I always struggle to think of somewhere to take my daughter when we have days out just her and me during the week. She is at an age now where she is easily bored so I need to take her to places that keep her entertained as well as providing all the necessary facilities to keep her fed, watered and clean. To my surprise the garden centre was a huge hit with her last week. Here’s why…
It’s full of people who love babies: I don’t think I am speaking out of turn when I say that garden centres attract a lot of older people. People who actually care what their gardens look like and take pride in what goes in them. It just so happens that babies are like catnip for ladies of a certain age so you can guarantee a warm welcome from staff and other customers when you go. Plus, many of them are mums too- so they can hold a conversation with you about motherhood and how it’s all changed since they were in your position.
There’s usually a café: Which is great for if you need to feed your baby with the food or milk you’ve brought from home. Or there’s usually baby food and snacks for little people available if they are at the weaning stage. So they can nibble on something in their high chair while you gobble down your tea and scone because this is a must when you go to a garden centre.
The changing facilities are good: I never thought I would get to a point where this mattered, but it is high on my list of priorities now. I’m not speaking for all garden centres here- choose wisely- but if you find a nice once- the changing facilities have everything you need for a positive experience. Little things like a clean changing area (not one you have to rub down with a baby wipe first), accessible soap, an adjoining toilet for you to relieve yourself too and a bin that has a foot pedal. If you’re a mum, you’ll know that all of these things are a godsend when it’s nappy off time.
It’s a calm environment: Shopping centres, high streets and supermarkets are the usual haunts of ladies and their babies- but they can get crowded and stressful. Garden centres generally have some easy listening music playing in the background as you mosey on through the aisles, which will only help to soothe your baby- if not put them to sleep, while you stockpile on nice jams.
It’s not just for gardeners: If you’re not green fingered in the slightest- like me- there is still plenty to look at in the other areas of a garden centre. Namely all the fancy snacks, books and kitchenware that is often available in the gifts section of the store. So, if you want to buy your little one a bit of something before you leave that isn’t a plant- there are plenty of options.
Some have play areas for children: If you do your research, there are garden centres out there that have soft play areas for babies too. So, if you’re feeling adventurous and want to combine your trip with some play group vibes- there are options out there if you look.
It’s great in all weather conditions: If the sun is cracking the flags outside, they have aircon, if it’s pouring down, you can avoid the outdoorsy areas and just enjoy shopping for early Christmas presents and eating the free samples.