Friday, 3 April 2015

Surviving Soft Play

Getting through a soft play session is all about mental preparation. You need to be prepared for the shit that is about to get real. 

Psych yourself up like you are going into battle. You are going into battle. And remember that whatever happens, it can't be as bad as another rainy afternoon in the bloody living room.*

Upon entering the building, your senses will be overloaded. The sights, the sounds, the smells. Kids will be charging around like monkeys on speed. You will initially feel like you are drowning in a sea of screaming Hello Kitty leggings and snotty noses, but after half an hour your eyes and ears will become quite accustomed to this annoying orchestra.

The whinging and the screams of 'joy' merge into a steady background hum, interjected only with panicked shouts of, ‘do you need a wee?’ and, ‘IF YOU CAN'T PLAY NICELY WE'LL GO HOME!’ (this threat is never upheld because you have still not asked your friend about the text from that bloke at work, or drunk your now tepid coffee, so despite your children hating each other they will enjoy this play date if it kills you). 

Your socks will be wet. Mostly this will be Robinsons fruit shoot residue and/or Aptamil Hungry Baby spillage, but you should know that at other times your socks will be soggy because you have stepped in piss. Or vomit. I was first on the scene at a Category One Soft Play emergency once, when a newly 'potty-trained' toddler shat on the slide. This could happen. Be strong.

Trips to soft-play centres will remind you why you largely dislike other people's children (and sometimes, if we're being honest, your own). Nothing is more infuriating than the bigger boys and girls who insist on hurtling through the baby area. It says Under 5s, you prick. 

Understand that the owners of soft play hell labyrinths need to make money. It is a business, not a safe-haven for mums who’ve lost the will to live in their living rooms. You will therefore be encouraged to buy overpriced paninis and jugs of weak squash. And boiling hot tea, which you will try not to spill on the feral children running between the Play Zone and Tumble Tot areas.


'Children must be supervised at all times' state the Rules of Play. Unfortunately, some parents can't read. Or they have misinterpreted supervision to mean letting another child's parent manage the situation, while they sit on a plastic chair generally not giving a fuck. It is not your job to keep lifting little Sammy over the squashy steps, or telling Bigger Boy Billy to stop elbowing everyone in the head. Do these people think you come here in the hope of taking charge of all the kids? You must glare at them and ask loudly 'where are your parents?' Everyone has to suffer. That's the rules. Having said that, I received one of my favourite ever comments when a mum of two slightly older children noted she had done her fair share of soft-play running around (after everybody’s children) when hers were little so had earned the right to kick back with a hot chocolate and Heat magazine. ‘I’ve served my time,’ she said. This gives me hope for the future.

Don't wear low rise jeans. You will end up crawling through the Mega Maze to collect your crying child with half your maternity knickers on show. 

It goes without saying that your children won't want to leave this noisy hell hole. There may be tears and/or protest planking in the ball pool. ALWAYS make sure you have backup unhealthy snack bribes to entice them back to the car. And wine in the fridge, obviously.

*If you go in half term, or with a hangover, it's much worse than an afternoon in the bloody living room. It's total carnage. Just stick Megamind on..

89 comments:

  1. I've told off kids for being in the toddler area and I'd do it again! My job is to look after my kid, not make sure other people's kids are doing the right thing. If it says between the ages of 0-4 keep your 7 year old out!

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    1. Quit complaining and get a grip. If I ever saw you telling my child off I would no doubt drag you outside!

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    2. If someone else has mustered the courage to tell your child off then it's blatantly obvious that you've neglected to observe your child bring a little brat that needs telling off. Get a grip yourself and keep your child out of an age restricted area.

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    3. I have also told other people's older children off for climbing up the slides when my daughter wants to go down.

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    4. I have got into two arguements with ignorant mothers who clearly were not watching their little darling (who were busy stamping on other smaller children or attempting to dig the eyes out of my child) ... I hate conflict but you can't just stand and watch something like this. Happy to see you outside chav mum

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    5. "Quit complaining and get a grip. If I ever saw you blah blah fucking blah"

      It's people like you that are the reason that our society has been in the gutter for too long. The don't give a shit attitude. The my kid does no wrong attitude. The I'll resort to violence if anyone crosses me attitude. Probably the sort of person who theatens teachers if they dare to discipline your little angel/shit.

      Try being a responsible parent and then no one's going to tell your kid off for you.

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    6. I told a 7 year old to stop jumping up and down on my 4 year old and was told by the kids dad that my son "Should man up"

      As for climbing up slides........ Don't get me started.

