10 things I hate about soft play – and why we are rushing back

Hey. It’s me, Tasha. How ARE you?! You may not remember me, it’s been a while. Like most of you I have been staying at home and self isolating where possible! I’m still going nowhere except my weekly outing to do the grocery shop. Fun times.

This, however, is about to change. It’s Moose’s birthday today and just when I was feeling super guilty about having absolutely sod all planned.. A Facebook post popped up informing me that a local indoor soft play place, Safari Adventure Play was about to re-open 2 days before my darling offspring celebrated his 6th journey round the sun. Admittedly over the course of my (thus far) 19 years as a parent, soft play has never been my favourite place to be.

boy in ball pit

Historically my biggest memories have been:

  • Sweaty kids
  • Other peoples kids vomit (never had the dubious pleasure of it being mine – thank God)
  • Other peoples kids being absolute dickbags
  • My kids being absolute dickbags
  • Stickiness. Play equipment, kids, tables, floors. Sticky is never a good sign is it!?
  • Having to be prepared to fight other bleary caffeine needing parents for somewhere to sit
  • ‘That smell’. You know, the one which is a bit of a cross between ageing rubber, old urine and feet and hits you like a train upon entry to soft play.
  • Absolutely disgusting and shockingly overpriced coffee. I was once charged £3.40 for a cup of straight-out-of-the-sachet Nescafe which bore an unsettling similarity to used washing up water. Rough.
  • The frayed nerves of nearly every single adult there – not just parents but grandparents, childminders and the usually bewildered teenage staff members found hiding behind the counter. We once arrived at a soft place just as a shirtless man came charging out offering to rearrange the face of a man who as it turns out was another Dad. Madness! But at soft play, all bets are off.
  • One particularly memorable woman who changed her toddler’s stinky nappy IN THE SOFT PLAY (and then, of course, left the dirty nappy there for the poor staff to deal with)

Nonetheless the news that soft play centres were once again going to be throwing open their doors has had me positively giddy with excitement!

Yes of course it’s great that pubs and restaurants are letting us in again but oh the pure joy of waving my darlings off while I sit and chit chat and enjoy hot cuppas. Ah bliss. Of course, right now we are still having to wear face coverings except when we are eating and drinking so expect me to drink. A lot.

Is it safe?

I have to admit that it did cross my mind that maybe during a pandemic is not the time to be visiting somewhere we all think of (in normal times) as a bit of a germ factory – but, hear me out!

Right now they are running at much lower capacity. The one I am off to with Moose today is limiting admittance to 40% and they are recommending booking online. That’s far fewer people to have to deal with. A good start. On top of that they are cleaning like their jobs depend on it – because, you know, they kinda do. If we want indoor soft play to stick around then we have to use them. It’s as simple as that. There is a daily clean anyway on top of them wiping down the high touch areas throughout the day AND some kind of super anti bac they are spritzing everything with which protects for longer than the usual cleaning stuff.

So these places are about as clean and safe as they are EVER going to be right now. As part of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme the lovely food and drink this particular place sells will be half price. It doesn’t mean you don’t have to quickly scoff your cake while your kid is busy in the ball pit. Sorry. No help for that.

Plus, in about 3 weeks time Moose is going to be going back to school. I don’t believe for a second that they will actually be able to socially distance a whole primary school effectively and this is a kid I had to tell off once for licking his mates shoes. HIS SHOES.

So, if anyone wants me between now and September there is a good chance that you will find me sipping tea and enjoying the air conditioning while Moose gets some much needed exercise and learns how to co-exist with children his own age before school starts again.

See you there?





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