Soft play is hell on earth, it is sticky and loud and full of the worst horror
‘other people’s children!’
Sometimes it is a necessary evil, particularly after 3 days at home with a restless toddler and a squalling baby when it’s been pissing rain. Soft play can be survived, but only by following certain rules which I am happy to share with you….
1. Be prepared. Mentally as well as sartorially. Psyching yourself up for the
sheer volume, scent and lurid colour scheme of the venue is a must. A bit
of outfit planning is essential too, make sure you have on socks as you
will be dragged in to play at some stage and no one wants to stand
barefoot on an unidentifiable puddle. High waisted jeans or some reliable
leggings are useful for saving you from flashing your greying granny
pants. Anything polyester is going to become a potential fire hazard on
the ginormous slide of death so best to avoid. Goes without saying that
any ‘nice’ items of clothing should be left in the safety of the wardrobe.
2. Take out a large bank loan. The cost of the entrance fee, average tasting
coffee, surprisingly delicious traybakes, jumbo jugs of weak diluting juice
and slightly soggy sandwiches is comparable to the GDP of Belgium but
your life will not be worth living if you don’t provide these nutritious
goods for your offspring. I once tried to offer some fruit that I had
brought in myself and was nearly taken prisoner and smothered in the
ball pool. Lesson learned.
3. Bring back up. To be in with half a chance at sipping a mouthful of that
overpriced lukewarm latte and a bite of cake you will need another
desperate mama to work in shifts with. One gets to herd the feral kids
while the other takes a well deserved 3 minute break. It isn’t a failsafe
plan but it gives you half a chance at least.
4. Try and maintain your calm. Personally I find it near impossible not to
lamp our local man-child ‘wee Tommy’ after he’s half trampled the
babies (in the UNDER 5’S section!!) and deliberately terrorised my son
whilst swigging from a can of Monster. It is frowned upon to beat the kids
up, so instead just loudly and passive-aggressively ask where his mother
is and throw him your best death glares.
5. More prep….your now entirely lord of the flies feral children will battle
you to the death to avoid leaving Soft Play. You will need bribes, and
6. Finally – know your limits! I know it might seem the better option but on a
hangover or particularly knackered day it just isn’t worth it. Stay home,
leave CBeebies on repeat and have a handy stash of snacks to throw at
them on a regular basis while you cling to your mobile and hide under a
I would also recommend having wine for when you get home to help wipe
the memory from your frazzled brain. Or gin. Or both.
Good luck fellow soft play adventurers!