Normally if I have a weekend off we’ll go somewhere National Trusty and be one of those annoying cultured families who always wake up fresh as a daisy at 6am on a Sunday and go for walks in the countryside. This weekend however, my husband was in work so me and Cora were flying solo. I decided to take her to a soft play centre. It was a baptism of fire.
- As I arrived, another mum was leaving. You could tell by her eyes that she’d seen some shit. She may have been suffering from PTSD. She mouthed at me, “Don’t do it.” True story.
- It’s chocka. I mean like Saturday in Primark chocka. This is an enjoyable time for the kids and for the kids only, you will be stressed to fuck. Prepare accordingly.
- Pack light. They don’t have lockers and if you have a toddler you’ll be going on the play area with them, possibly for the first time since you passed the maximum height restriction for the Wacky Warehouse ball pool when you were eight. I had a backpack, a picnic bag, a changing bag and a wriggly toddler so going all the way back to the car to rethink my ‘stuff’ strategy wasn’t really an option. The changing bag and picnic got left on the table and the backpack came with me on the soft play centre toddler maze. To be honest it did provide an extra level of challenge to squeezing through the tunnels and foam rollers, especially when I was trying to keep up with a speedy 20-month-old professional crawler.
- Your kid will only be interested in doing what they’re not supposed to be doing. The actual kitchen with all the hot ovens and waitresses coming and going? That looks interesting mum! Oooo the massive trampolines full of massive 12 year olds? I WANT TO GO TO THERE! Going down the slide? Pfft that’s for peasants, I only go up them hun.
- Don’t bother trying to head your kid off at the pass by taking a shortcut through the climbing maze that’s a bit easier for your fat arse adult frame to navigate. In the blink of an eye they’ll have turned round and gone back the other way and found themselves, rather impressively, in the only possible position in a soft play centre where they could actually kill themselves.
- You will be sweating your tits off after 10 minutes. Dress accordingly.
- The toddler area is for ages three and under but if you think kids over three (or their parents) are the slightest bit arsed by that then HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Yeh sure, bigger kids have the entire rest of the warehouse to play in with much more interesting and challenging apparatus than a mini slide but they naturally want to gravitate to any area that will allow them to kick babies in the face. Their parents actually seem to encourage this. I swear to god, if any sweaty, octopus limbed 7 year old gets within an inch of Cora’s face again I’ll be offering their da a straightener outside. I really felt like Monica – WE CAN ALL HAVE MORE FUN WHEN PLAYING IF WE STICK TO THE RULES!
- If there’s anything that costs more money, your kid will want to do it. A 30ft by 20ft maze full of slides, trampolines and other obstacles? Yeh mum that’s fine for 10 minutes but get your purse out because I’ll happily spend 3 hours on this Peppa Pig ride that does fuck all other than rock back and forth slightly.
- Other kids will climb on and hijack your kids Peppa Pig ride and their parents are nowhere to be seen. Probably hiding.
- You will end up telling your kid that the Peppa Pig ride is broken and ‘all gone’ and quickly try and usher them away before the next kid’s parent sticks their quid in for a minutes peace.
- There will be absolute ructions when it’s time to go home. Cora was that fuming as I carried her out that she grabbed a bunch of my hair and bit it with pure rage. Like, imagine being that angry that you think, “Yano what can go fuck itself? Your hair mum. Fuck your hair, I am furious.”
- You’d do it all again anytime just to see the delight on their little face.
So if you ever end up taking your kid to a soft play centre, you have been warned. Enjoy!