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    7. Oooh I'd see red at that Kevin. In fact I'd probably offer to jump up and down on him whilst repeatedly telling him to 'man up'! Wish me luck, we'll be attempting our first soft play visit with a 10 month old next week! Eeep!

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    8. I tell kids of all the time !! Like don't climb up the slide . Parents then say it's okay he can go up the slide then I reply sweet so u want your kid to get kicked in the head by kids coming down the slide . Also my kids autistic and I need to be by him 24/7 and I see so many little shits . I will tell them of

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    9. I talk to their parents and ask them nicely if they refuse and talk to me like crap ill get thw manager involved I like to see them het kicked out for clearly not following the rules thwy are there for a reason so people can play safety as the babies cant play in thw main area

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    10. I've lost count of the amount of times I've told off other people's children, I genuinely hate other people's offspring! I'll never understand where the attitude and cheek comes from, my girl and boy are nothing but nice and polite when there's strangers around because they know they will get no pudding after dinner if they are anything but nice

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    11. wow, I am stunned by the "quit complaining and get a grip" comment.....

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  2. Ha ha this is amazing! While stood in my kitchen eating poptarts (out of my toddlers sight) I still wonder if I'll make it to the soft play hell....maybe ine day. But today is not that day! Keep up your amazing blog :-) it brings a smile to my face! I can only think that if I had read it sooner then maybe I wouldn't have 2 children under the age of 2 right now, who drive me clinically insane with every passing hour. Though the continuous nappy changes and feeding dilemmas present themselves throughout, I couldn't imagine a day without my children :-)

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    1. Lol!! Clinically insane, this is definitely how I feel with 2 under 2 also! My first was a dream baby so when she was 6 months it seemed like a good idea to go straight for another one. My second is a very high needs, can't put him down, never sleeps reflux baby so now he's 6 months I'm exhausted! Lol some days go from bad to worse and jumping over the safety gates and the routine of nappies, bottles, sick, change clothes, Is relentless sometimes but like you couldn't imagine life without them and cute moments like them holding hands in their pushchair today make it all worthwhile 😊

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  3. Awesome.Glad I'm not the only one!!

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  4. Aaaaaargh! I still remember the hell that was soft play with my then undiagnosed autistic toddler. It brings on ptsd flashbacks just thinking about it. I think at one point I would have quite happily slapped everyone in there including the staff, it would prolly have been rather therapeutic...

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  5. The only think worse than thinking you've lost your child in soft play is the moment you see they are stuck/crying/being battered by/battering another child and you have to GO IN! Aaaaarghhhh!!!

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    1. Or being heavily pregnant and having to do this and getting stuck yourself in the two rolling barriers kids throw themselves through hahaha

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  6. I have such a love/hate feeling towards these places. I hate everything mentioned, the noise, the smell, the children.... But I love how a visit to one guarantees 1 tired 3 year old boy and an early night! Keep blogging, I love the feeling of normality it gives me xxx

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  7. I love this, it is so spot on. I encountered a whole new level of soft play misery yesterday when a member of staff approached me (I thought it was going to be to tell us off for bringing in our own healthy snacks) to tell me my child had bitten another child. He hadn't. Turned out it was a girl in a pink dress, not a boy in jeans and a blue t-shirt. Super bit of detective work there, soft play lady.

    Keep up the brilliant work, you're blog keeps me sane while on maternity leave looking after my two small boys. Can't wait for the book!

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  8. Husband has taken my 7 year old into soft play while I stay in the car with our sleeping 11 month old! Fingers crossed he sleeps until they come back out!! πŸ˜„

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  9. Laughed so much I wet myself!

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  10. Husband has taken my 7 year old into soft play while I wait in the car with our sleeping 11month old. I definitely got the better deal! Fingers crossed he stays asleep until they come back out! Bloody hate soft play.

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  11. Bang on accurate!! Especially the looking after other people's children part. They all sit there havin a drink, chat, goin out 4 a fag etc whilst youve ended up with 1 or 2 extra kiddiwinks! And yes THOSE parents do go 2 softplay so other people can look after their kids!

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  12. I hate soft plays with a passion. Hearing mothers of toddlers complain about everyone else's kids gets my back up. Careful what you say as you too will have older children one day who barge through the toddler area & butt heads with the other kids!

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    1. No, when my kids are older I will SUPERVISE them to make sure they don't injure any toddlers. Oh, and I might teach them about obeying rules and showing some consideration while I'm at it.

