So on Friday me & the boy ventured into unchartered territory: namely Soft Play. I’d arranged to see my lovely friend Kelly & her adorable son Ashton a little while ago & this week she suggested this as a play date idea. She’d recently been there herself, so thought it would be a great way for the boys to get to know each other; let off some steam & briefly save our lounges from the usual carnage as an added bonus. Initially I was quite excited at going, it would be a brand new experience for both of us, & a safe place for my little commando crawler to explore. I’d even ‘bigged it up’ to him that morning whilst I was getting him dressed…hmmm, hindsight is a wonderful thing hey. I’d built it up in my mind that it wouldn’t be as bad as feared or had read about, (www.theunmumsymum.co.uk/surviving-soft-play.html) after all it was a weekday in term time & we were getting there as soon as it opened, so should be calm, in theory.
We arrived, negotiated the ridiculously heavy entrance door, I was juggling Benjamin, my handbag & his extensive bag of: spare clothes, finger foods, bottles, nappies, wipes, coat, gloves(?!), monkey & muzzie, you know, all the essentials! Kelly was much more prepared than me, with her compact buggy that carried everything she needed. I’m such a rookie still it seems. We duly paid our £1.50 as an ‘accompanying adult fee’ (I think it’s odd that the babies are free & yet they’re seemingly getting the most benefit from the whole ‘experience’?!) We tracked down a table to ‘camp out’ on, piling everything high up so we could actually keep an eye on our belongings whilst sat in the murky depths of the ball pool. We placed the boys on the café floor, whilst we cast aside our shoes. All of a sudden there was a shriek & a stray ball came flying out & ricocheted off of Benjamin’s head, but luckily he didn’t really realise what had happened, I should have taken it as a sign right then. I was horrified to discover how we had to enter; literally had to climb over a huge plastic block, into a mini ball pool & over another massive block to get to another completely plastic-covered ‘flat’ area all whilst carrying over a stone of wriggly, excited baby. Seriously I felt like I was on “It’s a Knockout” all whilst wearing slippery tights & a leopard print shirtdress. Even in mummahood I’ll never learn to dress appropriately it seems. We put the boys in the biggest space & hoped for the best. Benjamin didn’t quite know what he was supposed to do; there was nothing in the space except more plastic cubes & he found himself sliding all over the show, just as his Mumma had to get into this surreal slippery soft play circle of hell. Imagine a slightly chubby Bambi on ice if you will, well for both of us really when I think back to it! We enjoyed this space for a few minutes before some preschoolers entered & our hearts sank. It seems that the etiquette for older children is for their parents to abandon them upon entry, allow them to free-range it until an accident occurs, or another parent has to step in to ‘break things up’ & then they have to reluctantly intervene. Kelly & I ended up forming a human shield around our babies – creating a force field to fend off rogue children & plastic cubes being launched from every direction. Even one of the members of staff came over & told us that we could tell older children to move to another area if they became too boisterous. After a few stern looks, trying to locate the offender’s parent, we then decided to relocate to the comparative ‘safety’ of one of the mini ball pits. The boys were so good & patient & I love the photo below of the two of them sharing a moment amongst the chaos together. I on the other hand was trying not to think of all the bodily fluids that have probably passed over said balls & praying I didn’t find any ‘presents’ with my practically bare feet. We lasted for a whole nineteen minutes in this multi-coloured, wipe clean, seizure-inducing war zone. The boys needed food & we needed our sanity back. We crossed the one-way gated threshold, after deciding that we definitely wouldn’t be going back in & retreated to the baby swings outside in the adjacent park. Fresh air, perfect.
I’m glad we went. I think. It was just as I thought it would be, but I was genuinely disappointed that we didn’t get a badge of honour when leaving, something along the lines of “we survived soft play”. Go us! We might go back, I mean it was the best that Jamin has ‘day slept’ in a long time (probably all the adrenalin running through him?!) Then maybe next time we can be the Mummas who get to enjoy a leisurely coffee; all while our little darlings cause the chaos, well maybe.