Why I Hate Soft Play Centres

Before having Baby O, just the thought of soft play centres filled me with dread! Since becoming a mum, my fears have been confirmed.  After yesterday’s trip it will be a while until we return.

Normally on a Sunday morning me and Baby O go to our weekly Toddler Sense class, but as there was a two week break and we had lunch with friends later that afternoon I was determined to tire little man out so he’d have a good nap and be on top form.  As soon as I opened the door I knew I’d made a mistake.  What are my reasons for the dislike?

Other Parents!  When I do return I think I’ll leave Baby O at home, plonk myself in the corner with a large Vanilla Latte and just watch because I find it fascinating the various approaches parents have to soft play.

Firstly, I have no idea why you would pay an entrance fee for a soft play centre and then sit on the floor with your child clasped to you not letting them out of your grasp.  In the toddler zone, parents of twin girls sat slap bang in the middle of the smallest area and didn’t move for about half an hour.  Poor Baby O had to negotiate his way around them (without the smallest of movement to accommodate him) while I ran round them to meet him on the other side.  This ridiculous dance was completed by all other parents and their toddlers while these two sat smugly in the middle, grrrr!

Then there’s the iPhone parent, who as soon as their children are safely inside get their iPhone/iPad/any other device out and don’t look up.  These are usually the parents of the kid who is busy hitting the others as was the case yesterday.  One mother (whose young son had just been on the receiving end of a whack) was so enraged she headed over to “have a word”.  I generally avoid conflict at every opportunity but was silently cheering her on.

Let’s not forget the super enthusiastic parent, who is normally climbing the scramble net, singing a nursery rhyme and appears to have adopted at least a third of the children in there as their own.  I’m pretty sure I’ll learn to love this man (as it usually is a man) in a few years time as at least he’s keeping the kids entertained but on a Sunday morning, for me, it’s all a bit much!

So why do I go? Ahhh, now this is the reason that as parents we all venture there sometime, sooner or later.  Because nothing beats seeing Baby O’s face as we go down the Big Slide together, and that’s why our kids have us over a barrel.  We love to see them happy. So we will be back, but next time I might sneak a small bottle of gin in with me! Oh, and it didn’t even work, he still refused to nap!

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20 Comments

  1. August 26, 2013 / 6:07 pm

    I’ve ventured into soft play a couple of times this summer with my 11 month old daughter but won’t be returning until she’s a bit older! I was trying not to be one of those parents blocking the way while simultaneously trying to stop my baby being trampled/crawing off into places I couldn’t fit. Stress! She loved it though!

  2. August 26, 2013 / 6:19 pm

    I also hate soft play for very similar reasons. I hate the parents of older kids who don’t watch them because they’re big enough to look after themselves. Usually find these kids bashing other kids, invading the toddler area or being vile elsewhere out of their parents eye sight and ear shot. Have to admit, I do love soft play for the slides though, as a parent I like the excuse of being able to go on!

    • August 26, 2013 / 6:29 pm

      Yep, we had the older ones invading the toddler area yesterday. And I did love going down the big slide 🙂

  3. August 26, 2013 / 9:37 pm

    Great post and i totally agree!

    I hate soft play – especially the parents of the hitty kids as my son always seems to be on the receiving end, makes me so angry!!

  4. August 30, 2013 / 10:36 am

    I completely agree!!! My son loves going but I spend my time getting wound up by other parenting. I get angry at the ones that ignore their child whilst they beat up other children. I hate the ones that ignore the snot running down the childs face and getting wiped over everything. Then again I love watching the kids that interact nicely. I love watching my son making new friends and I love having the safe space where he can push himself to be more independent.
    Thanks for the post, it made me smile.
    Sue

  5. Lisa H
    August 30, 2013 / 1:12 pm

    Ergh soft play! Great idea in principal, if it wasn’t for those pesky other kids! I hated going when H was little as the older dont care about knocking her all over the place and the parents are nowhere to be seen!

  6. August 30, 2013 / 6:00 pm

    As someone without kids it not somewhere I’d ever venture but it sounds hideous!

  7. August 30, 2013 / 6:32 pm

    Oh my God I agree – I just hate the noise! I take the kids about twice a year to these places, and I hate very minute of it, except the odd from my kids. I am paranoid one of them will hurt themselves as well!

