As parent to a three year old, we spend a lot of time at Soft Play. It’s a necessary evil. The Irish weather doesn’t allow for playground hijinks as much as we need, and the alternative is absolutely wrecking my house (and my head). So, off to Soft Play we go. He loves it, he’s a daredevil mad to be climbing higher and higher. Me? My love is somewhat less obvious. For me, soft play raises more questions than it answers. Here are just some of them.
This one seems to be a universal bugbear. I’ve not found one yet (and we’ve tried many) that do decent coffee. Drinkable coffee is rare. Good coffee doesn’t exist in the doors of these places. The majority we have been to opt for coffee from a machine (often burnt and nasty) or instant coffee. Now, I get that it’s a cost saving thing, I do. But your prime customers are parents. Sleep deprived, stressed out, needing a decent coffee while their kids leave them alone for five minutes. They’re also paying for said coffee – this is no act of charity. So really, owners of Soft Play areas – make the investment for that on sale Nespresso machine, or the Aeropress. You can even charge a little extra for the coffee, we won’t mind, as long as it is filled with tasty goodness. Not so much to ask, is it?
Tea from a Machine
Alongside the plethora of god-awful coffee, tea is GENERALLY the safe option of hot beverages. Generally, until you discover that the Soft Play area your child is currently stuck into only sells tea that’s made in a machine.
It’s tea. Stick a teabag in, boil the kettle, you can even leave the rest to me. Don’t tarnish the good name of tea by using CAPSULES. (It is DEFINITELY not Barry’s).
Soft Play areas are often filled with kids birthday parties and days out. As a result, they mostly have a catering service attached to feed the kids. However, given that children are their focus, the lack of attention paid to the menu is disheartening. How many versions of “meat-thing and chips” can you serve without any other option? I know kids aren’t looking for a five course meal with wine options, and yes some can be fussy eaters. But a bit of variety, a bit of something that isn’t sausages and chicken goujons and chips, maybe perhaps one or two vegetables? That would definitely be more appealing. The folks at No 9 Barronstrand St have the right idea, if only they had a soft play area!
The Steep Slide
If your slide is so steep you need someone supervising how children go down it, is it REALLY the brightest idea to have in a children’s soft play area? I mean, really?
The Joys Of “Children Must Be Kept Supervised At All Times” While In Stupidly Difficult To See Them Climbing Frames
I’d love to be able to have the X-Ray vision required to see through the million and one obstacles within the frame, but I’m lacking that particular characteristic. It’s funny to think about, having the ability to actually supervise at all times. Of course, I sit there, looking over every few minutes, but it’s impossible. I’ve contemplated strapping a Go-Pro to his head, that I’m able to follow on my phone. For now, I’ve just got to assume that he’s not fighting with other kids, after falling down some steps or after peeing in the corner. Right?
The Opening Hours
Why, on Sunday mornings and Bank Holidays, are these places not open early? I don’t know about you, but I’m fairly sure we would be there, with bells on. Toddlers don’t understand the meaning of the word lie in. We need something, anything, to burn off the energy, and outdoors doesn’t always work. Yes, it costs more to pay employees, but I guarantee you, you’d make that back and more by opening early to the frustrated masses of parents! (Of course, the point about good coffee would also work well here).
Those are just some of the random thoughts that pop into my head while I’m sat in the (hell that is) soft play area – got anything to add? I’d love to hear them – leave a comment below, or over on Facebook!