It’s been seven weeks as a newly minted mum and you’re ready to step out with the babe… Here are 12 places for you and your mini-me to check out!
For most first time mothers the early weeks after childbirth are a roller coaster of snuggles and delicious baby smells, combined with swollen boobs, raging hormones and the real fear you may never sit down again without wincing.
Yes, there are some mamas that insist the baby won’t change their lives and immediately go out and about after being discharged from the hospital. But for the majority of new mums there is an overwhelming need to hunker down in your nest, cuddle and stare in wonder at this tiny, wonderful human (who may scream in your face for hours!).
Once you clear the first month, you start to think about getting out of your pjs and having a proper shower. Once you pass six weeks, you toy with the idea of venturing to your local shops. But it’s usually at the seven week mark you feel the two of you are really ready to face the wider world and emerge from the apartment cocoon. It can be daunting stepping out into the mayhem and bustle of Hong Kong, so here’s a rundown of good places to go to with your baby, to meet other new mothers, to clear the cobwebs, and to escape the claustrophobia of high rise living.
Funzone (Kennedy Town) Mummy Coffee Mornings
If you’re already a parent you’ll be familiar with the sweet relief that a trip to Funzone brings, especially on rainy days. It’s 10,000 square feet of freedom for your kids to leap, run, swing and slide to their hearts content. There are also comfy sofas for the exhausted ones to collapse on for a few minutes (before the inevitable cry of “Mummy watch me!”). Now, the Funzone team in Kennedy Town are going the extra mile to help parents, particularly new ones by launching a monthly Mummy Coffee Morning which will feature special activities and talks relating to child-rearing. The dates are still being confirmed but the first event will be in April
Opening Times: Monday-Thursdays 10am-7pm, Friday, Saturday and Public Holidays 10am-9pm
Funzone, Shop 121-123, Podium Level 1, The Westwood, 8 Belcher’s Street, Hong Kong, www.funzone.com.hk
St. John’s Cathedral Playgroup
Set up by the wonderful, inimitable Vanda Cole for her children when they were young, this playgroup has saved the sanity of wave after wave of new parents in Hong Kong. The top floor is set aside for younger babies – mostly under one year old. There are plenty of toys to play with and soft mats so your little ones can roll and wriggle with abandon. The lower floor is generally for bigger kids and has various options to ride, push and climb. It’s a lovely opportunity to meet other parents, and St John’s is easy to get and not too busy. Did we mention there is cake and tea too? You are expected to help with the set up and clear up. This playgroup is specifically for parents rather than nannies or helpers. Vanda still presides over activities most weeks and leads the adorable sing song time that draws the session to a close.
Opening Times: Thursdays – 2.30pm-4.30pm
How much: $20 entry
St John’s Cathedral Playgroup, Fanny Li Hall, St John’s Cathedral, 4-8 Garden Road, Central, Hong Kong, www.stjohnscathedral.org.hk
The lack of MTR means this playgroup is really most accessible for Southside mamas, but if you do make the effort to go, you’ll be rewarded with an idyllic setting. Held in the grounds of St. Stephen’s College there is plenty of space indoors and out, which for Hong Kong is something of a luxury. The sessions involve lots of free play, but there are also arts and crafts activities, plus singing and dancing.
Opening Times: Mondays and Thursdays – 9.15am – 11.15am (term-time only)
How much: Entry $65
St. Stephen’s Playgroup, St Stephen’s Chapel, St. Stephen’s College, 22 Tung Tau Wan Road, Stanley, Hong Kong, www.facebook.com/groups/st.stephensplaygroup
Tots & Teapots
The indomitable Lu Mullens has set up this playgroup for DB mums offering two sessions on a Monday. The “Rockers & Rollers” class is aimed at bubs from birth to around eight months while the “Toddling Tikes” group is for those crawling, standing, and toddling for bubbas up to 18 months. The first hour or so is free play, giving the baby a safe place to explore, but also giving parents a chance to meet others with children of similar ages. In the final 20 minutes, Lu teaches some baby sign language and leads a singalong with actions with plenty of ideas that parents can take home. She says: “The idea is mums (almost always mums) get to meet each other whilst the babies have some exposure to socialising with other tots in a fun and safe environment full of toys that they aren’t bored with.” Tea and coffee is also provided and there is a Friday session for helpers or nannies to attend with the little ones.
Opening Times: Mondays – Rockers & Rollers (1pm-2.30pm); Toddling Tikes (2.30pm-4pm)
How much: Entry $100/session or $400 for a block of 5 sessions
Tots & Teapots, 3D Joyful Mansion, Discovery Bay, Hong Kong, www.facebook.com/Tots-Teapots
The Sai Kung Playhouse
The Playhouse offers a range of activities for the under 5’s but their drop-in session on a Thursday is a blast, particularly as it’s suitable from birth and takes into consideration that it can be hard to commit to regular classes. Bright and fun, there’s singing, dancing, and even painting for those that fancy it.
