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Soft Play anyone? A first timer’s survival guide

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.


Rain = find a Plan B really quick Mum

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!


Diary of an imperfect mum
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  1. April 29, 2016 / 6:15 pm

    It sounds like it went well…
    I hate soft play….My girls are older so they are off doing their own thing at when we go to soft play. My girls have had plenty of run ins with feral children…. lol x

    • May 4, 2016 / 12:11 pm

      Haha I had another experience since where a feral child almost jumped on top of Emma!! The first of many I’m sure 😉 Thanks for commenting x

  2. May 1, 2016 / 2:14 pm

    I have a serious love/hate relationship with soft play. Its like throwing yourself into a lions den but up against staying at home with an overactive toddler / cabin fever I’ll choose it any day! Thanks for linking up #stayclassy

    • May 4, 2016 / 12:08 pm

      Haha I agree with you there, nothing worse than when she’s bouncing off the walls! Thanks for commenting x

  3. May 1, 2016 / 4:14 pm

    So true. I am not a fan of soft play (not sure anyone is an actual fan) but we also found ourselves at one the other day…a rainy day…possibly the same day as you did! Totally agree about finding one that suits you, this was almost quite lovely, well I mean I’d go again without too much inner turmoil which is more than I can say for the others I’ve tried! My son is a little older at two and a half and I massively saw an increase in benefit and enjoyment for him than when he was smaller too. #stayclassy

    • May 4, 2016 / 12:06 pm

      Thanks for commenting – I have since gone to another bigger soft play on Bank Holiday Monday and I think we were both in shellshock! I think it’ll definitely improve when she’s a bit older 🙂 x

  4. May 1, 2016 / 7:50 pm

    Aw this sounds like so much fun! (Well and a bit scary!) Thanks for the tips I’m bookmarking this for when my son is a bit older. It does seem a bit crazy to have 4 year olds and babies, so as you said, I’ll make sure to sit near him. : ) Thanks for sharing with #StayClassy!

    • May 4, 2016 / 12:03 pm

      The crazy thing is the babies absolutely love it, even though I’m sitting there fending off the feral children haha. Thanks for hosting! Xx

  5. May 4, 2016 / 1:47 pm

    I think when you have little ones soft-play centres can be a scary place. I tell you what though, when your kids get older they’re a god-send! I love taking my boys so they can run around like crazy ones and burn off some energy while I sit and either work on my blog or chat to other mums. 🙂
    Thanks for linking to #PoCoLo, it’s lovely to e-meet you. xx

  6. May 5, 2016 / 3:27 pm

    Agree you need to research – unfortunately our soft plays don’t allow own food so you are stuck paying their prices which is annoying. My boys love it and I use it when I need to work as now the boys are old enough to be pretty independent but I used to hate the places when they were younger – I’d be stressed and knackered by the end. TY for linking up to #FamilyFun

  7. May 6, 2016 / 8:03 pm

    I hold my had up, I’ve not been to soft play yet! He’s 10 months old so I am kinda avoiding it for a bit longer. I think it will be interesting but I am keen to do stuff outdoors. I’m the mad lady pushing the buggy about in the rain and hail! Thankfully my little one is still quite happy to sit and watch in the buggy. I am waiting for the bubble to burst and all he wants is out to go crawling/walking himself. GLad you had a good time, these are some great tips, I need to be more organised and carry snacks and water round with me on a regular basis regardless of soft play or not! THanks for linking up to #familyfun

  8. May 6, 2016 / 8:56 pm

    I don’t mind soft plays but I time it well after a disastrous 10.30am rainy day school holiday visit to a very small one near to where I used to live. Monkey was just on her feet and tiny (about 11 months) and it was chaos!

    Now I go early afternoon if she’s had a morning or early nap as I find this is when most ‘normal’ toddlers (i.e.. not mine) nap so. we often have the place nearly to ourselves.

    Glad you had an okay time, I think they are a great invention just to be able to get a coffee in peace if nothing else

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