Can anyone hack Soft Play?

So it’s raining, and my sister, Sausage, and her son Titch were at a loose end. Titch is 4, and starts school on Thursday. He is Ziggler’s favourite person in the whole wide world but it’s embarrassingly un-mutual. I’m waiting for the day Titch’s friends start fancying Ziggler and then he’ll realise how cool she is (not that I want them to be kissing cousins but… oh, y’know).

So the rain and the loose end led us all to Soft Play. Soft Play is something you have a glorious lack of awareness of until you are a parent. You play in it. It’s soft. Sounds ideal. What that description does not include is as follows:

The noise. The screeching; the keening; the over-stimulated cackling of 3000 or so small children.

The stink. Feet.

The furniture – plastic tables with plastic seats attached to the tables, in tidy capsules of eight as if each group consists of a quartet of identically proportioned children who only ever leave the table in an allotted order.

The food.  It is FORBIDDEN to take your own food.  It is FORBIDDEN for the soft play cafe to stock any kind of fresh fruit or vegetables, despite residing in a health centre.  They have a legal minimum oil content of roughly 80% for any one item.  Ziggler ended up eating a packet of Wotsits (with 25% extra free) and a bourbon biscuit for her lunch.  I am a terrible mother.

The other people.  Some of them are a bit what my grandmother would’ve called ‘common’.  I’m not brave enough to say more on the subject, frankly.

That your kid will not want to play at the soft play place.  Not independently anyway.  That lady sitting calmly absorbed in her book can just knob off as far as I’m concerned.  I ended up crouching in a low-roofed ball pool, lamely attempting to stop Pickle licking the germ-ridden globes while trying to coax ziggler down the slide we were at the bottom of.

I suppose it’s obvious that babies wouldn’t sleep at the soft play.  But they get the most stimulation of their lives – the highlight of Pickle’s day is usually the spin cycle – get exhausted, and screeeeeeeaaaaam.

I’m sure there are more.  Feel free to add your own.   To compound the misery, one of Titch’s school friends turned up and they went off to tackle the big slide together.  This left Ziggler heart-broken, abandoned and tripping on Wotsits.  I had a tiny flash forward of what her first drunken break-up might be like, and it wasn’t pretty.

As we left, I remarked to Sausage that I can’t hack soft play.  “nobody can hack soft play,’ she said sagely. ‘That’s the point’.

I think she meant it exists to make the rest of your life look better.


About vickola

Bad housewife.
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5 Responses to Can anyone hack Soft Play?

  1. This post made me laugh so much! I vary between loving soft play (somewhere four very boisterous boys can run off their energy without demolishing my beautiful house) and loathing it for all the reasons you listed. And then there’s the germs; that alone would be reason enough not to go to a soft play centre ever.

    • vickola says:

      Ugh, yes, the germs. I prefer not to think about those. If I had to go to soft play as often as having four boys would necessitate, I think I would be hanging the regulations and smuggling gin in. I’m in awe, frankly.

  2. Sara says:

    ‘tripping on Wotsits’ – love it! Soft play is a kind of fresh hell for parents. Once my daughter (during toilet training) wee-ed whilst traversing an overhead tunnel and it rained down on a passing worker. And that was a high point (no pun intended).
    You’ve captured the essence of our suffering very well in this post. I raise my glass to you!

  3. How right you are to everything! My husband and I have a deep loathing of these places and yet find ourselves in them fairly regularly as we have 2 young children and it always seems a good place for them to let off steam! You are not alone!!

  4. Pingback: A rookie mistake | thismothersday

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