Opening Times: Thursdays 9am-12noon
How much: Entry $100
Sai Kung Play House, 1/F, 11 Man Nin Street, Sai Kung Town Centre, Sai Kung, Hong Kong, www.thesaikungplayhouse.com
This little group offers a little structure with set aside snack time and circle time, but there is still plenty of toys and fun to be had. For bigger kids there are opportunities for messy play. And of course, it’s a nice environment for mums and dads to relax with good facilities and hot drinks.
Opening Times: Wednesdays – 9.30am -11am
How much: Entry $80
Playdays, Chinese Methodist Church, Methodist House, 36 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, www.facebook.com/PlaydaysHK
Kowloon mummies fear not, there is somewhere for you to escape to with your wee ones too! The United Services Recreation Club (USRC) playgroup is close to Jordan MTR and has sizeable places to play both indoors and out, including a playground with swings. There’s an array of toys for different ages and of course the obligatory end of session singalong. They usually plan something special to celebrate events such as Chinese New Year and Easter. There’s plenty of tea and biscuits to soothe frazzled parents, and it’s no problem to just drop in.
Opening Times: Tuesdays and Fridays – 9.30am – 11.30am
How much: Entry $88 for 1 child & 1 parent, an additional $35 per extra child/parent.
USRC Playgroup, United Services Recreation Club, 1 Gascoigne Road, King’s Park, Kowloon, Hong Kong, www.facebook.com/pages/USRC-Playgroup
The Clipper Lounge
If you want to make something of your re-entry into the world, then afternoon tea at this Hong Kong institution with your antenatal group or favourite friends is the answer! It has a very relaxed atmosphere during the week, and if you opt for an area towards the entrance, then there is space for a small group with little ones in tow. You might be lucky and have your babes nap the whole way through the tea service, but if not, you can easily escape to the mall if you need to pace about to soothe a fussy infant. They have high chairs for older ones but it’s best to inform the helpful staff when you are booking that you plan to come with babies.
Opening Times: Daily – 6.30am to 9.30pm
The Clipper Lounge, The Clipper Lounge, M/F, Mandarin Oriental, 5 Connaught Road Central, Hong Kong, www.landmark.hk/dining/clipper-lounge
Cafe 8 at the Maritime Museum
If you can avoid the lunchtime rush, then this place is really quite magical as a first (or regular) place to go with a baby. It’s light and airy, and relatively hidden away. Try to bag a sofa spot, sit back and take a breath. Most babies under six months find the bright maritime art work mesmerising so it can help calm the restless. If you are really struggling, head to the outdoor terrace for a bit. If it all goes wrong, you’re not far from the MTR, the ferry piers, or a taxi rank! Keep in mind the cafe is a social enterprise run by the Maritime Museum and the Nesbitt Centre providing employment for those with special needs.
Opening Times: Daily – 10am to 7pm
Maritime Museum, Central Ferry Pier No. 8, Man Kwong Street, Central, Hong Kong, www.hkmaritimemuseum.org
Named in part after the beloved teacher Jean Heathfield, Rosie Jeans is Hong Kong’s first child-friendly cafe and a firm favourite with mid-levels families. It serves all the cafe classics as well as traditional-style sweets and cakes that certainly British parents would love. The vintage-style decor and large terrace adds to the relaxed vibe. There’s also a separate outdoor play area available on weekdays from 4:45pm onwards Monday through Friday as well as all-day at the weekends for $20. There are high chairs and facilities for changing babies, plus free wifi and charging stations. It’s hugely popular at weekends, but if you go mid-morning or mid-afternoon during the week it’s still possible to have a sofa just for you and bubba.
Opening Times: Daily – 7.30am – 8pm
Rosie Jeans, 119 Caine Road, Central, Hong Kong, www.rosiejeanscafe.com
Prêt-A-Manger – The Causeway Centre
Yes, you read correctly…we are recommending a Prêt! If you are in the Wan Chai area or need to make a pit stop after taking the ferry from Kowloon, then this two-floor cafe is a great place to meet up with mummy friends. Outside of rush hour and lunch, it’s relatively quiet and there are lots of soft chairs and sofas that actually make breast feeding in public quite comfortable (and staff don’t bat an eyelid or direct you to the loo when you do it). Look out for Ravi, who is an absolute angel and seems to take care of everyone, but especially harried parents. He’s so attentive and thoughtful it’s hard to believe he hasn’t been snapped up by a top restaurant group. He doesn’t wait for you to ask but just offers to help carry your food, bring your orders up and makes sure you are aren’t carrying a baby and a hot beverage at the same time. The toilet facilities are not geared for nappy changing but they are clean. This place gets busier if there is a major event on at the HK Exhibition Centre nearby.
Prêt-A-Manger, Shop 114-118, Causeway Centre, 28 Harbour Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
By LTThomas, originally published on The Seventh Week Step: Time To Face the World, Mamas! – Sassy Mama