The three words I have been reluctant to utter over the past 12 months.
I’ve seen the rolling eyes from parents we know and I just thanked myself lucky that Emma hadn’t been mobile enough for soft play until very recently. Then yesterday, I had a full day of beach and park action planned. It was going to be lovely – the sun shining as I push her on the swings to make her giggle.
But then it rained. No, it didn’t just rain. It hailed!! Since when does it hail at the end of April?! As I looked down at Emma, who was getting increasingly angsty and keeps crawling to the door (this may or may not have been a sign), I knew our first time at soft play was upon us.
The verdict? We survived and Emma had an amazing time – here’s what I learnt from my first time at soft play:
1. Do your research so the soft play is suited to your little one. As Emma is still quite little, we chose a smaller soft play – some of the places in Brighton are amazing monstrous mazes which seems a bit daunting. My thinking, this will be more manageable with less kids in the ball pit….or even better none at all. This didn’t happen and we ended up sharing with an over-excited 4 year old who wanted to show us how many times she can jump into the ball pit from a height.
2. Bring lots of snacks and water. The lighting is unbelievably bright and may give you a headache. We were actually only there for 45 minutes and by the time we left it felt like Godzilla was banging a hammer on my temples. And anything is made better by rice cakes, so don’t leave them behind.
3. Timing. The ideal is to not go when it’s raining and everyone is trying to escape the outdoors, or after school is out. So a completely impractical time when there will be nobody else there haha. It does help to go in the quieter moments of the day, especially in these early days when they are just getting used to something new.
4. Keep a close eye. There will always be older kids there and most baby sections at soft play are for 0-4 year olds, which is such a big age range. I found that being closeby so Emma felt the reassurance that I was there, as well as being able to step in and move her if needed, was a big help. There were a few 4 year olds there, but they were very kind and fascinated by babies. Emma gets mesmerised by older kids, so the worry was mostly on my part!
5. In moments of doubt or despair, look at how much your little one is loving it. Because they really do love it and Emma especially loved looking in the mirror and recognising that we are both in the mirror and next to each other. Too cute!
So all in all, it didn’t go too badly and I’m pleased about that as I’m sure it won’t be our last visit 🙂 How was your first experience at soft play? Let me know any tips or anecdotes in the comments below!