It’s the holidays and it’s raining. This is no surprise as we live in England and it’s the school holidays; it is always wet. So we started the week by going to soft play.
I really dislike soft play. My children on the other hand love to scramble through balls and throw themselves down slides. I dislike soft play for the following reasons:
1. It’s a breeding ground for germs.
2. There is always a really overbearing parent who just follows their child around stopping their own and other children having fun.
3. There is always a really too laid back or just absence parent who does not care what their child is doing, even if their child is trying to get out via a skylight. I am not making this one up either.
4. They tend to be hot and clammy places
5. I am always wedged somewhere whilst trying to ‘rescue’ my children from a slide or slope.
So with much fear and dread in my heart, we set out for soft play. Today at the Playbarn. Set on a converted farm, the playbarn is fun. Plenty of parking to the car park and then an overflow car park to the front (that’s fun for parents) You enter and pay at the front desk and you really do get a warm welcome. The staff are lovely. You pay. Prices and times are detailed at the bottom of the post. You are then wristbanded up like you are attending the best festival ever!
Take your shoes off (remember socks) and off you go. There is a toy area and then the play structure with padded scaffolding. It’s not massive, the play structure I mean. 1 twisty slide, a rope covered bridge and maze of mirrors to the top level and soft weeble bit. It’s ok.
There is an outdoor part with tractors and ride on toys and a beach barn with sand and outdoor heaters. There is an inside eating area for the cafe and an outdoor set of picnic tables. I’m rushing thru what’s there as it’s the experiences of soft play that are more interesting. For wee people the ball pit and babies area is great. Crafts and colouring area are also provided. You could spend a great couple of hours there. EDIT I’ve just had a DM asking me what we thought of the animal part…..We have been here 10 times. What animal part? So going back to check.
So we got there at 9.30am when it opens. You want some time when no one or fewer people are there.
We take our own food, I know I know we are cheapsakes.
Then it gets busy at about 10.30am.
My word the child dynamics are interesting to watch.
1. The child who walks around screaming at any other child who walks or brushes past them or exists and their helicopter parent is set to damage control. This was us 2 yrs ago with T.
2. The older child who is around 9 years old and too big for everything and it’s just not appropriate for them to go anymore.
3. The girls who scream and shriek as they run around piecing the ear drums of anyone in a 100m radius.
4. The Grandchild, who no matter what age they are, they are left to wander aimlessly around unable to reach a lot of the equipment and beg other adults to help them whilst their Grandparent sits and drinks a coffee and looks at their phone.
5. The group of Mums who all crowd around 3 big tables that are out of view of the main play area and have no idea what their child is up to.
We met all of these people today and more. It’s the loud, echoness of the spaces that gets to me. The kids enjoyed themselves and the Playbarn go a thumbs up from them. It is expensive for what it is.
£8.50 for under 7s.
£1.50 for adults.
So for our family it worked out at £20 and we stayed from 9.30am till 12noon. Better soft play but without the outside space is locally available for around £4.50 to £5. So it feels expensive. We only really go to soft play when it’s really raining outside so the outdoor area is neither here nor there. We give it a 5 out of 10. The main downside being cost. They also do pony rides; they are £2 extra. Now a return visit is in order to see the animals.