Paint and Play
Where: All Sorts Action Studios
160 Bourke Rd, Alexandria
When: Every Monday, Wednesday & Thursday, 10am – 12pm
Cost: $12 per child or $20 for two siblings
From its gleaming facade Sydney Corporate Park in Alexandria looks like just another bland industrial estate, not the kind of place you’d expect mums, babies and pre-schoolers to gather. Yet this maze of concrete, glass and stainless steel is home to All Sorts Action Studios, a haven for local parents. Action Studios is a fancy party venue and headquarters for the well known Adele’s Action Kids franchise. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays it hosts Paint & Play, a morning of fun activities designed for the under 5s. Run by the respected childcare professional Kirsten Doubek, these sessions are a wonderful alternative to playgroup.
Kirsten has thought of absolutely everything and Mums are welcome to pitch in as much or as little as they like. The pristine inside space is a nirvana for toddlers, set up with oodles of shiny new toys. There’s a dress up corner, (which my 5 year old headed straight for), playdough, and a craft table. The outside area is an inviting suntrap, scattered with exciting cubby houses, and toddler climbing frames. The great news is that its fully fenced, so you can duck out fearlessly for a heart starting coffee. Not that have to even step outside the gate, as complimentary tea and coffee is available inside. A healthy morning tea, of fruit and crackers is served then the kids knuckle down to the serious business of bubble chasing, parachute play, dancing, singing and story time.
As Kirsten traipses about with a bubble gun the littlies follow her squealing in delight. Parachute time is a big hit. Its amazing how a piece of circular fabric can provide so much entertainment but the kids absolutely love it. Kirsten then brings out the “big guns”, the twirling ribbons! The kids get in the zone, with some freestyle grooves to the tune of Lazy Town. Blame it on the boogie but after this the young ones are tuckered out enough to sit calmly and listen to a story.
The whole experience is like the best bits of daycare compressed into 2 hours. The facility has a comfortable baby change area and plenty of quiet corners for discreet breastfeeding, making it ideal for Mums with toddlers and newborns. In fact the place is overflowing with chatting Mums, gently rocking sleeping infants in prams whilst their toddlers are entertained.
How It All Came Together
Kirsten Doubek’s passion and enthusiasm for this project is infectious but Paint and Play wasn’t something that was years in the planning. Rather Kirsten could be described as an accidental mumtrepreneur. Opportunity knocked unexpectedly and Kirsten welcomed it in. Kirsten has a long history in childcare, having worked in a number of daycares and as a nanny since her teenage years. Taking time out of the paid workforce with her two young daughters, she took on the role of co-ordinator and treasurer for the Clovelly playgroup. This became a hit with local families and out of the blue Kirsten was contacted by Adele of Adele’s Action Kids. They were looking for someone to run play sessions at Action Studios and offered Kirsten the position. Whilst it was an opportunity too good to pass up, Paint and Play was difficult to get off the ground. Kirsten’s husband had serious misgivings and she was unable to get a business loan. Undeterred she ploughed ahead and boldly put all her start up costs on her credit card.
Paint and Play was officially launched in May 2011. It quickly attracted a loyal following and by the end of the year the business had paid for itself. Its momentum is testimony to the power of word of mouth. Kirsten hasn’t had to do much marketing other than list with the Sydney Child Magazine and website. Its a genuine example of “if you build it, they will come”. For the Doubek family the business has been more than just a financial success, its given them an enviable work/life balance. Kirsten takes her two daughters aged 5 and 2 along to the sessions. She also gets the girls involved in the planning process at home using them as guinea pigs for new craft ideas. Its something that they love doing together.
If you’re looking for a stress free activity for toddlers come and check out what this talented and enterprising Mum is doing. For more information see: