My friend calls winter ‘soft-play-season’ and she dreads it every year. Year one of having children I thought she was just being miserable, and I loved watching my baby boy smile as some slightly clownish adults sang nursery rhymes to him in a church hall. In Year two I was too preoccupied with the new baby in our lives to care much where we were or what we were doing. Now in Year 3, with two children and myself desperate to leave the house on these typical English drizzly days, I am pulling my hair out about where to go and dread the inevitable soft-play options. It is true — the kids have fun, but at the sacrifice of my sanity. I find myself looking around wondering sometimes what has happened to my life? I know that I’m lucky to be hanging out with these two brilliant people, but is it a requisite that places for children should totally alienate adults? I realise I’m sounding grumpy (seriously … if you could see the weather!) but do not fret, here I come to the good bit…
Since moving South I have often heard of the place ‘Cupcake’ (in Putney and Wandsworth) in association with descriptors such as ‘haven’ and ‘God-send’. And so last week I asked whether it was OK to come and check it out (Cupcake is a members only club and I’m not a member …. yet!). The minute I walked in I felt a sort of happiness come over me. This didn’t feel loud (from noise or from an interiors-carnage) — no this felt like being in a (stylish) friend’s living room… only a bit bigger and with a bar to order lattes, brownies, babyccinos or something for lunch — perfect!
And that’s not all. There was also: a Snug — a cosy room with a few more toys and a ball-pool for the kids, a Creche — ofsted registered where members can leave their children for up to 4 hours (of which 2 can be off-site), a Gym and Studio with the typical equipment, a special ‘lounger’ where Mums and (especially) Mums-to-be can lie down for a comfort power-snooze, and lastly (and this is where it gets really good) an array of treatment rooms.
Cupcake was deliberately set up to support women in that most fabulous life transition from ‘lady with only herself to worry about’ to ‘Mum with baby/children to worry about’. After speaking to Mums they found that they wanted a place where they could: have some me-time, re-tone their bodies after pregnancy, have special ante-natal fitness classes during pregnancy, have bespoke spa-treatments, have a chance to talk about the new challenges in their lives and to learn ways to deal with them, and most importantly meet some like-minded Mums — all in a welcoming, child-friendly environment (not much hey!).
Amazingly that’s just what Cupcake has achieved. They offer a wide variety of spa-treatments (and have the largest selection of specialist Pregnancy treatments in London) and have a really broad spectrum of classes, seminars and kids activities. Whilst there I attended a puppet-show (which my children loved), but I love the sound of ‘Brainstorm in a Teacup’ where women have a chance to discuss business ideas to help each other find answers to any worries or hurdles they have come up against (I do find having children brings out an entrepenerial streak in many women!). There is also a packed fitness-class schedule and talks which cover typical concerns e.g. “Establishing Good Sleeping Habits” or “Finding the right Childcare”.
What struck me most about Cupcake was how everyone knows each other. The fact that it is a members club means you get to see the same people there and immediately a community is formed. All the people working there know everyone (including the children) by name and it therefore feels so much more personal. I can’t believe that my birthday has just passed otherwise Cupcake membership would definitely be on my wish-list.
For details on membership or the treatments available (which are also open to non-members) you can e-mail Cupcake at: firstname.lastname@example.org.