  8. August 31, 2013 / 4:12 pm

    My distaste for soft play is only met by my children’s enthusiasm to go. Sigh.
    #BYOB

  9. October 26, 2013 / 8:53 am

    My daughter loves them, I’m the enthusiastic one you talk about following her everywhere but stepping back when she’s taken under the wing of an older (well behaved child). I hate the parents who just let their kids do anything as the other day with a hyper school age child knocking over smaller kids, then his sister (about 3yo) hit my daughter because they touched hands through a net! My daughter is only 22mo, and this probably wouldn’t have happened if the mother had supervised her children. They’re place to have fun with your child not let them run riot while you chat and have coffee. This makes my husband hate them, I am more tolerable lol!

  10. sarahmo3w
    October 26, 2013 / 5:37 pm

    My pet hate is the women who all sit together gossiping and never look at their kids – I guess it’s your iPhone parent but multiplied into a big group. I’m so pleased my kids are too old for soft-play now!

  11. Winegums & Watermelons
    October 26, 2013 / 5:42 pm

    I couldn’t agree more about softplay! We rarely go, and when we do we aim to go when there are the least amount of people possible! The worst for me is the parent who actually watches their child hit others and doesn’t move a muscle or say a word?!

  12. August 6, 2014 / 6:19 am

    hahahahaha I can totally relate to this. I love to hate them too but on rainy days, sometimes I can’t think of anything else.
    We only ever go to one-better the devil you know but the parents are a joy to watch,
    Very funny 😀
    Emma Lander recently posted…My own Great British Bake-Wholemeal Lemon Curd CakeMy Profile

  13. August 6, 2014 / 10:54 am

    I haaaaaaaaaaaaaaate soft play – And Z absolutely loves it. It always smells sweaty and I always end up climbing the entire thing to try to drag z out from the top. My hubby doesn’t fit but I do, unfortunately. Bleurgh.
    Notmyyearoff recently posted…Eid, Birthdays and WeddingsMy Profile

  14. August 6, 2014 / 5:14 pm

    We’ve had our first experience of soft play being in the UK and I must say I agree it’s the grown ups behaviour that is the most shocking!! We had lots of bigger kids running around wild in the toddler area and no one was monitoring that and when I figured out who the kids belonged to it was their gran and she was actually encouraging them to stay in that area GRRRRR!!
    Arthur has also subsequently got a cold……!!
    seychellesmama recently posted…I’ve moved!!My Profile

  15. Potty Mouthed Mummy
    August 6, 2014 / 5:56 pm

    The hub loves soft play and often takes h on their days here and there together. I’ve been only a couple of times luckily but all those parents you mention were there in force! Fab post lovely xx
    Potty Mouthed Mummy recently posted…Wicked Wednesdays #3 | The PoleMy Profile

  16. August 7, 2014 / 7:31 pm

    I’m going against the grain here and whispering that I actually don’t mind soft play, as it lets my two and three year old run off some steam and is one of the few times right now when they don’t try to kill each other! However, I agree that I hate parents who aren’t watching their child and let them terrorise others. If I don’t see a parent about, I’m more than willing to give a ‘pushy’ child a telling off! My rule is to get there early, and leave by 11 when it gets mental. Great post! #sharewithme
    Becky | Spirited Puddle Jumper recently posted…Garden Update- July 2014My Profile

  17. Jenny
    August 7, 2014 / 8:29 pm

    Ahh bless you hunny I have been in all those situations with my two at the soft play area. I have had to be the one having a word as a young child was beating all the kids around us and the mother was chatting away and then finally one child had enough and pushed back and the mother decided oh she would look over and come screaming at the mother of the other child that just pushed her son who had point blank punched him in the face. It was not pretty scene. But like you said we will do anything for our kids to light up like a christmas tree. And my kids absolutely love them so we will continue to go but I always make sure its a quiet day during the week there and school is in. Helps weed out these parents! lol Thanks for linking up to Share with Me #sharewithme
    Jenny recently posted…Poem 62: The first one turns threeMy Profile

  18. August 9, 2014 / 9:40 pm

    We have been to soft play a few times recently and I have to say, my two love it. I am the mum sat at the table with the coffee watching my two and making sure they are ok, my husband happens to be the one who is having as much fun as the kids and helping the other little ones scale the nets and generally enjoying himself in there, I do try to pretend I don’t know him and have to remind him not to talk to other peoples children as they might not like it! Dragging the three of them home is a long job! #sharewithme

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