I love my children in a cage. A huge sweaty, multi-level, ball-pit filled cage.
Softplay – A mothering high. Waving from a safe distance, sugary tea in hand watching the fruit of your womb hoon about sweating, jumping and grimacing their way round a stinky inflated, netted palace of plastic.
Soft play Oxford dictionary definition:
- A complete and utter headf*ck
- An exhausted rainy day parent’s saviour
Attributes: Faint odour of urine/vomit/foist usually present.
No parent actually wakes up and thinks “I really fancy a visit to Cheeky Chimps today” (or Jumping Jacks, or Jupiter Joe’s or Piglets or Mini Me’s). This ‘choice’ usually follows a day of grim weather and ratty behaviour. Eventually, we switch the TV off/take them off Time Out/stop them mid house destruction and seethe “right let’s go to Mini Me’s”. “Yay”!
Golden rule: always call ahead to check they’re open and have space for you. There is nothing worse than a toddler/mum duo tantrum in the rain on the doorstep of an over-full soft play. The rejection and fear (of what you’re going to do next) are unbearable for all involved. I’m ashamed to admit I nearly became ranty angry mum at the poor staff at Ragamuffins once. And I have absolutely switched into Estate-Agent-closing-a-deal mode to blag us in – “Oh please, can’t you just squeeze one more in? We don’t need a seat or a table, or any oxygen, not one flush of your skanky toilet, ok we will buy all your Innocent Smoothies”.
You’ve done it. You’ve made it in to “Sweaty Crack Shouty Sam’s” – grab yourself a loyalty star (it’ll cost you £6.50)! Sit yourself down (you may want to give the plastic seat a wipe), get yourself a brew and a Twix (that’ll be £4 please) and speed reply to 4 texts you’ve missed over the last two weeks. You might even squeeze in a fleeting glimpse of Facebook and send an ironic tweet before “I need a poo”, “that boy pulled my hair” or worst of all “is that your son?”
The rules for entering a softplay are very similar to those for entering TK Maxx:
- Do not go in on a hangover
- Go prepared for chaos, trauma and frustration all on the promise of that gem … a golden moment (of peace)
- Try to go with a friend, to help you keep your sh1t together
- Go in planning to spend a tiny amount, leave having spent a fortune (on Pom Bears, Minion biscuits, un-eaten sarnies and juice because the kid next to them had some)
- Sharpen your elbows (you have to run for a table and chairs as though your life depended on it)
- Be wise in the arts of placation and negotiation (if your kid shoved theirs down a slide backwards and the other mum saw it, you need to oil and schmooze big time)
- A biccie and cuppa
- A few caught up text replies
- Kids running their crazies off
- You feeling like a good mum for taking them somewhere they love (and only having to wave a few times, if you’re lucky)
- You never know who you’re going to bump into, you may leave with a new friend
Soft play, oh you skanky marvellous beast. My frenemy. When oh when will my friend launch her new business concept: ‘Soft play and Sauvignon’? Let’s crowd fund.