Face it, we all have things we love and hate about Milwaukee. But, complaining and focusing on the negative leads nowhere. So, in this column we highlight an issue that we think needs to be addressed, discussed and solved. Every "This Sucks" feature tells you why we think something sucks, offers commentary, opinions, solutions and, of course, gives you the chance to weigh in through our exclusive talkback feature.
What sucks: There aren't enough indoor play areas for kids, which are highly needed during the winter. Even worse, most of the open gym times that are available take place during the week, which doesn't accommodate most working parents, and few programs are in the city of Milwaukee.
Why it sucks: Everybody gets a little stir crazy during the winter months, especially kids. Unfortunately, there aren't many places to take a child to burn off steam -- especially over the weekend.
"Many of the music and movement classes, gymnastics clubs and swim clubs, and almost all of the Milwaukee Recreation Department's summer programs are during the day on weekdays. In a city where it seems most families are either two-income families or single-parent families, does this make sense?" asks Riverwest's Laura Williams.
Sure, there are always McDonald's Playlands, but often times they are overcrowded, questionably clean and in an environment selling unhealthy food. Considering the childhood obesity problem in this country, do you really want half-pint to super-size before he hits kindergarten?
Most shopping malls have play areas as well, but few are completely enclosed, making it very easy for little ones to wander off. Plus, like the McDonald's Playlands, the actual "play" is secondary to the experience of eating and/or shopping.
Swiss Turner's Gymnastics in West Allis, 2214 S. 116th St., has an open gym on Mondays from 12 to 1:30 p.m.; Wednesdays from 10 to 11:30 a.m.; and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Why don't they offer weekend gym time so the children of working parents can enjoy the facility?
"I honestly don't know," says Swiss Turners' Kate Vollmer.
Midwest Twisters of Hartland, 602 Industrial Ct., has open gym for preschoolers on Tuesday and Friday mornings, and Wednesday afternoons. The Twisters in Oak Creek, 600 E. Rawson Ave., offers Thursday and Friday mornings. Neither offers such programming on the weekends.
Gymboree Play & Music, N112 W15800 Mequon Rd. and 2205 N. Calhoun Rd., doesn't solve the problem either.
"Gymboree is outrageously expensive, and like everything else in this city, geared toward stay-at-home moms who can bring the kids in at 11 a.m. on weekday mornings," says Williams.
Unfortunately, there simply are not enough indoor playgrounds in Milwaukee. The few that exist are mostly in the suburban areas and lack weekend play time, which makes it difficult if not impossible for working parents to take their kids into a healthy, energetic environment.
What you can do to make it not suck: For starters, take matters into your own hands by organizing a rotating playgroup where families with large basements and play spaces host play groups in the winter, and those with smaller homes can return the favor by opening their backyards to the group in the summer.
But for real change, talk about the issue in a constructive way to generate a buzz. Bring it up with other parents, caregivers and employees of already-existing play centers and maybe -- just maybe -- if the idea got into the mind of the right entrepreneur, Milwaukee could someday have a slew of indoor playgrounds like those in larger U.S. cities.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.