Some of us love it, while some of us wouldn't dream of stepping foot in one.
It's hell in half-term and even worse when it's raining - what am I talking about?

There are many things I dislike, and soft play is the one that trumps all others. 
But it's not about me and my likes is it? It's what our little terrors love.

I was the most paranoid germ-freak when my he came along, meticously applying hand gel (half of these don't even bleedin' work) or carrying a pack of £1.80 (i.e rather pricey) Milton wipes that every other mum would spy and ask politely for one; thus gone in 60 seconds.

When he rolled and crawled early, I realised to get my daily peace (i.e his nap) I needed to get him to blow some steam. Which meant I had to get over my germ aversion and step inside one of the soft and squishy places FULL.OF.GERMS.

Something I never even knew existed, suddenly became a weekly tradition.

Ashlyn's Farm - Essex


There have been times I've glanced down at my tea or phone (more of this later) and then lost my child for the next 5 minutes in the tangled mess of arms and legs, tried to act cool and calm, then run frantically, inadvertently knocking kids out the way left, right and centre as I report it to one of the miserable looking 16-year old staff.
Then after calling the alarm, he pops out of nowhere and my heart stops jumping out of my chest.

Or there was the time in the under 4's area: yes, little shits READ: UNDER 4'S AREA ONLY.
Where I'd guess, a 7-year-old, decided to pull his pants down and start taking a poo in the baby sensory area. 

Not really sure how he confused a toilet with cushions. But a pure fail on the parenting part - (remember; toilets and potty's are generally used for poops kids). Myself and my equally germ-freak friend were absolutely aghast. Needless to say - I've not seen her in there since...

Staff were hollered, his red-faced mum charged in absolutely mortified (and heavily pregnant), then it was a witch hunt for the turd - clambering over nets which feel like razors on your sock-clad feet, armed with a disinfectant spray. While everything else came to a standstill. Great show, if anything.

Perhaps it crosses your mind to go to SP (soft play) when you have a teething child. 
Rambunctious activities generally help take out the anger. 

NB: If I could bounce off walls without hurting myself whilst in the midst of one of my spectacular highly strung bitch fits (Auntie Flo's visit, or T.O.T.M), I'd generally come out the better person. Instead of saying something I really should have refrained from - so I'm wholly with the concept of letting off some steam - Mother or baby.

However, mid teething, there has been the time the pup is just too distressed and point blank refuses to get out of the pram, or clambers onto you and attaches like a baby monkey. Pointless visit.

Or there's the scenario of him going off to play, getting a wave of pain, anger, 
some sort of fussy fit - then and gets stuck at the top of a slide. 

After thinking it's a figment of my imagination for the next five minutes, then recognising that all-too-familiar cry I then have to embarrassingly spear-tackle kids out the way to go up the slide the wrong way to rescue said howling child. 

Here's a guide to the DO'S & DON'TS of soft play if you find yourself in unforeseen circumstances...

1. Don't bother getting tea or coffee
a) you can't leave your child unless you have a tag team, (a few of you). 
One who can keep and eye, and one who can be chief tea purchaser.

b) It will inevitably go cold. Or get spilt over but yours, or one of the other 200 kids in the melee.

2. Avoid at all costs school holidays. If you have the bright idea of going, so will everyone else. 
This also applies to rainy days.

3. Take socks  - for you and baby. Don't wear flip flops. You don't want to be wearing barefeet in one of those hell holes and you'll get told off anyway for bare feet anyhow - I almost cried (read above) after being refused entry to the go carts because my footwear was unacceptable.

4. Take antibacterial gel for after - possibly tissues - lots of snotty oiks - all that palaver.

5. Always put your shoes back on before using the toilets- kids love to be independent don't they, and that includes tiddling next to the toilet. Or avoid cushioned areas in case a child hasn't learnt the concept of shitting in a loo.

6. Take your own food and risk the wrath of those in charge- most places have a strict no own food policy.  I'd still be inclined to take a bottle of water for you and your little cherub though. After all, soft play is a mental enough place without throwing in Slush Puppies and Fruit Shoot's into the equation.

7. Take spare socks- you'll probably end up with ground in fish fingers and crisps and goodness knows what else on your socks so maybe best to take a spare pair.

8. Paracetamol- yep, you'll probably end up with a splitting headache.

9. Drink coffee on the brisk walk/bus ride/before entry - then at least you'll have the caffeine-induced energy to chase said child.

10. Don't argue with any beefed-up testosterone dudes over their kids being in the under 4/5 areas doing cartwheels - it's never going to end up pretty - even if you are the: 'Body of a weak and feeble woman, but the heart and stomach of a man...'

11. Speaking from experience, have a wee before you leave the house. I mention wee's above, but unless you've got an older child - it ain't happening (unless you fancy losing them). With chasing your little one around, you're guaranteed to not get chance the whole time you're there.

Don't get me wrong, soft play is the perfect place to wear the little terrors out when the weather is too grim to be in the great outdoors, just go prepared and with an open mind!

Soft play centres - feel free to change our perception! 

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