periods such as weekends and school holidays. You can also book out the playspace for parties of 20 kids or more for $250 (pricing correct at time of publication).
There is always a staff member available but remember that this is not a ‘supervised’ space and you do need to watch your kids, to ensure that the one and only rule is followed – to not mix the materials between the activities.
And, if you need something extra special to occupy your miniature copies during the school holidays, the Busy Peacock also run guided activities in the adjacent church building. Previous sessions have included cake-pop making, fairy garden construction and creating and using story rocks.
Our 45 minute session flew by too quickly. I believe that my little men could easily have continued playing into a second session, unfortunately we had arrived for the 11:15am time slot with no more on offer. Not only am I certain that we will return for another big play very soon, but the experience has reminded me that I can set up some of these simple activities at home as well… just have to plan for the clean up if I do it there!
If you often find yourself grabbing a cuppa at the cafe next door, it’s well worth thinking about heading in a bit earlier to set your kids free to have some messy fun. And if you haven’t been to visit this great place before, you might be missing out.
David Hawkins is a Peninsula based stay-at-home-dad who realised that he needed to improve his Dadding. So he set himself the simple task of being an Awesome Dad. He now challenges all dads to be awesome dads, by doing something out-of-the-ordinary with their kids.