As a mum, I am all too familiar with the longing to catch up with friends to have a coffee, and to enjoy that coffee hot and uninterrupted. Sounds dreamy right? However, most mums, like myself, will avoid these social situations for fear of spending the whole time picking sugar sachets up off the floor, wiping up spilled glasses of water from the table, or worse chasing a child around the busy cafe with onlookers staring with sour looks on their faces as you are obviously disrupting their child-free time. The children aren’t to be blamed though, they don’t want to sit at a boring cafe for an hour, confined to a chair with no physical stimulation available.
Now, in Oakleigh, you can check-in your children and enjoy up to two blissfully child-free hours on the weekend without your cherubs, and have lunch or a cake and coffee. Soulitsa Zevgaras and her business partner Angela Christophidis were recently on holiday in the US when they came up with an idea to make catching up with friends for some adult conversation much easier. Their business Secret Door Events launched ‘Valet for Kids’ two-hour creative activities sessions this month and having received early bookings foresee it to be quite a success. They run three daily sessions on Saturdays and Sundays, with an additional early evening session on Saturdays. Each session can have a maximum of 12 children (aged from four to 12 years of age). Each hour you book costs $20 (cheaper than a baby-sitter), and the hosts are all qualified and hold Working with Children Checks.
Soulitsa and Angela have worked together for many years and built up a close friendship. Angela told me how “she (Soulitsa) is fully qualified and totally amazing with kids” so she decided to steal her away and hire her as her nanny. This meant that on their recent trip to the US, Soulitsa accompanied the Christophidis family and while using the kids’ club they came up with the idea for Valet for Kids. Angela, an entrepreneur, told me how qualified Soulitsa is for the job and how as she already trusted her with her own family, it was an easy decision to trust her with a business venture. “We have so many mothers that bring their children with them to get their hair done at the salon (Blo Bar) when it should be a relaxing experience, so we thought about how great it would be for busy mums to have an outlet and a way to unwind. Somewhere for them to leave their kids, even if it was just for a coffee, or grocery shopping.”
Valet for Kids includes activities such as making playdough, painting tiles, creating lava lamps, colouring in, dancing, puzzles, or quiet time reading books. Their vision included a place for children to be stimulated without a screen; to show kids they can have fun without a tablet or electronic device. “It’s an alternative for parents fed up with iPad games and who want their children to have interaction with other children that doesn’t involve school. We want to entertain them the old-fashioned way, like cooking and creating things; even activities as simple and fun as making paper planes or origami.”
Secret Door Events have hosted children’s parties since last November. Now the secret is definitely out and has proved to be popular. They are located at 22 Atherton Road in Oakleigh, which makes it really easy to drop off the kids and be able to enjoy some free time knowing the children are supervised and enjoying themselves. There are many different party packages to choose from. They are meticulously planned out with great attention to detail, the best part being that there is no setting up or cleaning up afterwards for you, unlike when hosting at home.
The parties cater for children between the ages of four and 12 years old with a maximum of 25 children per party. Each party booking includes four hostesses, one of whom is the event coordinator, meaning no guest is left wanting throughout the party. The bookings also include personalised party invitations, fully-styled table settings to match your chosen theme, music and lighting (with cool tracks playing thoughout the party), games and activities, a photo booth, lolly bags for the guests, and a special gift for the birthday child. If that isn’t enough for your little prince or princess Secret Door Events also have a variety of vintage carts available to hire for those wanting to add more to their parties, at affordable rates.