Soft Play: a Beta Mummy Utopia

Yes it’s true, I love soft play.  In a sort of hate it kind of way.  I love it because I can basically abandon my children in soft play (yes I’m that parent) and let them get on with it whilst I sit back safe in the knowledge that they’re unlikely to come to any serious harm.  It is called soft play after all – what could possibly go wrong?

My favourite soft play places are the ones with a decent cafe attached.  Regular readers will know that I’m rather fond of my tea and cake (although wouldn’t it be amazing if there was a bar attached, and all the mums and dads could sit around and drink wine whilst the little darlings amused themselves.  That, my friends, is utopia).  Anyhow, I digress.  My favourite soft play places have a good cafe, which sells a proper brew and nice homemade cakes.  Ideally there will also be comfy sofas, and the seating will be positioned such that there is a good view of the soft play area.  I prefer smaller soft plays where you have half a chance of seeing the kids flying past every once in a while.  The smaller ones also tend to have fewer of those giant children that stomp all over the little ones.

 

It’s a perfect business model, really:  knackered mum turns up with pumped-up over-energetic pre-schoolers.  She pays handsomely for the privilege of them burning off some of that energy in a safe, non-house-trashing way, and at the same time can sort herself out with caffeine and sugar.

Beta Mummy is relaxing in the soft play cafe enjoying a bad cup of tea whilst her feral children run amok in the play area. Total sensory overload but worth it for the low-effort parenting opportunity!

I don’t really understand the Alpha Mummies who follow their children around soft play.  I question their logic for going, if they’re not going to capitalise on the opportunity for chill out time!  But then again, I forgot – the Alpha Mummies like doing this sort of thing.  They actually enjoy squeezing themselves through tube slides and being buried in ball pits (shudder).

Alpha mummy is having a lovely time at soft play, joining in with her little ones and helping them climb etc. The soft play is a very expensive, wooden, montessori-inspired one, no primary colours or plastic in sight.

I’ve just had a hideous flashback to when I was approximately 9 months pregnant.  FC#1 was 21 months old and for some reason I thought it was a good idea to follow him into a soft play area….I got stuck.  I got very stuck.  Luckily I did eventually manage to free myself, but not until I’d thought through (in great detail) a rather disturbing scenario in which I had to live in soft play for several days/weeks, and give birth in there before my gargantuan belly would shrink enough for me to squeeze back out.  I even worked out which bits of soft play apparatus I could use to get in a good birthing position… God I’m f*cked up.

15 Comments

  • Mother of Many 31/10/2016 at 1:51 pm

    Of course, you missed the generation where these play areas WERE to be found in nearly every family pub going so there were very definitely bars attached! There were loads of them….. and I loved it! Wacky Warehouse, Brewers Fayre and many more!
    PS my eldest found a way to injure herself in a soft play area (macdonalds not a pub). She climbed the upright pole (clad on soft play material) holding up the entire structure ( imagine monkey climbing tree), then let go to allow herself to slide down the pole. Problem was the material was fixed to the pole with cable ties that had been cut short so each one cut her tummy beautifully!! My response of ” you shouldn’t have been up there” wasn’t echoed by macdonalds who gave us our food for free by way of an apology!
    She was dangerous then (still is now, rides a motorcycle, does pole vault and jumps off cliffs for fun!)

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    • Mum-Work-Repeat 02/11/2016 at 6:39 am

      Oh I remember those, sadly they were around pre me having children so used to avoid them like the plague. I’d be all of them now!

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  • Emma Island Living 365 31/10/2016 at 5:34 pm

    Ahh soft play. I am all for letting the little ones go and explore on their own. I tell myself that this is about them learning important skills for future life, it is not just me grabbing a coffee and a magazine *cough* They do tend to emerge from those ball pits like something from The Hunger Games though, hmmm, I probably should be following them around really.

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  • Mum-Work-Repeat 02/11/2016 at 6:42 am

    Ah the bitter sweet soft play, the ear piercing noise v’s the chance to sit down and take 5. We went to one last weekend with friends. It was perfect, the chance to actually hold a full conversation without interruption #bliss

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  • Nursery Whines 07/11/2016 at 9:28 pm

    I love the image of you stuck in softplay and giving birth there. Please do a Betamummy cartoon of that?! My daughter is just one and I am yet to brave soft play. I think I’ll like the ignore-child-while-consuming-coffee aspect, but I asked a friend with older kids to help induct me to the world of soft play and she told me a horror story about an older child kicking the strip light and shattering glass in the ball pool and told me to stay away from them! #Chucklemums

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  • Fran Back With a Bump 08/11/2016 at 7:38 am

    Love this and I totally have a love hate relationship with sift play. Our nearest is lovely but expensive and luckily the eldest can happily go and play. However I know it won’t be long before I have to go chasing after the small one! #chucklemums

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  • Clare Mumsy Midwife 08/11/2016 at 11:11 am

    Haha, I braved soft play for the first time last week with my 15 month old. She didn’t have a clue what to make of it all. I had to follow her to prevent her escaping. I’m so excited for when she can amuse herself and I can finally have a hot coffee! #chucklemums

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  • kristin mccarthy 08/11/2016 at 12:02 pm

    We recently went to a germy cesspool of soft play- it was HEAVEN! I am sure every kid will end up with some weird rash or disease buuuuuuut at least we had that day!

    #chucklemums

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  • daydreamer mum 08/11/2016 at 2:30 pm

    I’m such a grump, I think my parenting highlight so far was when the youngest deemed herself too old for soft play. I think this has a lot to do with the fact that not one of the soft play centres near me does a decent cuppa!! #chucklemums

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  • Jo Sandelson 08/11/2016 at 7:47 pm

    You’re quite right. Not worth it unless there’s a cafe attached. Who is it for anyway? Not the kids surely? Getting down with the toddlers is a humiliation I’ll never repeat. Nobody wants to see a grown woman ‘swimming’ in the coloured ball pit with unexplained brown bits on some of the balls. Luckily the supervisor stopped me from roaming about the plastic tunnels and up the nets before I made a complete fool of myself (blame the hormones) #chucklemums

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  • Turning Up In Devon 08/11/2016 at 8:19 pm

    Very much a LOL at Cafe only sells organic handmade by unicorns food, none of that beige shit! Love it. I err on the Beta side with letting my two run amok soft play stylee but I do draw the line at crap coffee and might try and sneak in a Coasta (devon based coffee chain!!!) #chucklemums

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  • Rhyming with Wine 08/11/2016 at 8:49 pm

    I once got stuck in what I can only describe as the “human car wash” bit. Our local soft play has an entire zone that can only be entered / escaped from via said torture device. Obviously my little fun-bombs head straight for it and then hurt themselves / get in a fight / lose a sock. Nightmare! Thanks for the giggle though. x #chucklemums

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  • The Kitschy Mumma 08/11/2016 at 10:26 pm

    My child won’t entertain softplay, she expects me to hike up the foam stairs that make my ankles feel like they’re going to dislocate and slide down the ridiculous tube slides before she does which in turn makes me look like a right dick while other parents drink shite coffee and watch on #chucklemums

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  • Mummy Rules 08/11/2016 at 11:19 pm

    I haven’t had a great experience of soft play so far. My toddler was always too scared to go in it (and who could blame her) so I spent most of the sessions going in with her to try to build her confidence so that I could then sneak back to my table when she was not looking to sip my dishwater tea in a paper cup. The last time we went was different. She had confidence. Lots of it. So much so that she kept running to the top of the soft play ‘tower’ and yelling/screaming “mummy!!!!” so that i was forced to rescue her and got lost amongst all the other levels. When I finally reached the goddamn top, she took one look at me, laughed manically and disappeared into a soft play hole to a level I couldn’t reach. We haven’t gone again. #chucklemums

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  • and another ten things 09/11/2016 at 1:41 pm

    Yep, I love a good soft play tea and cake. Although sometimes my daughter makes me go through with ehr and then abandons me somewhere so I have to navigate myself back down, usually via a slide on my own like a giant woman-child. #chucklemums

    Reply

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