Feet up? Not if the kids play up


It’s Mother’s Day this weekend. My gift to all you tired, hardworking mums is my guide to upcoming fun things to do with (or without) the kids. As we all know, if they are not happy. . . there is no way we are going to be allowed to be!

Stacey Caister, Splitz Dance Academy

Stacey is a mum and hardworking dance teacher and business woman. She is Splitz: the children’s dance school at Rye Sports Centre. Only 25 years old, Stacey has been running the successful academy for six years already. She does everything from branding and teaching to spreadsheets and management. Stacey has put herself out there, making things happen in Rye and building her future. For that, she is Rye Royalty.

Disney Workshop Day, April 2, 10am-2pm

Splitz is running this for girls and boys, age two-and-a-half to 16. Stacey tells me quite a few “little princes and princesses” have signed up already. They can enjoy arts, crafts, singalong and dance, all dressed up as their favourite Disney character. Mine would have to be Merlin the Wizard from The Sword in the Stone, in his shorts and sunglasses, angrily surfing back from Bermuda on a comet of fire and sparkles and hating the 20th century. Hard look to pull off. He did it though. The workshop is on Thursday April 2, 10am- 2pm, Rye Sports Centre. Admission £10. Fancy dress. Bring a packed lunch.

Disney Dance Workshop

Kids Pop Up Salon, March 31, 2-5.30pm

Fun, games, fancy dress and £5 haircuts, all in the name of charity, Aveda Earth Month. Guilt-free time with the kids at the luxurious Rye Retreat, which smells like a sweet dream in a rainforest.

Kids Day at The Rye Retreat.
Kids day at The Rye Retreat
Ladybird By Design, De La Warr Pavillion, Bexhill. Until May 5, admission free

Admire the skill and beauty in these iconic Ladybird children’s book illustrations. Laugh at the quaint sexism and stereotyping of a sunshiny time when men were men, women were housewives and there was no chewing gum on pavements. A mother takes the children upstairs to bed, while father waves goodnight from the bottom of the stairs. Men work and women shop. Witches, butchered meat and candy floss pink princess dresses are all brought to life in this fascinating and beautiful glimpse into the not-so-distant past. My two-year-old loved the exhibition as much as I did.

There are display cabinets and an activity table at toddler height. The simplest trick up the De La Warr’s sleeve is the play table in the cafe. It’s a rare place that I can go with my two-year-old and have a coffee in peace while he plays!

Having a pram or young children can make you an instant irritant to a lot of people. I was told by a woman in a shop in Cranbrook, as I struggled in with my pram, that her shop “isn’t designed for prams”. And there is a sign on a shop window in Rye that states: “No prams or pushchairs allowed. Dogs welcome.” Unbelievable. Did people in the past learn to walk on the day they were born, like deer, in case a predator considered them a meal option? Who is out spending money on the weekdays, keeping business ticking over? Parents. Me! The De La Warr time and time again makes us feel welcome, and that it’s OK to have a life after starting a family. I even took my little one to a daytime rave there, last year, with my child-free friends. We all loved it. Admission is free at the De La Warr, but donations are welcome.

Cinderella. Ladybird books.
Cinderella: the Ladybird version
The Penny Arcade, Rye Heritage Centre, The Strand. Admission free

Swap new coins for old pennies and operate these old pier amusements. Most are creepy, but I say “do something every day that scares you”. There is a Haunted Graveyard, Davey Jones Locker, a Ventriloquist’s Dummy and a Crying Baby, all of which spring into action when the old coins are inserted. This place is an atmospheric little timewarp.

Creepy fun at The Penny Arcade
Creepy fun at The Penny Arcade
V & A Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green, London. Admission free

There is enough here to satisfy everyone. There really is no way of summarising this place as the exhibitions vary as wildly as a child’s imagination. And I guess that is the point. We saw, among many other experiences, an exhibition of early dolls’ houses, including one owned by a Doctor Killer. It was called The Killer Cabinet. Our little boy loved dressing up and relaxing on the sofa in front of the TV in the 1960s apartment room. The shop and the crazy party entrance display were my highlights.

museum of childhood
That dress. That party. At the V & A Museum of Childhood

I’ll be back in two weeks. Let me know if you take my advice and check these events out! Keep tweeting, FaceBooking and letting me know if you want to feature in Rye Me!

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