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.


Tick tock

WHEN the Little Mister falls asleep in my arms, it’s time to make a choice. Do I leave him be and enjoy? Or do I go and put him down in his cot.

In the points for column under option one –

I should make the most of these sleepy baby cuddles before he gets too big.

In the points for column under option two –

I could get so much done if Milin was asleep in his cot.

The appeal of option one is obvious. Why wouldn’t I want lots of cuddles with my baby? But option two is all about time. Because with the Little Mister around, there simply isn’t the time to “get so much done”.

I think a lot about the things I no longer have time for. Doing my nails every week. Cleaning the bathroom every few days. Spending hours at the gym. Trying out complicated recipes. But tonight, when Milin fell asleep on my lap, I realised that thinking about the things I do have time for is a far better way to occupy my mind. It’s quite some list.

1. Going out for coffee: When you’re at home with a baby, going out for coffee is not a luxury. It’s a necessity. It’s a way of keeping in touch with old friends, and a way of meeting up with the new ones met through baby club. It’s an easy way to entertain the Little Mister, and it’s a way of getting a regular dose of adult conversation. But perhaps most importantly, it’s about getting a real shot of caffeine/sugar after getting up four times the night before.

2. Going for walks: Ok, so sometimes this isn’t a choice. Sometimes taking Milin out in the buggy and going for a decent walk is the only way to get him to sleep, or distract him from the fact that there’s no activities planned for today and he’s stuck at home with mama. But it’s still pretty lovely to be able to go for a walk whenever you want. Not only is it free exercise, but it’s a little relax and recharge time in the fresh air. Today, our walk took us around Oriental Parade and the Little Mister got to watch the ocean again. Yep, we’re rather lucky.

3. Staying in bed. I know this will change. But right now, Milin sleeps til 9am. Which means I do too. It’s amazing.

4. Reading books. Not books with lots of words in them, or books that make you think, or thick books with soft covers and a list of awards and serious reviews on the back – but books like The Hungry Caterpillar. Books that bring back being a kid. Books that make me remember what it was like to be read to. Books that are teaching Milin about the world, and that are causing his eyes to open wide (and his mouth, because really, he just wants to chew the pages).

5. Being silly. With Milin around, I get to be really silly all day long. In fact, the sillier the better. Which means tickling him, rolling round on the floor with him, holding him up in the air and playing airplanes, making cat noises, pulling silly faces and talking baby talk right back to him.

6. Having lots of cuddles. With my baby who loves me unconditionally. There’s probably no better way to spend my time.