Softplay: A day out with smiles, at least one health and safety hazard (at your own risk, of course). Your kids will want ‘brown food’ that they will leave, and some kind of altercation with an overly boisterous child.
We are not week in week outers at soft play but I’d say we probably go enough according to the rain:coffee ratio.
The soft play centres by our house are pretty good as they go, so it’s not as horrendous as it could be.
I’ve been to enough of then to spot common factors though.
This is how your trip will go
- Location – You will question the reliability of your sat nav when trying to find the soft play. If you are heading towards the arse end of an industrial estate, just keep going – it will be the very last possible unit in a dead end.
- The notice – On arrival, there’s a good chance you’ll see a sign to tell you that it’s either shut or shutting soon for a ‘private party’. Yay.
- The entrance – You’ll be greeted by the world’s smallest foyer, separated by a tiny gate. Thou shall not cross the line until you’ve paid to enter, although your toddler will be do their very best to try.
- The truth – You’ll be faced with a dilemma; can you fake their age? No matter how hard you try though, your little darling will proudly boast their age for all to hear.
- It’s not busy – You enter and think to yourself ‘oooh it’s nice and quiet here’, then realise it’s still during school hours. Must make sure that you leave before 3.30pm.
- Hunger – You realise both you and your child are starving. It’s either too early for lunch so biscuits are on the menu, or you’re stuck in a queue because everyone else is hungry too.
- Menu choices – Unfortunately you’re going to be forced to eat something that’s either not on your diet, covered in cheese, or is just chips.
- Toilet time – Your child meanwhile wants a wee as soon as you get a hot drink.
It’s not all soft
You’ll be misled by the name; not everything is ‘soft’ and your child will find the only bit of hard (and bump their head on it).
- Trust – It somehow feels ok to leave your belongings unsupervised while you take them to the toilet.
- No trust – You desperately try to speed up the toilet trip because you’re so worried that someone will steal your bag.
- Panic over – Nobody stole your bag.
- Food – Once back from the toilets, your food arrives. Your child won’t be interested in the meal you bought for them. Instead they want your panini. So you’re forced to with their chips. Shame.
- Your turn – Your child will eat something and then immediately spot a really high bit that they can’t physically get to alone. You have to go up too, so your lunch will have to wait.
- Toilet panic – Once you contort yourself to the top, your child will tell you they need another wee.
- Crying – They go off to play a bit more, and then you hear crying. It’s coming from a bigger child who is pushing or pulling hair.
- School’s out – You realise there are actually quite a few bigger kids, why? Oh shish! It’s after 3.30pm; school’s out!
- Time to go – To drag them out, you’ll have to negotiate your way out of spending a pound on some kind of tat. Maybe a toy dispenser or one of those train/bus/rocket things that just moves back and forth for 30 seconds.
- The ‘movey’ thing – If you reluctantly invested £1 in the machine, your child will either start to cry and/or get out so that another child can get in and enjoy the ride (freeloader).
- The toy dispenser – If you opted for the toy machine, they will lose their toy before you’ve left the building.
You hit all of the school run traffic so your child will fall asleep in the car, at 4.30pm. You’re going to need to change your plans for the evening because that little live wire won’t want to go to bed on time!
What else would you add to a typical trip to soft play?