It’s not often you leave a children’s play centre in tears … oh wait, no, that’s utter nonsense. I quite regularly leave children’s playcentres in tears, but for very different reasons than why I left Little Love Club with smudged mascara (another fib. I haven’t worn eye makeup since 2004) and a sniffly snuffly nose.
Little Love Club, you see, is a playcentre quite unlike any other - certainly in Perth, which is where my experience of playcentres lies. And that’s due, in no small part, to its creator, Lauren. And yeah, she’s the creator. She’s the owner and the founder and the boss lady, but creator seems to suit Little Love Club better, maybe because it’s a creative little play space in Wembley - or Churchlands, depending on which mood Google Maps is in on the day.
I’ve had my eye on Little Love Club for a while - which sounds a bit sinister, but only means that I stalk Instagram looking for cool places to take the kids - and this place caught my eye for a few reasons. No big kids. Creative classes. Cool design. And fitness classes while the kids play. This was the big one. I spend my life trying to sneak exercise into my everyday routine. This is harder than it sounds. OH you people without kids, popping into body attack classes whenever the timetable dictates, heading out for a run JUST BECAUSE YOU FEEL LIKE IT. Me, I sneak into half-hour KettleWorx classes when I’m supposed to getting milk from Woollies. I run around the mean streets of Craigie while Ben’s warming up for his Sunday morning football match. I’m not as bad as that mad woman I saw at the museum last weekend, doing tricep dips on the dinosaur exhibit, but I’m fairly creative at finding ways to sweat. And yes, my gym has a creche, but Frankie won’t go in it, so that’s put paid to that. But Little Love Club, well, let me tell you. Your kids are in the same room as the HIIT classes, and they can sit at the little tables and draw and colour and paint and stick while you do your crazy-arse burpee tuck jumps. Ingenious, no?
Which is why, of course, I turned up wearing my gym kit, but the classes weren’t on, so I just looked like a bit of a dill, truth be told. Frankie and Alice were booked into a creative class, which take place in a separate room, but Frankie took one look at the fairy teacher and freaked. He’s weird like that. Alice wanted to stay, of course, so I ended up with one kid screaming because he wanted to escape the fairy and another screaming because she wanted to sing Wind the Bobbin Up with the fairy. It was a conundrum. Hey, parents of more than one child: what DO you do in those situations? I don’t mean what do you do when faced with a fairy, I mean what do you do when one kid wants to go in one direction and the other in a different direction? Choose the one who slept past 6am? Anyway, I chose Frankie, because he screamed the loudest, and we went off to explore the rest of Little Love Club, with a coffee (included in the entrance fee, YES).
The downstairs of Little Love Club is zoned into three areas - one for painting and sticking and colouring, another for sitting, and a separate little room with fuzzy felt walls (DOUBLE YES) and chalk boards and cushions. It’s softly lit, chilled out and perfect for little people in the midst of a major tantrum.
Head up the astro-turfed stairs and you’ll find what I can only describe as a mother’s group wonderland. More astro-turf, cushions, dress ups and blackboard walls. It’s kind of what I imagine the inside of Frankie’s head to look like. Pretty things and fun things and cute little corners to fire up a small person’s imagination - fire stations and desert islands and work benches and fairy grottoes and home corners. It’s been designed with such LOVE and creativity and heart and soul that I knew there must be a story behind it. There is.
I already knew that proceeds from Little Love Club go to the Women and Infants' Research Foundation at King Edward Hospital. I just didn’t know that there’s a wonderful and very moving reason why. Lauren’s little boy, you see, has an incredibly rare lung condition. He was diagnosed when Lauren was halfway through her pregnancy, and underwent a ridiculous number of operations in utero, and after he was born. Can you imagine having your life ruled by percentages? Survival rates and success rates and mortality rates and complication rates? The odds were stacked against Oscar, who - three cheers! - just turned one, and is doing WELL.
Lauren attributes his survival - and her sanity - to the wonderful staff at the research centre. So, as soon as she could, she set up Little Love Club. This is what overwhelms me. This lady - with a little boy only months old, and only recently out of hospital, and still not completely out of danger - decided that she wanted to devote her time - and her energy, and her money - to creating something for other mothers, in order to raise funds for a foundation that means everything to her and her family. Does that not restore your faith in humanity? Make you put the dishes and the washing and the tantrums and the homework and the uneaten dinner into perspective?
It should. It should make you want to visit Little Love Club even if it was a shit-hole. The fact that it’s not - the fact that it’s the sweetest, warmest, most inspiring little play space in Perth should make you go tomorrow. Book in for creative classes, book in for fitness classes, pop in for a coffee and a chat, just go, and say hello to Lauren, and thank her for being the loveliest human possible.
Little Love Club's at Unit 4/271 Selby St, Churchlands, and is open Monday to Friday from 7.30-1.30. You should go.