It is a happy talent to know how to play – Ralph Waldo Emerson
On Monday we took Emily to soft play for the first time. Soft play is something I’ve heard a LOT about from other parents and always spoken about negatively. I’ve wanted to take Emily for a few months now as she is getting much more mobile and loves to climb. I wanted to take her somewhere she could climb and explore safely and soft play seemed like the perfect place!
I had a look online at the soft play centre by us, The Play Shed, and the prices seemed really reasonable. It cost £1.50 for under 1s who were playing and they had a separate play area for children under the age of 3. The play area looked quite small but when we got there it was quite a good size.
Play turns out to be so stunningly essential to childhood, it’s like love, sunshine and broccoli all juiced together – Lenore Skenazy
When we arrived at the soft play centre we paid the £1.50 entry fee, parked the pushchair at a table and quickly got Emily out. We chose a really good day to go as there were no children under 3 playing when we got there and maximum 5 older children playing in the main area.
Emily was a little unsure at first as we sat her straight into the ball pit. She picked up a ball in each hand and just sat there looking at us. However, after a few minutes she had warmed up and was happily kicking her legs and laughing at her Daddy throwing the balls around. After the ball pit she wanted to stretch her legs a little bit as it was quite tricky for her to pull herself up to stand and slipped on the balls. We got her out and she crawled off at speed to explore the floor play area. There was a little blue plastic rocking horse and some huge soft building blocks which she loved to play with. She got the hang of the rocking horse really quickly and was able to rock herself. Emily seems to be growing up so quickly and becoming so independent. My mama heart can’t take it!
After a while some more children turned up to play in the under 3s section and Emily was in her element watching them and trying to play! She climbed up to stand by the ball pit and was passing balls back and forth between herself and a little girl. The little girls Grandma was also playing with Emily which she loved, she’s so sociable! Such a people person! Just next to the ball pit was a place to climb up and at the top was a slide all the way back down again. The slide had two lanes and it was so fun to race Daddy down! After a few turns on the slide sitting on our knee we decided to let Emily slide down on her own. Daddy waited at the top to let her go and I sat at the bottom to catch her. We turned her over so she was on her stomach and held her hands to drop her feet first down the slide. I was a little nervous the first time and only let her drop and inch or so before guiding her the rest of the way with my hand on her bum. She seemed to really enjoy it though and we all got braver and let her go the whole way! Emily had the best fun sliding down and she was completely safe going feet first.
Some days are simply meant for playing – Mary Anne Radmacher
About 30 minutes into the soft play session we stopped for a little sit down and Emily had her milk. After a pit stop to refuel she was ready to go back to play! We let her crawl freely around the building for a while before guiding her back to the under 3s area. Emily loved charging around and trying to climb onto the rocking horse. We spotted a car track with little plastic trikes and those red and yellow cars that every nursery has! We took Emily across to see if she would sit in the car and whether or not her feet would touch the ground.
As we approached the cars Emily was squealing in excitement! It was so so cute! Jordan sat her in the car and I got my phone ready to take photos. She shuffled herself down a little bit so her feet were on the floor and started pushing herself backwards. I wasn’t sure she would get the hang of moving the car but this girl is full of surprises! Emily loved pushing herself backwards in the car but wasn’t too keen on us helping her to go forwards. We tried her on a trike as well but she wasn’t as stable on this and couldn’t quite get the hang of moving it. She also did not like us trying to help her.
As we were playing with the cars we could tell she was getting a little bit tired. By this point we had played for a whole hour which is a very long time for a baby! It felt like long enough for us, let alone her. We took her back to the slide for one last go and one last little dip in the ball pit. Then it was wave good bye to the play area and back into the pushchair for our walk home. Emily fell asleep within 5 minutes of being in the pushchair which I think means she had a great time!
I can’t wait to take her back. After all the negativity online surrounding soft play centres I’m extremely pleased to say we had a 100% positive experience! We had such a fun time and it was lovely to see Emily explore and interact with the other children. I’m hoping to make a trip to the soft play a regular thing! We will avoid weekends and school holidays for now though.
Love Laura xx