You need to be made of strong stuff at soft play!

Katy Pearson, Sonny Jim, soft play, the Fun Factory
Soft play Sonny Jim: safe from sharp edges and hard floors

Since Sonny Jim started crawling a couple of months ago I’ve been desperately trying to wear the little menace out so as he stops wanting to continually open and close doors, climb up everything in sight and use any part of my anatomy that’s in range as a bouncy castle.

So soft play it was. Our first venture into this weird world was the Fun Factory, on the Purdeys Industrial Estate, in Rochford. Sonny Jim adored the slide, was terrified by the ball pit and crawled around free from his mum’s usual fretting about sharp edges and hard floors. Since that first trip though, I’ve realised that whatever soft play place you go to, there are always these kids hanging about too…

The one in the wrong section

Signs clearly state the area is for under ones. But there he is. The whole of five years old and bowling around like he owns the place, setting up camp in the tunnel and refusing to let babies crawl in or out. Parents are, of course, nowhere to be seen and tentative inquires of “aren’t you a little big for in here” are met with brazen eyed looks of distain.

Mummy and Sonny Jim, Katy Pearson, the Echo
In print: How this post appeared in the Echo

The one with the food

Again, there are signs about this. Signs that explicitly state that eating is prohibited inside the soft play fences and food should be consumed in the eating area a whole 10ft away. But this obviously doesn’t apply to this tot. He’s shovelling an Ella’s Kitchen (naturally straight from the pouch) into his gob. And he is, of course, also totally flouting the no-shoes rule too.

The one with the nappy

The smell is enough to make your eyes smart. After a few seconds’ terror that it might be your child emitting a smell rancid enough to require full radiation protection gear (followed by the requisite discrete bottom sniff) you realise it is, of course, the child that your baby is obsessed with crawling after. How can the parents not smell it? How?

The one on a sugar rush

You can usually hear him before you see him. And when he does come into sight, blink and you’ll miss him – though you won’t miss the trail of destruction left in his wake. The balls will be out of the ball pit, anything that is not stuck down (and actually sometimes things that are) are chucked across the room and there will probably be a couple of confused toddlers face down on a mat having got in this force-of-nature-clad-in-just-a-vest-and-a-nappy’s way.

Not been to soft play yet? Ha, you wait…

Find out more about the Fun Factory, in Rochford, here:

This post first appeared in the Echo newspaper on Friday, March 30:

This post was Mumsnet’s blog post of the day on Thursday, April 6. Yay! Check it out here:

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