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    2. Erm, no I won't... When my kids are older I will actually supervise them to make sure they aren't rampaging around squashing toddlers. And while I'm at it I may teach them about respecting rules and showing some basic consideration for others too.

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    3. Hahaha :D Are you for real? You seriously arent going to know whats hit you when your child turns 6 or 7. We were all going to be perfect parents when our children were toddlers but trust me you'll look back on what you just said and realise how naive what you just said.

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    4. Chav mum number 2 ☝️
      Neither of my 6 and 8 year olds behave like that ... Why because I taught them to respect other and rules and generally not to be little shits

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    5. Manage to supervise my eight year old.... Not everybody else's fault you're lazy and can't be bothered to get up and play with your kids so they don't turn into attention seeking terrors...

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    6. Anonymous 9 April 12:46 - are YOU for real? Nobody's perfect but if you can't keep your 6 or 7 year old out of the baby area in soft play then something has gone seriously wrong. YOU are the parent - YOU are in charge.

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    7. My kids wouldn't have gone to one of those soft play places after the age of 5 anyway if i'd paid them in chocolate!! Took them a couple of times as toddlers and always ended in tears. My daughter hated that she would end up putting her hand in some other kids spilt drink or sticky sweet they'd dribbled out of their gob despite the signs saying food and drink shouldn't be taken into the play areas.

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    8. My eldest doesn't go rampaging through the toddler area, why? Erm because I tell him not to. Is it really that hard to expect your kids to respect your wishes and behave whilst out? Perhaps you should follow through on some punishments and praise the behaviour you expect! I don't know any 6 or 7 year olds that are incapable of understanding what they are and aren't allowed to do, whether they choose to respect those wishes or not is a parenting fail!

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    9. My 6 year old doesn't go in the toddler area because a) He can read and knows he is no longer under 5 and b) knows the rules! Nor does he climb slides the wrong way or throw balls, hurt others... It's not about thinking my son is a little angel, (believe me I know he can be a little shit!) It's about teaching him manners, respect as consideration!

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    10. Yeah, I got past the 6 and 7 years old bit too without my child being an inconsiderate asshole. Thats because they were taught some manners and because I supervised them.
      Makes me glad to be out of that part of my life.

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    11. Hope everyone that judged the mum with the unruly kids now has older children and are more understanding. Sometimes children don't listen and aren't respectful. Doesn't mean they have chav parents.

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    12. Hope the parents that judged the unruly kid have a bit more understanding now their kids are older. Sometimes kids don't listen, aren't respectful, doesn't mean their parents are chavs. You all probably made this parent feel crap. My husband was a nightmare and used to bite when he was younger. He had a registered childminder for a mother who is wonderful and she could do nothing to control him. Don't be so judgey guys. It's no good.

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    13. If my now 18 month old twins go rampaging through the toddler area when they're older, then they deserve to be told off and I have no issue with another parent telling them that if I'm not on hand to do it myself.

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  13. If I have to take my kids to soft play I have to go first thing in the morning and, for my own sanity, I will leave before it starts filling up and turning into the toddler version of Lord of the Flies.

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  14. I came across a mothers meeting in a bouncy castle this week.....they didn't take notice of my husbands 'for kids comment' nor my glares! Been in soft play today.....you are spot on with your post.

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  15. I agree with all the negative comments, but still think soft play is brilliant. I take my grandsons and wish wish wish such places existed when my two were small. What a boon on a wet day; somewhere warm, dry, safe, and you can buy food/snacks/drinks. Beats sitting outside a pub in the car everytime - kids weren't allowed inside and there were no play areas. Love the blog!

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  16. This is so accurate! .. Although admittedly I have let my 2 year old run around semi un-supervised when I've met up with friends and my other little one has needed to be fed (breast-fed) but friends look after each others kids, a lot of the time though I end up carrying around my son and still able to help my daughter (although I end up knackered in the process)... I also hate it when they tell you off for bringing in your own food instead of having their unhealthy stuff (not all soft plays but majority of them)

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  17. love it! always have to watch out for the sick / piss / shit / smelly sock / mouldy banana hidden in the ball pool, never a pleasant surprise

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  18. Great blog. If you're unfortunate enough to go to Riviera Bay hol Park in Devon the 'soft play ' area for under 5's is actually a cage fighting arena for 10 yr olds xx just a heads up

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  19. Soft Play is not "battle." When you have been in a real military conflict and seen friends mown down in a hail of gunfire then you will know what battle is.

