Usually, a trip out shopping with two small children leads to exhaustion and screaming – for both them and myself (although my screaming is often silent, in my head).
The constant complaints of ‘I’m hungry, I’m bored, I DON’T LIKE THAT, I need the toilet (for the fifteenth time)…’ can make just the idea of going out to buy something extremely unappealing.
But not so with Kiddicare. Ever since I took the Wee Man to the Peterborough store at only a few months old (to get his BeSafe iZi Car Seat) and had a brilliant day thanks to the lovely cafe and play area, it’s been one of the few shopping trips I actually look forward to rather than dreading. Although we’ve used the online shopping service a lot (I love how quick the delivery is, the texts that tell you when to expect it, and the very competitive prices) sometimes it is nice to actually be able to look at, try, and feel potential purchases – especially big things like car seats and pushchairs.
Then, they bought 10 former Best Buy stores, spent £15million making them parent and child friendly, and opened their doors for fun and fuss free shopping.
Excitingly for me (oh yes, and the kids) there are several around London!
Yesterday we were invited along to the #KiddicareHayes blogger event to take a look at the new Hayes Kiddicare store.
That was no surprise, given that I’ve been to three of the other Kiddicare stores and they’re all set out very similarly. But every time I walk in and see the floor to ceiling displays of pushchairs, high chairs, car seats…; the brightly coloured signage; the fact that amazingly there is still room to manouvre trolleys, pushchairs and excited small children around easily, it still amazes me that so much has been fitted in successfully and thoughtfully into the space.
Car seats: there are car seat fitting bays outside the store, and a system so that you don’t have to stand around like a lemon waiting for staff to be free to help you. Instead, if it’s busy, you can type your details into a tablet and then as well as having the queue displayed on a giant screen, you’ll get a text when it’s your turn to be served. Brilliant!
Pushchairs: They really do know their stuff. I went along with a list of things that I’m after – double thin enough for buses, lightweight, side by side, can take a buggy board for the future, suitable from birth but also for four year olds, seat capacity of higher than the standard 15kg and height adjustable. The staff knew the answers straight away to all my questions, gave me a thorough walk through of the two best options, and then even let the Wee Man and Bubby D have a go in one up and down the pushchair track!
Or, if you already have a pushchair and don’t really want to invest in a new one, but it’s looking and acting a bit miserable, then you can take it along for a free buggy MOT (whether you bought it from Kiddicare or not)! They’ll do a five point check, repair most minor things on the spot, and give you a loan pushchair if it needs to be sent off for more difficult repairs. What a great service! I’ve got a three year old Maclaren that I think I’ll be getting checked over…
Try before you buy: One of the things the kids REALLY hate about a lot of shops is that they can’t actually try anything out. It can make it difficult as a parent to gauge whether they’ll actually play with something for more than two minutes if you buy it, too. But Kiddicare have a play area in the middle of the store where they can try out some of the bigger things – hoppers, dolls houses, play houses, slides, pushchairs… – and also a play area in the cafe, with a selection of toys as well.
It’s not just toys either – there is an avenue of safety gates actually set up in doorframes (so I can see which ones the Wee Man CAN’T get open!), baby carriers or highchairs or change bags to try, and Bubby D’s personal favourite – a row of toddler beds all set up with bedding.
Cafe: We LOVE the cafe. The Wee Man and Bubby D had a children’s lunchbox each which came with sandwich, drink, bag of apples and grapes and two snacks, all for £3. I had a lovely toasted panini and side salad, from the various options available for adults. And the Wee Man also had a Kiddycino which he was very proud of, especially since it had miniature marshmallows on top! For £10 I could easily feed myself and two children, and best of all get to enjoy my lunch too because once they were finished they were very happy to go and play. Enjoying lunch with several friends is easy too, because there is a big community table available with room for lots of parents and highchairs!
Toilets: Inevitably needed after a Kiddycino and an entire fruit juice! The toilets are fantastic, with parent and child cubicles big enough to get a pushchair in too. I love the signs by the locks with sad faces for kids locking themselves in, and Wee Man and Bubby D both adored the child sized sink and hand driers with blue lights that shine on your hands whilst drying. (Wee Man is normally afraid of hand driers but I had to literally drag him away from these ones!)
Baby Change: It’s communal, giving mums and dads equal nappy changing access. There are toys hung from the ceiling to entertain little ones, and everything you need in easy reach – plus plenty of room to park up your pushchair too.
Feeding area: With big squidgy chairs, a water cooler, and entertaining pictures on the walls and reading material to making feeding easy and comfortable whether bottle or breastfeeding. The Wee Man thought the pictures were hilarious!
Pricing: Liking gadgets as I do, I’m really impressed with the electronic tags which can be instantly adjusted meaning prices (very competitive prices too) can always be kept up to date easily. The price you pay in store is the same price you pay online – and speaking of that, if you see something in store that you want but can’t carry home, you can easily order it instore using one of the terminals dotted around, and have it delivered straight to your door quickly and easily!
Very Important Baby (V.I.B.): I know I was overwhelmed when I was getting ready for the arrival of the Wee Man, and didn’t really know what to get. Kiddicare offer a free V.I.B. service which helps to plan what you might want to get for imminent little ones, taking into account budget and personal preferences. They’ve just introduced interest free credit for purchases over £500 as well, which I would really have found useful when we bought our pushchair, cot, sling, car seat, bouncer…
Events: It’s unlikely – given the play areas, child friendly food, and toilets that the Wee Man is keen on using regularly – that we’d even need some additional entertainment. But even so there is some available, in the Events Room which has a programme of various classes and is free for charity / parents groups to meet in too. We got to try out a session from Dinky Dancers and the Wee Man spent the whole time with a huge grin on his face. Even Bubby D, who by that time was cranky as she was too excited to nap, managed to get over the howling and bring out the smiles again for a spot of ‘feather snow’ and a go in the parachute ‘washing machine’!
The little things: We love the cafe sign surrounded by spoons, the animal height charts on the walls, the bump mirror…all the little touches that make this a quirky and interesting store to shop in with lots to keep little ones amused too.
I may still have ended the day exhausted – but this time it was in a good way!
Fun for the kids, fuss free shopping for me… we’ll definitely be back soon 🙂