As a mum of three, the majority of my shopping takes place on an evening, when the kids are in bed and I can head up to the Trafford Centre with a friend. Shopping with the kids can be hard work and not always that productive. McArthurGlen Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet are working hard to make life easier for you this summer holidays with a whole range of family friendly facilities. They invited us over to visit them last month to check out what’s on offer this Summer.
You will notice from the pictures I’m about to share that they are missing a significant member of our family. I’d like to say that he was behind the camera and that Dave’s photography skills have stepped up a gear however that’s not the case. Dave was actually on a stag weekend and our shopping trip was accompanied by a very lovely photographer who captured our day for us! (Yes, I felt like a proper celebrity and it was hilarious).
Cheshire Oaks itself is really easy to find, located just off Junction 10 of the M53 and less than an hour from our home in Manchester. With ample free parking, including 33 parent and child parking spaces, you should be able to start your shopping trip off feeling relaxed.
Cheshire Oaks offers a range of family friendly options for refreshments ranging from Giraffe to McDonalds, many of which offer baby food heating facilities and have high chairs available for use. We began our day with a fabulous brunch at Giraffe. Ben and Chloe were most entertained at the prospect of having a backwards morning – I had explained we would be having a snack at breakfast time and breakfast at snack time. Our meal set us up nicely for a morning of browsing the shops!
The Mall at Cheshire Oaks is laid out like a long looped street with 135 stores lining your way. Of course this makes life much easier as you just set off and work your way round, not having to worry about missing any of your favourite stores along the way. The range of stores at Cheshire Oaks is huge; from high street favourites like Next and Marks & Spencer through to Mulberry and Polo Ralph Lauren. As you work your way around the outlet there’s plenty of seating for you to stop and rest your legs along with coin operated rides to treat the little ones and break up the shopping trip for them. There are a number of baby changing options and a quiet family room which can be used for breast feeding should you require some privacy. It’s worth noting that the baby changing room I used was quite small and I couldn’t get the pushchair and all three children in. In fact I couldn’t actually get the pushchair in and shut the door so I left Ben outside with the pushchair and took Chloe in with me whilst I changed Amy. This was hardly ideal as I wasn’t keen on Ben being out of my sight and in future I would ensure I used one of the disabled toilets which have baby change stations in. Definitely a moment where I wished I had Dave with me!
Throughout the summer holidays Cheshire Oaks will be hosting a “Summer Camp” each Wednesday. These free activities will have a different theme each week including Mad Science (29th July) and Cup Cake Decorating (19th August). The Summer Camp is set up near the covered play area. Ben, Chloe and Amy really enjoyed being able to take part in the Growing Up Green activity. They were each given a pot to colour in before being helped to plant their very own seed to take home. The guys running the activity were really lovely, their warm and friendly attitudes meant the kids were immediately comfortable chatting to them and everything was really well thought out from providing wet wipes for cleaning up afterwards to making sure the pots were covered for easy transportation. This sort of attention to detail meant that allowing your children to take part in the activity didn’t add any extra fuss or hassle to your shopping trip.
I must admit that shopping for us often involves a certain amount of bargaining, and I don’t mean with the shop staff. If you’ve been shopping with kids then I’d put good money on the fact you’ll have uttered the phrase “If you’re really good whilst we do the shopping we’ll have an ice cream afterwards“. Safe to say we all enjoyed our ice creams sitting in the fabulous wheelbarrow chairs at the Cheshire Farm Ice Cream stand. (I can recommend the White Chocolate, Raspberry & Oreo flavour!) A current popular deal in our family is “The longer you let me shop, the longer we’ll be able to play for afterwards“. Ben and Chloe were thrilled with the enormous multi level adventure playground at Cheshire Oaks and the promise of being able to explore it kept them focused for quite a while whilst I got my shopping jobs done! The fact it was covered was an added bonus on such a hot, sunny day as I didn’t need to worry about them getting too much sun (of course this would be equally beneficial on a wet and miserable day too!)
Shopping with toddlers can be tricky. Amy is at a stage where I need her to be in her pram so that she’s safe and I know where she is however she gets bored easily, she loves to walk and explore. Hiring out the McArthur car for her was a real game changer during our recent shopping trip. She went from feeling trapped in her pushchair to thinking she was just playing and exploring! There are 16 kiddy cabs available for use by children over 2.5 years of age. There’s a refundable deposit of £10 and a hire charge of £5 for a full day which I think was more than worth it. I’m not saying I’d hire one every time I went shopping but for the extra time it bought us and the entertainment for Amy it was great value.
I was really quite nervous about taking my three small children on a long shopping trip on my own but actually it was a great success, so much so that we’re going over again this Sunday but taking Daddy for support! Perhaps this time I’ll look at a few bits and pieces for myself instead of them!
*Disclaimer – We spent the day at Cheshire Oaks as guests of McArthurGlen. All thoughts and opinions remain our own*