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    1. She obvs was using it as a figure of speach! If someone says 'this means war' they don't mean it's actually war...

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    2. What a ridiculous comment. There is obviously no comparison between the two situations, and neither was one made by the unmummsymum. If you can't see the humour in the blog then don't read it!!

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    3. How ridiculous! Every persons battle is their own. Some worse than others and I'm sure the blogger doesn't mean a 'battle' in the literal sense. You have taken her words way out of context. You have an awful attitude!

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    4. After spending several years in the Army before now having 2 under 2's I quite agree it is a battle, one which you can't even fight back (and believe me when dealing with the likes of chav mum above I'd like to fight back) if you have been in the forces you should have developed enough of a sense of humour to be able to handle this blog, and the other idiots who leave negative comments to the amazing blogger should just stop reading it.

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    5. Love this 😊

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    6. That is the most ridiculous, out of context comment I have ever read. Bet your a barrel of laughs!!

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    7. And cue the ''you don't know the trouble I've seen'' comment from someone having 'Nam flash forwards... I have found though - just a fun little observation - that people who have genuinely and truly been through proper war situations absolutely never want to discuss it and rarely will weave it into any and every off-topic conversation, desperate, DESPERATE for attention. Weird.

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  20. If you do tread in something wet, don't smell your sock to check what it was. BIN THE SOCK!

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  21. Brilliant blog & so true! My children always manage to play just out of sight in soft play so I end up panicking that they've been stolen. Frantically screaming their names (which they ignore)& searching through tunnels on my knees in an unladylike way. NOT fun!!

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    1. Hahahaha, this could so be me!!! My husband thinks I'm nuts whenever we go. I know they can't get lost but still as soon as I lose the visual I panick. Not good for my stress levels and hardly a "relaxing day out witht the kids"

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  22. Do wear low cut jeans. It's the only thing that makes it bearable for the Dads.

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    1. Have to agree, sorry ladies, but whilst you're trying to coach down a fallen hero a glimmer of whale tail is enough to make the whole sordid event worth it.

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  23. people think their brats are all princes and princesses now anyway.Says if sll I think

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  24. I'm so glad I don't had kids.....just saying

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  25. 'It says under 5s, you prick' love it.

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  26. LOVE your blog haha your honesty is just like mine..hubby says I have an anger problem towards other people..meh..I disagreed then punched him in the arm. Other peoples kids DO MY HEAD IN. My kids go to a soft play facility for after school care..I dont go in...I wait at the door for them to come to ME...I just cant do it! Keep up the blogs..we live for them...makes all us sweary angry parents feel normal :D

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  27. Last time we went I ended up carrying an inconsolable stuck eight year old from the first level alll the way round the obstacled labyrinth whilst my friend's four year old helped my one year old round. I got a nod of "ahh thanks" from (presumably) her mum as she sauntered back off to her cup of tea. I had to ask a man to help at the cargo nets. The almost-adult then wanted to go round again! Pair of sods.

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  28. Makes you want to sign up to their 'Annual Pass' offer tee hee hee!

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  29. Just put my 3 yr old daughter in front of CBeebies so I can read your post again. Then I am going to go to the gym that I have just joined, as it allows small people into the swimming pool. For years I silently hated Those Mothers who brought their offspring to the gym pool. Now I have joined their ranks as I can't face the freezing cold paddling pool in the garden.

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  30. First time reading your blog (gone to bed early in the desperate hope of getting more then 3 hours sleep tonight before my evil munchkins wake up) and I am crying with laughter - thank you!!!

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  31. I laughed in painful recognition.. its good to know other minds think alike.. i always feel ripped off and have a stinking headache leaving these places! Not to mention the kids normally develop a bug after leaving..

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    1. Every. Single. Time!!!!!!!!!!

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  32. Just ......so true....and funny:)

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  33. It's all very well saying "I'll bring my children up to have respect and consideration" but believe me sometimes it isn't about the parenting but about the child. I have a 13 year old who behaved perfectly and never understood how others found it hard to control their children as if I told him to do something he would just do it. I now have a 2 year old who seriously doesn't think rules apply to him - he's big for his age, has no spacial awareness, is very quick so runs off and loses me all the time in soft play and hates going down slides but loves going up them. I I avoid soft play even though he loves it because I can't stand being judged by parents with their easygoing law- abiding children - next time they may get a different type of child too!

