First Came Playtime

SOFT play. Three months ago I didn’t know what it was. And if you’d have asked me to guess, I would have got it very wrong. Today, the Little Mister went on his first excursion to a soft play venue. He was tucked up in bed, shattered, sound asleep, at 5.30pm. That’s pretty much the definition of success.

Junglerama. The very word has filled me with dread for the last few months. Frankly, it sounded like hell. It sounded like lots of snotty toddlers running around screaming and then crying, spreading their bugs around and fighting. Milin loved it.

With our Monday morning coffee group, we decided to give a new, local, venue a try. Junglerama it was. As it turns out, the coffee was cheap ($3.50) and not undrinkable. But that came last. First came playtime.

This massive play zone built for kiddies is about a ten minute walk from our front door. Milin and I arrived just after a decent morning nap and I couldn’t believe how big the place was. We were a small group today, but the Little Mister and his buddy spent a good bit of time in the ‘four years old and under’ corner. The manky carpet was softer than our wooden floor for trying to crawl on, the brightly coloured balls went straight to his mouth, and there were lots of bigger kids to watch and babble to as they ran around. The Little Mister was happy.

He sat, initially looking rather shell shocked, for the first few minutes. And then he realised I wasn’t leaving him, the balls were quite fun, and he could try and climb on the soft animals. He started smiling.

The more mobile kids pretty much left us alone, which was nice. And on a weekday morning, it wasn’t too bad. On the next rainy day when the swings are ruled out, and the Little Mister gets bored of me at home, we might head back there. As long as it’s not after school’s out or it’s the weekend or the school holidays.

I did get my coffee, but that was the beginning of the end. The Little Mister didn’t like the high chair (perhaps he was too small for it, and perhaps me trying to feed him lunch didn’t go down well either), and probably he just wanted to keep on playing. He made his dissent clear when I tried to pack him into the buggy to leave. We had a disagreement about this, it took a bit of time, but I won – despite his best arched back attempt.

I’m glad we won’t be here once he is older to take a little more in. (Although I can imagine I’ll face worse problems in London.) In the cafe, junk food lined the counter. Brightly coloured bags of sweets for the kids were on offer if they didn’t want hot chips, just behind a sign saying no food from outside was allowed in. What a nightmare it must be for mums with older kids. I’m glad I won’t have to try and say, ‘No Milin, you can’t have anything to eat here, wait until we get outside and I’ll give you a pear’. Goodness.

But all up, I like soft play too. I freely admit I’m struggling with the mess a small person makes. I’m fighting the clutter. There are so many toys, meal times take mess to another level, and I know this will only get worse. At least at Junglerama the mess stays behind the door when you leave. I worry sometimes that I’ll be a rubbish play companion, but at Junglerama, they’ve made it a little easier.


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