I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…every parenting blogger has a soft play post in them. If you’ve read one, have you read them all? Maybe…but with so much inspirational material, it’d be rude not to fulfil my bloggy destiny in creating my version of events.
Soft play. We hate it, or do we love it? Or do we just love to hate it? Either way, when faced with another long day at home, or the inevitable ‘my place or yours’ (YOURS) conversation…it’s always a safe option.
Soft play venues are easily recognisable by their names which include any combination of a number of standard words including: Monkey, Kidz, Zone, Mad, Bonkers, Jungle, Bananas, Go, Town, Krazy. You might also smell the grease coming from the ‘kid friendly’ kitchen from a two mile radius. It’s no coincidence the place is basically a padded cell with a splash of primary colour-tastic plastic.
You can get through it, for the sake of your kids, as long as you follow a few Golden rules. And I’m not talking about ‘Don’t climb up the slide’ here.
Golden Rule 1: Soft Play on a Saturday? No effing way.
Soft play is tolerable, if you are able to find a table to dump your gear (hide decent shoes under a pile of coats). If you have ever made the mistake of deciding to take Daddy along one Saturday to experience the joys of soft play that he normally misses out on, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Where the hell did all these people come from? And has anybody seen my child? Oh there she is, being trampled under the balls in the ball pit… by a twelve year old.
The entry fee to soft play is pretty changeable. God knows what the cost is for 0-6 months, 6-12 months, 1-3, 3-5, 5-8, 9-11. Meal deal? Half price day? All I know is my unusually small child is going to be 11.5 months old for a very long time. (Feeling like a teenager trying to get into a over 18’s nightclub as I work out when her birthday would be if she really were 7 months younger…just in case I’m quizzed). Then there is the added complication of Meal deal? Half price day? Oh…while we’re on that subject…
Golden Rule 2: Soft Play on discount day? No effing way.
Just pay an extra quid and go to the one across town charging full price…it’ll be empty whilst all the hoards head towards the bargain basement. (Says she, skanking her way out of an extra few quid for her one year old).
Soft play, for me has to be a team event. Supervising two kids with opposing personalities means I will spend the afternoon rescuing a crying four year old from the top of a slide, whilst holding onto the toes of her kamikaze baby sister, already head first down that same giant slide. Buddying up with other Mums (or Dads) means you can tag team like a military squad…alternating rescue missions through human pasta making machines whilst leaving the sibling contingent in safe hands.
Team Super Mums have been seen throwing kids and babies down crazy slides whilst subteam Super Mums catches at the bottom and stops any getaways. Smooth. All we need to finish the look is some security style headsets. Therefore, for me…
Golden Rule 4: Soft play on a lonely day? No effing way.
Not so much of a problem if you’re supervising a solo child brimming with confidence and physical ability. But if you’re family is expanding?…
Golden Rule 5: Soft play near D-day? No effing way.
Some pregnant Mums may find soft play a haven – a place to watch your first born run around happily while you sit sipping a decaf green tea. In my experience, my sobbing petrified child will only be coerced down the huge slide by Mummy. Not recommended…but then again that’s if you can even get up there in the first place, let alone back down. Big bumps are somewhat of a nuisance when it comes to crawling through tiny holes made out of rope and foam. Your precious cargo may not take too kindly to it either. Avoid it all together… go to the park.
That said, if it were a sunny day that is exactly where you’d be? Right? Yes…you and everyone else…If you want to avoid the masses, consider the next golden rule…
Golden Rule 6: Soft play on a rainy day? No effing way.
But where else do you go? Always a tricky one when your farm day gets rained off. But, so did every other buggers and you know where you’re going to find them…
Of course if you do brave it, remember it may be minus 3 outside, but always dress for the tropics. When your child reappears after 15 crazy minutes at Krazy Barn / Mad Kidz / Bananas zone they’ll be suffering from heat exhaustion and you’ll be stripping vests, t shirts, sweaters as quick as you can say ‘It’s hot in here’. As will you, when you climb up the floors of colourful plastic to the burning towers of
hell the top level at soft play.
All of these rules, are of course null and void if you are that parent, chilling over a coffee, reading a magazine, scrolling through your phone, reading this blog right now, or chatting with the friends you’ve met with. A little part of me hates you, although I do of course, long to be you. The truth is, I never will know what that feels like, because by the time my needy children are of an age they can go off unsupervised and play, they’ll be in school. Leaving soft play dates behind, unless we work around our new term time schedule. WILL WE HELL!
Golden Rule 7: Soft play in the school holiday? No effing way.
I did it once, by accident. It was a mistake. A big mistake that cost £12.60 and lasted 7 minutes. The head ache lasted 67 minutes. Never again.
So for now, I’ll embrace my term time, soft play dates, with friends. I’ll pay a premium for the full price days whilst clawing back money by sneaking in my own food in tupperware containers (and my tiny toddler, not in tupperware of course).
Ah, go on then.