Friday, 6 September 2019

The Ultimate Softplay Survival Guide


On a rainy day, with an empty schedule, you may find yourself wondering- should we take the little ones to the soft play? Even the name is suggestive of a warm, padded area in which a parent can set their little mite free to burn off energy in a lovely safe environment perfectly suited to them, while they enjoy a coffee and some peace.

It’s all a bloody lie. 

The truth about softplay is that it is a sticky, noisy battlefield that the inexperienced parent will leave in a hurry with the changing bag and child being dragged unceremoniously to the car, undoubtedly covered in someone else’s snot and tears. 

Want to survive? Keep reading. 

1. SOCKS
Socks are required for hygiene. Never assume this is an unnecessary rule, I guarantee the day you forget socks is the day someone steps in something disgusting underneath the ballpit balls. 

Of course, if you’re heading into softplay without prior planning, I can guarantee the only pair (or “close enough” pair) you can find will have a hole in, perfectly placed for a toe to pop out. Embrace it. Don’t let the tutty mums judge you and attempt to hide your feet under an infant- act like you MEANT to give that toe some air. Own it, and you’ll feel like you can do anything. 

2. THE BABY SECTION
If you’re interested in sitting around and watching your baby “try” to play by rolling near something vaguely resembling a padded slide, head to the baby section. Usually reserved for under 4’s, you can rest assured that they’re out of harms way for a while and finally have that hot cup of tea you’ve wanted for months. 

Until the “I don’t care” mums who are far too distracted by their phones and having a chat arrive along with a rambunctious and rather large child. Of course, no matter how close to adulthood that child is, they’re going to be clambering all over the baby section. If you glare and mumble loud enough, the child is usually embarrassed enough to leave and go to the (apparently) less appealing section for children their age. 

3. LIE
Of course, the best thing to do is lie. Don’t want to go? The soft play is closed. 

Don’t want to buy a snack or drink and you’ve been caught sneaking in 10p cartons of juice too many times to risk it again? The cafe section is closed. 

Don’t want to pay full child price for your newly turned one year old who hasn’t magically gained the ability to play like a big kid? Lie about their age for as long as possible!

As much as softplay does suck, and as hard as it is to survive at times, my children love it. They’ve just got to the magical stage where they bugger off and play alone for at least 15 minutes at a time and I trust they’re okay on quiet days. 

Even after the worst experience, something about being a parent makes you forget and you’ll be back- and now you’ll be ready.

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