There are certain things I miss about having toddlers, but the feeling of dread I used to get whenever they spotted one of those bacteria-infested indoor playgrounds is not one of them. Show me a 2-year-old who can walk by a bright, deceptively happy-looking ball pit without going completely insane and I'll show you ... well, I'll show you a ball pit that isn't germier than the average toilet seat. Because most of them are!!!
I always suspected that this was the case, but my new hero, mom-turned-documentary-filmmaker Erin Carr-Jordan, proved that the playgrounds found at fast food joints (and a billion other places) are primary colored-petri dishes. Grossed out by the local playspaces her son loved, Carr-Jordan complained to owners ... who did nothing. So Carr-Jordan took matters into her own hands (hope she was wearing gloves!).
Carr-Jordan not only filmed the dirty equipment to prove her point, she swabbed surfaces and collected samples from playspaces in seven different states and paid out-of-pocket for the evidence to be tested at labs. And guess what?
Eight of the nine locations tested turned out positive for fecal matter. Ewwwww. But not surprising! I can't even tell you how many times my kids and/or their friends came down with mysterious stomach bugs within 24 hours or so of playing in one of those "kid-friendly" pits of poop. How many times have you seen a toddler mindlessly put one of those balls in his mouth?? Ick.
The big issue is that where the cleanliness of public bathrooms, for example, is regulated by law, there are no such requirements for toddler playspaces. And apparently we can't take it for granted that the people in charge of these places will keep them clean out of the goodness of their hearts, or even fear of being sued.
Are you grossed out by indoor playspaces?
Image via DieselDemon/Flickr