Soft play hell


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Confession time.

I can’t stand soft play centres.

But, having four children means that they are pretty hard to avoid. And my four year old started school in September and it feels like she is being invited to soft play birthday parties every other week. Okay, maybe a slight exaggeration there but you know how it is. As soon as the little angels start school, they also start on the party circuit and the soft play party has to be the worst.

I just can’t stand the places. They smell of sweaty socks for starters. And I don’t even want to think about the germs that lurk in those places. We’ve all heard the tales of the time some over excited Fruit-Shooted-up-to-the-eyeballs child puked in there. Or worse. I’ve even heard tales of dirty nappies being fished out. Need I go on?

Why do they all play dodgy 90’s club music too? It feels so wrong to be listening to music that takes me back to distant memories of Blastaways and fake IDs. I was a classy teen. *cough* There really is something quite alarming to see your children play with Whigfield being blasted over the sound system or is it just me? It’s even more alarming when you find yourself tapping your toes or singing along…

The staff are always disinterested teenagers who don’t so much as crack a smile. Can’t blame them really being stuck in those hell holes but still, does make you wonder what they thought the job would entail when they applied for it!? The most coveted spot of course seems to be supervising the death slide. They sit there usually chipping off their nail varnish out of sheer boredom while the children slide their way to death. By death of course I mean the germ pit of a ball pool. See above.

Then comes the plastic food, whilst sitting on plastic chairs, drinking out of plastic cups. Followed by the blowing out of the candles and the handing out of the awful crap filled party bags. It’s all quite rubbish really, isn’t it? And they’re not cheap either!

Yet the children of course, have a ball. And I guess that’s what it’s all about. It is their birthday after all. But that doesn’t make them any more pleasant or am I just an awful mummy?!

I know for a fact that now that my four year old has been introduced to the wonders of soft play birthday parties, that in a couple of months time when she turns five, that’s what she will want too. I don’t think we can get away with a lovely family party at home this year. And just like her older siblings before her, I will no doubt give in. *fixes grin*

15 thoughts on “Soft play hell

  1. Twinny says:

    Wow twinny, if soft plays were like that I’d never go. You really should come to the ones where I live. They are brand new. Staff are fantastic. Great food. Go karts, animals. Honestly I’m going to do a reivew on one where I live including 4yo’s party You’ll be amazed. xx


  2. itsamumsworld says:

    Great post hun, I am so with you on this one! The only mummy related social engagement that I fear more is when you’ve arranged to meet up with someone, it’s the middle of winter and just because the sun is visible in the distance somewhere they suggest it’d be nice to go to the park, despite the freezing conditions, but because you’ve already committed to seeing them there’s nothing you can do to get out of it! At that point, give me stinky sock odour and tasteless coffee any day, at least then I have warmth and cafffeine! x


  3. Karen Jones says:

    We have an annual pass to a gorgeous country house/park place not far from us, it has acres of outside play and wooded climbing frames etc. It also has an indoor soft play area. Where do we spend most of our time, even on a glorious sunny day ? yep, in this smelly, dirty play area. WHAT is the attraction ?


  4. Moormummy says:

    *sobs* my little girl has been invited to her first party at a soft play centre, it’s a party for a two year old! I know it will be the first of many and I am dreading them for all the reasons listed above and the super competitive mums trying to out do each other. At least with this first one I know most of the mums are fine.


  5. Kat @ iRant iRave says:

    I think we’re lucky that our favourite local soft play is staffed by non teens and is regularly cleaned and looked after. It’s just the people who visit it that I can have a problem with.

    There’s the mums who sit nattering all day while their kids run riot hitting and screaming at the other kids. Then there’s the ones who complain that the toddlers are throwing balls at them trying to get the mums to play with them in the ball pool because of their babies despite there being a totally separate sensory room that is just for them. Then there’s the tutters passing judging on anyone who isn’t sat at their table.

    Strangely enough though my 3yo boy will take the park over soft play any day so I invested £15 in a set of base layers for him (and then another £15 for mine). Much cheaper than soft play all winter.


  6. Kizzy says:

    My mother-in-law is convinced these places are full of bugs and I am beginning to agree with her. Thank god most of my daughter’s parties have been in village halls with entertainers!


  7. jontybabe says:

    Loved this post! Can totally empathise with your feelings about these places. I hate them too! I hate the noise! I always come out with a headache and indigestion from the horrible food!!! eurgh. Hell on earth!


  8. Gavin Cruickshank says:

    I can’t recall ever going to a soft play party when I was young. They ought to make an adults-only version.

    That said, I did watch a lot of Fun House when I was growing up and wanted to something just like it.


  9. mummyinahurry says:

    I’m with you on this one. And the noise levels are way too high for my liking!! I am lucky to have 2 small soft play ‘cafes’ near me that are very small but entertaining enough for my children. I am much more a fan of layering up both myself and the little ones and going outdoors. I have fantastic waterproofs for them,which means they can get as muddy as they like. In fact, only this week, a friend and I took them to a bike track (muddy hills made by local kids) and they spent the afternoon sliding down mud ramps. I cannot even begin to tell you how muddy they got but they had so much fun, and were so tired they went to bed without protest!! Perfect!


  10. katie says:

    Soft play really can be dire. The latest craze on my son’s party circuit is a wacky warehouse celebration kicking off at 9am on a Sunday – we’ve had our weekends blighted by three of these and it’s wearing pretty thin. The kids LOVE it but the parents hang around bleary eyed trying to make awkward conversation above the din.
    However Soft play can be brilliant on a weekday during term time when it’s quiet. My toddler is very physical, and while it’s so cold and wet outside, soft play is our solace. Anything to wear him out!!!!


  11. jay says:

    Soft play centres make me want to die. Inside and out. I’ll avoid them like the plague, mostly because they ARE the plague.

    And that’s putting it incredibly nicely.


  12. Elena says:

    Great post (mostly) yummy mummy!! I have to say we have a great soft play place near us, which is a god send on those wet wet weekends. (Though you have to go first thing as by 3pm, they are hell!!) So I don’t hate them myself, but I love the (ir)rational hatreds that arise during mummydom 🙂


  13. Lis says:

    I’m so pleased other people hate soft play too. I hate the smell, the food and can’t stand watching my children being pushed and bullied off the things they are playing on by bigger kids. My husband on the other hand loves soft play so he now takes the 3 children whilst I have “me time”. Everyone happy!


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