Hell does exist…it’s called soft play

Tiny Terrorz. Scallywags. Happy Hooligans. The names hardly fill you with confidence. I don’t believe in heaven and hell, but I’m pretty sure if there is a hell, it looks very much like a soft play centre on a Saturday.

Hell Does Exist....It's Called Soft Play |www.parenthoodhighsandlows.com

We visit these places once in a while. It’s usually a few months in between visits as we need time to recover, both mentally and physically. We usually go when it has rained for days on end, stupidly thinking it will be a good chance for the kids to expel some energy. The problem is that every other parent seems to have the same wonderful idea. If you’ve never experienced the pleasure of soft play, here is what you can expect in your average visit:

You walk through the door and hand over an extortionate amount of money to a surly and hungover looking teenager who grunts something incomprehensible (I *think* they tell you to sign your name, but never quite made it out). The gate closes behind you and you find yourself in hell.

These places are either so hot that you feel like you are about to pass out, or so cold that hypothermia becomes a reality. Our local one is usually freezing unless it’s a heatwave. Then they turn the heating up full blast. To compete with the noise of shrieking kids, there is usually speakers blaring out some cheesy pop music.

In order to avoid frostbite, you pay the best part of two or three quid for a cup of lukewarm liquid that is advertised as a latte. The kids have the choice of fruit shoots or fizzy pop. Sugar hyped kids at a soft play centre? Perfect!

The kids disappear off into the play areas. You’ll have approximately three minutes to enjoy your cup of mud coffee before you recognise the shouting of your own kids above the noise of a million others. “Muuuuuuuuuum!”. You look up to the very top tier of the equipment where they’re wedged with their foot in netting or something.

You scramble up the tiny gaps and through tunnels designed for small children, not slightly overweight nearly 30 year olds, dodging toddlers on the way. You get to the top to find your little sweetheart has unstuck himself and is at the bottom. Two choices are ahead. You can either climb back down and risk getting your arse stuck in a tunnel, or go down the slide into the germ ball pit and risk looking like a prat. Slide wins every time.

This brings me to the most horrific part of soft play – the ball pit. I’m not germophobic in the slightest, but the thought of the various bodily fluids lurking amongst the balls makes me cringe. Recently potty trained toddlers, children not wearing socks (verucca anyone?) and countless kids with a river of snot from their nose all mixed with thousands of plastic balls? Lovely!

Have you got any horror stories?

20 thoughts on “Hell does exist…it’s called soft play

  1. I agree with all of the above but my main gripe is that most parents think that because it’s called “soft play” that they can let their kids run riot and not pay any attention to them at all, thus resulting in the bigger kids pushing the smaller children around. Last time we went a day care had decided to take all their children there for the day too – so there was about 3 people “looking after” about 30 kids, they basically sat there reading magazines all evening whilst the kids took over. Never again, even if it’s raining and we’re bored I’d rather stick some wellies on and go splaashing in puddles than endure the hell that is soft play.

  2. We don’t really do soft play, I would much rather put on wellies and a rain coat and go for a walk in the woods. It can be difficult to entertain little ones, especially in the winter but if all else fails there is a farm near to us that has some animals in a warm barn and that can occupy us for at least an hour!

  3. haha soft play is a nightmare for me, Ii love the fact they can run their enrgy off and i just have to wait for them to come back every five minutes saying ouch or she /he said this and that , but i really cant handle the smells and the noise no more lol x

  4. LOL they really are a nightmare aren’t they! Why do kids love it so much?! My son got kicked out of the one at Butlins recently as a child had thrown up in there. I dread to think what things are lurking in the corners and ball pits!

  5. Oh my gosh this has had me in fits of giggles because its so true!! I mean really ive brought my child to a softplay to get rid of some of their energy not to fuel it further with fruit shoots and fizzy drinks that they ALWAYS have on offer and in plain sight of the children lol!
    Totally sympathise with the whole hearing your own child screaming over EVERY other child lol! Its usually my accident prone son who has gone down the slide face first legs either side of his face and is now crying because hes managed to graze his chin and cant understand why! lol


  6. Oh crumbs. I’m not trying to wish their lives away but I’m really enjoying the fact that visits to soft play are getting rarer as mine get older! I know the kids love them but it just feels like an overpriced wall of sound to me, ha!

  7. Ewwww!!! Does indeed sound like hell! I have never taken my kids to these kind of places unless it involved a birthday party! HATE them with a passion!

  8. We only go to these places if the girls have been invited to a party or there’s a free one when we go on holiday. It’s not my favourite way to spend an afternoon, I have to be honest!

  9. I find that everytime i go, there is always that bully kid who is like 8 and they should be in school and they just charge into the smaller ones whilst their parents chat on their phones. GRR

  10. ha!! we only go to soft play in the term time when most kids are at school {one of the perks of home schooling!}- it is hell otherwise!

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