For the last couple of days, I’ve been mulling over what topic to cover for my inaugural piece for Macaroni Kid. When my girlfriend asked me and my boys to join her and her family at the Big Playhouse in Westwood, it still didn’t dawn on me to write about it. Only after I got there did I think: Wow, this place is amazing… Macaroni Moms need to hear about this!
I realized the moment we approached the front door that the Big Playhouse was designed with safety in mind. Not only is the front door always locked but attendance is by reservation only, so you are assured of a safe and secure time while there. Further, the staff is incredibly attentive. Once we entered, manager, Darlene Chestnutt, gave us an intro and tour and for the rest of our visit she ensured that my children were taken care of, my questions were answered, and that toys and whatever else were left wherever the kids left them. Which means we didn’t have to worry about tidying up. That took some getting used to. Seriously. And, it was so nice not to worry about cleaning up! Not only does the Big Playhouse have staff on hand to ensure the play areas are clean and safe, staffers bring all toys back to where they belong. This allows children to focus on imaginative play as they bring toys from play area to play area.
Now, let me tell you about the rooms. The Big Playhouse is set up with several play areas each with a different theme. There’s a doctor’s office, a salon, a grocery store, a barn, and so on… and each one is equipped with the appropriate toys and costumes. Owner, Larine Baratta, states that her focus is on “good old-fashioned dramatic play” and, honestly, I forgot how critical that is for little ones. I had planned to stay 90 minutes or so but close to 3 hours later we were still there, and still there with such enthusiasm! And, my boys hadn’t even seen all of the rooms yet. Moreover, there is café like seating for the grown-ups. Feel free to bring your coffee because you can enjoy it (at last!) from the comfort of the café area while watching your little ones run wild with their imagination.
For all of us Macaroni Moms that live on this side of Bergen County, I will tell you that it IS a bit of a drive. However, if you have a toddler and/or a preschooler at home (I have one of each!) and are looking for options for imaginative play in a safe AND clean environment, this is an option you cannot overlook.
The Big Playhouse, located on 316B Kinderkamack Road in Westwood, is suitable for children six and under. If you’re looking for something festive, they are hosting a “Tutu and BowTie Holiday Party” on Dec 22nd. Visit thebigplayhouse.com or call 201-314-6341.
Alaine De Leon/Macaroni Mom Blogger
Full-time Mother, Part-time Writer