Sunday 6 November 2016

Soft play survival kit

"I gotta get through this, I gotta get through this, I gotta make it, gonna make, gonna make it through"
Daniel Bedingfield

Soft play - the two words that send shivers down my spine, it's also a lie, what's soft about that brutal environment? The thought of spending a few hours in a germ infested, screech fest really doesn't appeal, but remember your doing it for the kids because they love it. They have tantrums, fall outs, accidents - yep they LOVE it. You want to shout "FFS I'm doing this for YOUR benefit! you better enjoy yourself or at least look like you are otherwise we are never coming back" Yet you always go back.

So for the next time that you do go back, I have put together a survival kit to get through this torturous occasion. But first, let's delve into what I really dislike about SP, just to really set the scene and to give my kit justification.


Yep the number one fear, what disease is coming home with us this time. The continuous struggle to keep the kids hands away from their mouths is almost impossible, especially when you are on your own with a one year old and a 2 1/2-year-old (am I crazy) just try and continuously lunge across a ball pool to stop a previously flobbed on ball being touched, its hard work. Runny noses, leaky nappies and coughing are just a few of the methods used to distribute bacteria, you witness it all yet its out of your control.

Other people's kids

What's almost as bad as the germs? in second place, other people's kids. Other people's kids that don't seem to have anyone with them, did they just rock up on their own? They want to join in your ball throwing game, which you hardly want to do with your own child let alone a stray child. What's worse is when they try to talk to you, my solution? speak in another language, pretend to speak French or something, they soon get bored and sod off.

Bad for your health

Bring a small bottle of gin with you, there's no signs to say that you can't and even if there were people wouldn't read them - a bit like the signs that say parents must supervise. Or when 12 year old Jimmy refuses to acknowledge the "babies only" sign in the under 2 area, but to be fair he probably can't read. Once you have necked your gin, chuck the bottle in the ball pool, no one will know it's there, it will float amongst the sea of other debris lurking under the balls. So not only can you catch a disease but it also drives you to drink, children throw themselves around plus there's all sorts of hazards amongst the balls.

*Alternatively you can try mini cocktails as pictured - my recommendation is stay away from small bottles of prosecco - the pop gives the game away

Wheres the staff?

Where are they all? oh yer they are where the moneys at - the front door and in the cafe, sod the rest of the place, it can go to hell. What about the 20 kids on the trampoline designed for 10? ah fuck 'em, we've got an accident book. Although I can sympathise, if I worked at a soft play centre I too would hide in the cafe.

The happy lot

What about the group of women sat around a table enjoying a coffee? their children are either playing nicely on their own a stone's throw away or sat gently nibbling away at a healthy snack? Actors, employed by the soft play centre to create a "we are happy and relaxed" vibe. I thought about it a lot and my conclusion is that it must be an inside job. It simply must. You never see this lot on their hands and knees crawling through a tunnel, they probably said "we don't get paid enough to do that"

So what's in the kit?

Hand gel & antibac wipes - Last time I went I forgot to bring them. Rummaging in my bag with one hand and pinning down my toddler in the other, I needed to find the gel before she clawed at her bag of quavers. It wasn't there. The struggle was real, I started to hyperventilate at the thought of going gel-less. I had lost my battle and it was simply too late, her hand was in the bag fondling away at her cheesy snack. The thought of trying to get her, a baby, a double pushchair and a wheelbarrow full of belongings into the toilet to wash her hands was just too much, a baby wipe had to do. Learn from my mistake - always remember gel, have it at the top of your bag, poised and ready for use.

Waterproof mascara - The likelihood of you crying in the car on the way home (or on the way there at the anticipation) is highly likely. That or a smattering of squash that gets launched your way, directly into the eye, only you hope that the fluid that just came into your presence is definitely just squash. My choice is the Natural Collection waterproof mascara, its cheap (£1.99) and does the job, I'm not wasting my YSL at soft play.

Sweets - Don't judge but there will come a point where a sweet bribe will get you out of a pickle and that's putting it lightly, I should say shit-storm (sometimes literally) like when your little darling refuses to go down the slide whilst you are waiting at the bottom, wave your bag of sweets and down they come. The alternative is to elbow your way through the crowd of kids that have gathered at the top waiting their turn, I know which I would prefer. Just be careful how visual you are, the backed-up children behind may also lunge at the possibility of sweets.

Comfy jeans and a long top - If you don't follow this piece of advice then your asking for trouble. Don't be so naive to think that you won't be coerced to go through the soft rollers, you will be going through them and you will flop out the other side like a fish. your arse will be on show, or even worse, flash that tattoo you got in your early 20's, might as well add a bit of thong whilst your there. Don't wear a skirt (are you crazy) there's no such thing as style at soft play - purely functional, in fact this is one occasion where leggings might actually be a good idea.

Lavender rollerball -  Give yourself an occasional douse of lavender, with relaxing properties the odd wiff of this might just take the edge off when you have to deal with a moment. Normally that moment is the onset of a tantrum, when you feel it brewing quickly get this out take a deep breath and then let the battle commence. I recently purchased the Tisserand one, it's not too overpowering but still gives a good hit of lavender.

Old boring socks - Ones that you can do the BBB to when you get home - Bleach, Boil or Burn. And I say boring because you could do without drawing attention to yourself. I made a rookie mistake on my first visit by wearing Minion socks in my attempt to be a "fun mum" only to be approached by 10,000 kids admiring the cheeky bastard face (I say cheeky bastard because I swear by the end of SP the Minion looked like it was laughing at me) the BBB was performed, I got the last laugh.

Lipbalm - Your lips may become a bit sore from all those lip biting moments and in the sweltering heat a bit dry too. But for the love of god do not bring a dip your finger in the pot type. It's a lip balm, not a live culture dish, make sure it stays that way by keeping that one at home. Instead opt for a tube, my fave? Carmex, it's a good price and it always works.

4head - A combination of the sounds, lights, colours tend to give me a headache. Think the throbbing sinus/forehead/tension type of headache. If you're not one to take a tablet then give 4head a go, slick a bit of this across your forehead to take the edge off the tension.

*please drink responsibly - do not spill

So there you have it, I have given you the crucial kit for surviving soft play. Share this amongst your mother friends for none of us should have to suffer unnecessarily. Go forth and survive.

Good luck and stay strong.



  1. I'm so glad I found your blog! I'v just followed your bloglovin! Sucha great and real post. I must say carmex is so wonderful, can't get anything better!


  2. Ha Ha! It makes me glad I'm not at that point in my life. Love the blog!

  3. Well this made me smile on a gloomy Friday morning before the thought of going to work sets in! Thank you... you are SO right. And I am definitely with you on the actors thing. Im pretty sure they must be... who seriously can remain that calm? OR its their children that are the ones terrorising ours and trying to speak to us about how Johnny is over in the ball pit and can you help them climb this ladder? Totally taking a miniature bottle of wine with me next time! Great tips #brilliantblogposts


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