A bright airy room, a series of mini play-zones and an open plan table arrangement where you can sit with your coffee or lunch and watch your preschoolers play – welcome to Tot's Spot, a unique play cafe for West Lothian.
Tot's Spot is the creation of Danielle and Simone, and was a concept they had wanted to put into action for a long time. When the former library building in East Calder became available it proved to be the ideal premises, and Tot's Spot has been open a year this summer. “We’d visited play cafes in Edinburgh and really wanted one closer home. Soft plays are too noisy and intense for Simone’s son, so we used to go to play cafes in Edinburgh, designed for up to six year olds, a more calm play environment and, best of all, we can sit and keep an eye on them without needing to crawl up slides and squeeze through tunnels!” They have achieved a lot in their first year, and have plenty of ideas to keep developing what they have already started here.
The idea was for it to feel like a big homely living room. Instead of soft play, it is more role-play with, for example, a play kitchen; a ship; a nurse’s station; lego table; a little house; dress ups, and more. These are arranged around the edges of the room, and the cafe tables are beside them. It is all very open and airy and there is also a cosy sofa corner, popular with mum and babies.
The idea was for it to feel like a big homely living room
Danielle left her job in marketing when her daughter was young, and set up a business called “Baby Sensory” which she ran for a few years before selling it. With her husband Steve, they run West Lothian Football Academy, and her mum runs a private nursery, so early years activities and development are very much in the family. Along with her business partner Simone, who is a mortgage advisor, they run Tots Spot as a not-for-profit community resource. “We wanted to create somewhere that is safe and easy for young parents to come with their little ones, meet other people and find a community, support and activities.” So besides the cafe itself, a whole host of meet-ups, classes, groups and activities happen at Tots Spot. New mummy meet ups, breastfeeding support, baby massage, music, and a range of pop-up shops, to name a few.
“We wanted to create somewhere that is safe and easy for young parents to come with their little ones, meet other people and find a community, support and activities.
“We’re foodies, so the food in the café is very important to us,” explains Danielle. The kitchen is small, but the idea is that the cafe element generates enough income to cover the costs of keeping the centre running (they do takeaway coffees too). Like a soft-play, there is an entry fee, although that also covers some of the support meet ups, and they give passes free of charge to groups and charities. Entry is for unlimited play time, and is free for under 6 months, £2.25 for 6 to 12 months, and £3.95 for 1 to 6 years. There is a good sized garden area at the back which they are hoping to make available this summer with outdoor seating and play equipment.
Please see their facebook page or call 01506 207770 for more information.
Article published in Konect July 2019
Author: Helen-Jane Shearer
Tots Spot is a Community Interest Company registered in Scotland, number 620101.