Why soft play is the worst – but we’ll definitely be back

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I’ve read a lot of blog posts about soft play, and they’re never about how someone took their kids to soft play and it was a really positive, stimulating experience and everyone left happy. They’re always about how soft play is like a squishy hell full of screaming toddlers, broken toys and filthy ball pits.

This did not stop me from taking the Popple to soft play this week.

At 9 months old, the Popple is too young for the main soft play area, but this place said that it had a separate space for under 3s. Plus the weather was sh**ty, plus if I had to spend another afternoon following the cat around the flat, I was going to lose my mind.

(The only thing the Popple wants to do these days is toddle around after my cat Milo – and since she can’t walk on her own yet, we both spend hours trailing Milo as he moves from the living room to the hallway to the bedroom and back again, in a desperate attempt to shake off this little person who REALLY wants to pull his tail.)

I probably shouldn’t have been surprised that, in many ways, soft play lived up to its reputation as a germ-laden inferno in primary colours. The play frames were held together with duct tape, the baby and toddler area was full of rowdy school-age children, and none of the walkers or toys that were meant to light up or make sounds had any batteries.

And the Popple loved it.

She wasn’t bothered by the grime or the mothers who were letting their kids go apesh**. (Not to judge, but…could you maybe just pretend to care that your hyper 5-year-old just threw a walker into the baby ball pit?) All she saw was a big room full of REALLY COOL STUFF. She pushed those battery-less walkers around with a giant smile on her face. She stood outside the play frame area and watched the older kids horse around. She slapped the plastic chairs in the cafe, because those were really interesting, apparently.

This is why babies are great. They don’t see the crap. Everything, even a sticky chair, is just another new thing that’s begging to be explored.

12 Replies to “Why soft play is the worst – but we’ll definitely be back”

  1. I Have been to so many soft play areas now, Lily is 15 months old. Some are so good, really good quality equipment and you can tell they take care of there play areas, and some are just terrible and gross and I cringe that im walking on the floors with no shoes on. Have you experienced parent Rage at soft play yet? Thats the next thing that will get on your nerves about them!

  2. I haven’t experienced the parent rage yet – but I plan to take the Popple back to soft play this week, so I’m fully prepared it!

  3. I love soft play! I chuck him in, and bog off for a coffee and a read. He only occasionally launches things into the baby ball pit…*
    #KCAKOLS
    *he never does this, promise.

  4. Tracey @ One Frazzled Mum says: Reply

    I hate soft play with a passion thank god my daughter is too old for them now but I go with my sister and her nearly 3 year old who literally tears around like one of the older kids. The worst thing for me is that it’s like the parents think soft play means no rules or reprimands and all you want to do is scream at them and the kids too! #KCACOLS

  5. I love taking my girls to the playcentre! I would never stop taking them either unless they didn’t want to go themselves. This is a great post.
    #KCACOLS

  6. Cute post and true. My son is at the age where he wants to explore it all but isn’t quite big enough so needs help, meaning I am in hell crawling around said soft play. #KCACOLS

  7. I’ve never been to a soft play centre as little one is too young at the moment, but not far off. I’m quite looking forward to going to tire her out, and so that she other things to play with/on. Babies really don’t care about the stickyness, why they like being covered in food I will never know. I will be going armed with wipes. Claire x #KCACOLS

  8. Becky, Cuddle Fairy says: Reply

    We love indoor play centers. The kids play & I have a coffee & tweet lol There are often mishaps with other kids whose parents have their backs turned. But we still go back. It’s a nice break from the house on a rainy day or over school holidays. #KCACOLS

  9. We’ve got a really nice soft play near us. No duct tape and, even better almost no kids. So few that last time a big boy took my tot round and I was left to daydream at the bottom of the slide. Bliss.
    #fartglitter

  10. Soft play is a love/hate place. But definitely somewhere to avoid in the holidays! Thanks for linking up to #justanotherlinky xx

  11. Ahhh softplay. I have such a love hate relationship with it. When I had my eldest we went loads with my NCT friends. Then I had my youngest and it was hard to manage taking a toddler and an active baby together so I stopped going. Now though at 3 and 5 it’s great because they both happily go off and play together meaning I can enjoy my tea and cake in peace!

    What I really hate at softplay is when parents think it’s ok not to keep an eye on their kids and are oblivious to their naughty behaviour (like launching walkers into ball pits!)

    Thank you for linking up to #KCACOLS and I hope to see you back again on Sunday

  12. So erm I know this is a loooooong way off for you but if it’s any consolation, once they get to Middle school, parenting problems are even worse 🙂 #fartglitter

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