Soft play, you love it and you hate it. It’s great for letting kids burn off energy, letting them meet friends and play together and learn to do knew things like climbing and jumping all in a safe and soft environment. On the other hand though, it’s hot, sweaty, stinks of feet and your constantly surrounded by screams of kids running around like a hurricane.
My latter description was my initial impression of soft play centers when I was on maternity leave and Amelia was much smaller. I would just spend the the whole time trying to prevent her from being knocked over or kicked in the head by other children running around.
I found those first few visits so stressful, I couldn’t relax, I couldn’t enjoy the time we were there and most of the time I would just give up and take her out of the play area and find somewhere to sit and have a drink. We never stayed very long and she definitely didn’t get to do much playing or exploring.
When I returned back to work I had this feeling of guilt that I hadn’t take her to play groups or soft play centers enough; maybe it was because she’s bigger now and so much more interesting in playing or maybe it was the fact that working full time left me feeling like I didn’t have the choice to take her even if I wanted to and suddenly I had all this guilt about not going when I had the chance.
So, last week we ventured out to our local soft place center and I decided to give it another try. Now that she’s bigger Amelia was able to use more of center than just the baby sensor room and she was very unsure at first. In fact she just sat there for about 5 minutes but it felt like an eternity. All I could think was that she hated the place and that we’d wasted our time.
After a little while though she started to notice the other children playing and then out of the corner of her eye, ball pit! Oh she loves a ball pit, we had so much fun on the first visit, she went down the slides into the balls, threw them around, played with some of the other toys and she was exhausted when we left.
After such a successful time last week I decided to go back again this week, and it was even better. I’m so so glad I decided to take her again, even if she was asleep when we got there. This week she didn’t even need to acclimatize, she was straight off and into the ball pit again. This time she was climbing up on the sides and then falling off into the balls. At first I tried to catch her, thinking she would cry but she did it over and over again and she giggled every time.
I am an absolute soft play convert, too bad I’m back to work full time and we’ll have to go at the weekend now if I want to take her again. Oh God, the thought of soft play on a Saturday!