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    1. How about how about . You do not go up the slide you go down the slide . U will get hurt going up the slide bigger kids can hurt you when they come down the slide . If you do go up the slide we will leave . If he does the leave . They this a few times then he will get it trust me . But I'm guessing you will not listen to what i have to say and you will carry on in your ways .. But on a positive not he's 2 he will be difficult . My son was a nightmare at 3 but when he realised that I was not going to put up with his bad behaviour and left the park and soft play areas he learned

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  34. How about to a blog about annoying parents who let there kids rule them lol . Come sweetie we need to leave now . No I don't want to go . Okay 5 more minutes .....half hour later please we need to go . Fucking joke . I just say if you don't leave no you will never come back to the park again !! And you do like the park don't you so let's go now !!

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  35. I love reading your blog, so funny and so relatable. I have 2 year old twins and a four year old and really struggled to cope at times. I recently went to soft play with a friend and her daughter, she suggested soft play so the kids would be occupied and we would be ' free to catch up'. I agreed but remember thinking ' have you ever been to soft play?!' We went and as I had feared we spent all our time trying to keep track of my three and her one, we lost two at one point, cue frantic name calling out, drank our tea in relays and lots of unfinished conversations ' so how are you, how's....' half an hour and we were ready to leave! Your blog really lifts me up, keep them coming!

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  36. To the parents saying "if you told my child off I'd drag you outside" ...

    If I told your kid off, and you had an issue with that, I would gladly let you drag me outside - because God help you πŸ™ŒπŸ»

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  37. Took my son to play hell area for bonding time, saw an old friend and was trying to say hello whilst my unruly 2 year old was having full on leg kicking, fist flying blue faced paddy in my arms..... I said to her as you can see the bonding times going really well! We get on so well!

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  38. omg - the slide anecdote has me crying with laughter. love your blog - keep it coming and phooey to objects of your recent post that only want to read the gushing life is complete blogs :)

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  39. This had me crying with laughter, hilarious . Love reading your blogs πŸ’—

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  40. My partner calls it super fun happy world! Hes being sarcastic by the way lol. X

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  41. I used to work in one of these said "war zones" when I was 15 for £2.50 and hour (though this was 18yrs a go). And I must applaud this very accurate account! Parents with a spine and control were a god send when it all started to kick off in 6 areas and there was one of you roaming the soft play (as a specky 15yr old at the bottom of the totem pole this happened quite a lot!). Trying to stop kids jumping in the ball pool with whilst picking each puked covered slimey ball in the area that was chundered in. When the parents used to misbehave worse than the kids running up the slides and into kids that was def a time I wished the slide would buckle or an odd slip would of made my life easier. And don't even start me on the birthday parties!!! I still to this day have never ventured back into one of these "war zones" but dread the day my now 4 month old son will have to be taken (And I've been in the military for 14yrs!). Great post!

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  42. ARGH! Soft play hell. We were invited to a first birthday party at soft play on A SATURDAY! I don't think the mum had ever been before or had any clue what she was letting herself in for.

    My survival technique is to get in and out early, wear them out as quickly as possible and you can be home again by 11 to hand them over to dad/CBeebies.

    PS I have made the low rise jean mistake too, builders bum anyone

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  43. Maybe it helps to be young yourself?! I love soft play! Used to take my nanny kiddos there as a treat for both me and them lol! There were plenty of bratty kids and parents, granted, but having a wee one who needs hands on supervision by crawling around the tunnels and going down slides with her was my idea of fun, not hell πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ ...I realise this makes me sound totally nuts...!

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    1. If I thought my big bum would fit through some of the spaces, I'd go for it too! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

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  44. I adore this blog!! every single word you say resonates with me!!

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  45. It's the mums who sit around eating cheesy chips and the dads in ripped, paint covered jeans marauding through the ball pool in their builder's boots that really piss me of...

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  46. Absolutely crying here! It says under 5's you prick..... Been there, said that under my breath!:-)

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  47. Omg, some of the comments on here!πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ Some of you clearly need to keep an eye on your kids and teach your kids some manners and rules! My two (4+5 years) both love softplay and it is sometimes ruined by older kids barging and pushing. Don't get me wrong, mine can turn into Gitboy and Hellgirl in an instant, but if they do they get told! Only last week I saw Gitboy push a smaller boy out of the way, I was up on my feet, asked the the little boy if he was ok (he was) told mine that if I saw him do it one more time he was out of there, told him he was to say sorry to the little boy, and I then apologised to the smaller boys Mum. It's common decency and good manners. No one's kids are perfect but that doesn't mean you let them get away with unreasonable behaviour.

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