We’ve all got favorites, but in the tug-a-war of parenting, sometimes our faves get relegated to the sad backwaters of Maybe Next Time Land so that our littles stay happy. Your favorite lunch spot serves lentil and goat cheese salad; their’s serves grilled cheese with ketchup. Your favorite classes are in zen-like yoga studios; their’s are in pandaemonium-filled rooms with a million kinds of glitter and/or marimbas (but hey, at least they take that coma-like nap afterwards, right?). Their favorite playground is a little too close for comfort to the busy street; your favorite park is two blocks from your BFF, has awesome benches and free WiFi, but it’s missing the jungle gym where the kids can hang upside-down like the little monkeys they are.
If you’ve been searching for a spot that might just be everyone’s favorite, look no further than ROMP!
Anne Deenenzo, owner and mastermind of ROMP, is all about making kids and their “significant others” happy. Her vision for this modern play space grew out of the belief that “happiness” for the modern family meant more than a life of driving from one structured activity to the next. Yes, the kids need place to learn, and to play, but everyone also needs to eat (preferably, something nutritious and not primarily consumed while in a car seat), parents need to work (or even just make a dentist appointment without a background chorus of “Butterfly Driving A Truck”), and once in a while, we’d like to make a new friend, or connect with an old one in a way that feels really meaningful and fun. And voila! ROMP was born.
A Play Space That’s (gasp) Pretty?
No garish laughing clown faces or cutesy primary color palettes here. Deenenzo wanted to create an sophisticated atmosphere where parents could imagine themselves throwing a dinner party (in fact, you can rent it out, and do just that!) and where kids were excited to explore what was around every corner. Decorated in warm grey and cream tones, with pops of perky orange, this place is calm, comfortable and charming.
It’s the house you wish you had — the tidy one that’s the perfect mix of Euro-modernity and arts-and-crafts charm. The one with all the perfect simple touches (like lovely fresh-cut flowers just out of reach of little hands). The one with enough wide open space that its restful to the eye, and the one with enough cool toys to silence even the most sincere sibling spat as soon as you walk through the doors. The one with a stocked fridge (with food you didn’t have to shop for!) and the kitchen with brushed stainless appliances and red enamel stools that make you actually excited about cracking open a cookbook again. The one where your kids laugh and giggle with their friends, and the ones where you give a deep relaxing sigh and feel right at home. Yeah, that one.
Ready to Romp!
To the lay parent, ROMP looks like a magical piece of Kid Heaven, but its creation was no miracle. Deenenzo has put a ton of time, love and attention into creating a space that best allows little minds to delight in unstructured, child-led play. Deenenzo notes that toys have been specifically selected to target gross-motor skills (climb up the castle, bounce into enormous bean bags, roll on a bug-car), as well as activities that boost right brain development, creativity and cooperation (do a chalk mural, grab a fireman’s uniform from the dress-up box and save the day, or help a pal build a tower with enormous foam LEGOs).
For the littlest Rompers, there’s a nook perfect for exploring sensory toys and having some tummy time. A quiet room is available for older kids who want to do art (or homework), and ample space is kept wide open so that kids can keep their tag-you’re-it skills up to snuff, even in the rainy months. New toys will be added each month to keep things fresh and interesting. And for us big folk, perks include an awesome assortment of design, cooking and travel magazines, as well as free WiFi.
Classes & More…
ROMP is all about spontaneity. Deenenzo hopes that the open space and unstructured time will encourage her members to do what they’d do at home: like baking cookies with the kids or making a cup of tea and finding a friendly face to ask a bit of advice. But if you need a bit more structure, there will certainly be cooking classes (Deenenzo’s a passionate cook; hence the outrageously gorgeous kitchen), and each week, a speech therapist trained in positive discipline will have office hours at ROMP to act as a parent resource and host play groups.
Structured classes and events won’t stop there though. In addition to the main play area and communal eating areas (one just for little people and one for bigs and littles), ROMP has a bright activity room, which Deenenzo plans to use for everything from zumba and yoga classes to private parties. ROMP’s neighbor, the good folks at Mills Music, will keep the place well-stocked with instruments and tunes for both scheduled and impromptu music times. There’s also room to host homework groups, book clubs and art classes. And, in keeping with her goal of building a place for the whole family, Deenenzo is planning a calendar of events that kids and parents can enjoy together, as well as classes and workshops that kids and grown-ups can attend on their own. (Bring on the family movie nights! As well as the trunk shows and stylist-hosted evenings to help mama get her groove back!).
The Scoop on Grub
The kitchen at Romp is yours to use (except the stove, for safety reasons). So, bring your snacks, or your whole lunch (or a frozen pizza to heat up in the oven!) and skip that extra step of finding a pre-nap meal before heading home from a play date. A tiny army of high chairs and a kid-sized tables are available for easy meal times, and you can even use their dishes and dishwasher. Does it get any easier? If you forgot your lunch, lots of great snack are available for purchase (including whole fruits, yogurt, and string cheese) and ROMP will be ordering in or catering lunches from local spots that you can sign up for as well.
All The Details
Romp is a membership based enrichment center and indoor playspace, but drop-ins are welcome to romp at ROMP and non-members can rent the space for private events. A few notes:
1) If you want to check out the space before joining, make an play date appointment to preview it.
2) Membership maxes out at 100 families this summer, so sign up early to ensure your spot.
3) Family Membership includes parents, child(ren), grandparents and a nanny/babysitter.
4) Membership also gets you a discount for classes and workshops and party space rentals.
13500 Bel-Red Rd., Suite 7
Bellevue Wa, 98005
Online: romp-community.com and on Facebook
Cost: $50 annual registration fee + 1 child ($98/month); $25/month for each additional child (3 month commitment)
Hours: Monday – Friday 10:00 am – 6:00 pm; Weekends 9:00 am – 1:00 pm (Closed Wednesdays)
Have you been to ROMP? What’s your favorite feature? We would love to hear about your experience in a comment below.
–Katie Gruver (she even took the photos!)