When you drive up to Happy Acres in Y Block, DHA, the store front stands apart from the pizzeria on its left and the optician’s on the right with its joyful logo font and store window displaying an adorable trio of bow-and-neckerchief wearing teddy bears enjoying a picnic. You feel immediately invited in, and curious at the very least about what lies within this plaza, nestled in the heart of Defence’s main commercial district.
Happy Acres is the very first ‘play cafe’ in Lahore, where mothers of young kids can bring their children to play while they get a chance to sit back and relax — a concept that has unsurprisingly gained a lot of popularity around the world, given that mothers in general are always in need of a break from the routine of their daily duties as parents.
Founded by Saadia Rehman and Mohammad Ali Syed, the mission statement of this particular place is “fun with purpose.” It seeks to promote skill building and teach children important values and ethics whilst providing a hygienic and safe environment. In addition to offering unique and modern play spaces, party arrangements, and activity-based learning opportunities, Happy Acres also features a nail bar where mothers can get a manicure or a massage, a café where quality food is served for adults, and fresh, healthy and fun meals are available for children. There is also a wi-fi lounge where the grown-ups can sit around and/or work while the children play.
The ground floor of the play café boasts a soft play area complete with a zip line activity, jungle gym, and ball pit for children — all of which is sanitised every night to ensure hygiene standards are maintained.
Walking into Happy Acres, the delightful sounds of children zigzagging through the hurdles in the soft play zone, whooshing down the zip line and climbing up the rope bridge only reinforce the positive and uplifting atmosphere and philosophy of this play café.
Climbing up the stairs to the first floor one can find a wonderfully well thought out ‘Pretend World’ for kids up to six years old which aims to foster childhood development through role playing for small children. By making an interactive space divided up into a kitchen, laundry room, café, library, house, dress-up station, car track and gas pump, all on a small scale with high-quality toys and accessories, children can immerse themselves in a magical world of make-believe and simultaneously learn important life skills.
The energy at Happy Acres is truly infectious, perhaps a credit to the founder Saadia Rehman who has a background in Human Resources and a long and successful corporate career backing up her methods.
A staunch believer in a culture of giving and receiving respect, Mrs Rehman calls her employees “family” and all customers are referred to as “young friends.” There is a sense of camaraderie and connection between the staff, parents, and children who come together in this place, all working to ensure that children have the most fun possible whilst productively learning important life skills.
For most modern moms, trying to keep their child entertained without indulging in screen time such as television and tablets can often be exhausting which involves a lot of time and effort. Fun-filled arts and crafts, activities such as mug painting and play doh encourage creativity, and children can also pot plants and learn about nature.
Specially trained staff at the play café expertly guide the children through the activities which also include circle time, dancing, and singing. Knowing that your child is in safe hands within viewing distance ensures that moms and dads can take a break, order a pina colada, and a delectable snack from the menu, and peacefully read or work on a project in the wi-fi lounge while the children play. For any parent, there could be no better way to spend a day off or an afternoon with a deadline looming.