Hello Black Wednesday. 

Some might think that stating the obvious is a pointless task. I however believe that if you are stupid enough to trudge your kids, and one of their friends through the pouring rain and into your local zoo’s soft play on a day where Noah is on the edge of his seat, then you deserve to be ridiculed. 

What I am about to tell you IS obvious. I mean, we all know the rules don’t we: summer holidays + rain = stay the fuck away from soft play. I’ve been in the job 6 and a half years and still I make rookie errors… And I am sharing today’s with you. 

Welcome to my nightmare: Soft play on speed.

I’m writing this on the floor next to the highly over populated gated ‘baby zone’. 

On. The. Floor.

I scanned the deafening inferno for a base upon arrival: all eyes were instantly diverted away from my glance. Why are kids taking up highly sought after square footage in the parent zone? There’s a whole hyper-colour plaza just waiting to be explored. Look lively and shift it… s’il vous plait. 

God bless the holidays. 

It’s dawning on me that the possibilities for a bout of contagious pukage are ample in this mosh pit. Swarms of under 8’s are literally salivating over the soft mats. Schools out and the germs have found a new breeding ground. Hopping between miss screechy to master whingey in a nano-second. 

Everything is sodding soaked. Rain in biblical proportions is hissing down, the zoo’s day trippers have found refuge in the soft play: of course they have. Why didn’t that occur to me before we left? And I realise this may be obvious (as is the nature of this entire post)… but my socks are wet. And come to think of it, I’m sitting on a wet floor so I probably have a wet backside too: August is such a giver. 

A thought was inching its way into my conscious, I tried to block it out, I really did… 

Nits.

There are heads everywhere. Too many of them. All full of hair, all possibly harbouring nit farms. I do air on the side of total paranoia when it comes to the creepy hair breeders. But they attack me first and it makes me edgy. For some reason Nits adore the straw-like consistency of my barnet. I’m tempted to put a hair net over my kids – and myself. I realise this may attract some attention: 

‘The crazy lady typing on the floor looks like my dinner lady’. But the minors are close. Up close and way too personal on the head to head proximity meter for my anxiety level to regulate. 
It must be well documented that rain causes FuckWitSyndrome. It’s an unfortunate condition which appears to be effecting every child without exception. Sweaty Duracell bunnies are literally running around in circles. Some with their eyes shut. All with their mouths open. Demands and accusations are vying for space on the air waves.

(Hurrah! I found a seat- just saying. I had to perform a stealth Bolt-style move to secure this desk space. Backpack, water bottles, snack pack and iPad in my clutches. The seat is miiiiiine. All I need now is for my left bum cheek to rejoin the land of the living…
)

I knew it was coming. I could tell as she approached my chair; blue eyes wide, angelic face slightly tilted for optimum Cute:

“Can I have a red shushy?”
“No”
“Can I have a blue shushy?”
“No”
“Pleeeease can I have a shushy”
“No”
“But mum I NEED a shushy”
“The machine’s broken”
“But THEY have a shushy” (points to privileged Timmy & Jimmy)
Ok, I think, let’s try and level with ToddlerMonster:
“Darling, Mummy and Daddy are on a real economy drive for the next few weeks. We had a lovely holiday last week didn’t we?” (I don’t wait for the confirmation) “Last week was tax bill time, and we are going to Holland to that cheap version of Centre Parcs before nursery starts again aren’t we. We are only here because we have annual passes- so it’s basically free. I’ve made a snack pack fit for 3 giants, AND you had lunch before we left. Have a bourbon and go play”

3 year old stares blankly, “Can I have chips?” 
*Bangs head against metal table several times*

By this point I’ve become immune to the decibel level, I lift my eyes from typing away this post and it dawns on me that the cafe area has become a sort of awkward PTA party. It’s so jam packed, demographics are falling over each other. 

It’s Jeremy Kyle meets Joules. 



Breton strips are interspersed with a skin tight jogger: Who IS Ivy Park?! I’m not entirely sure where I fit into this social tapestry… I’m wearing Dan’s golf jumper that I shrunk in the wash, complimented by 2-days-over hair. I think that makes me ‘Jumble-Mom’. 
I’ve put in 3 hours. I chose this over a career. I love that what’s left of my brain enjoys reminding me of this fact at the most opportune of moments. 
Finally the man with the broom appears: its chucking out time. 

Until September…

My happy mum-face when we finally walked in! My husband’s a lucky man…

Sod the Gym Membership… Get a Soft Play Pass.

I’m not really a ‘gym’ person. I realised this when I once paid £500 for an introductory half hour session, a long time ago. Enthusiastically, pre-children I signed up to the gym right below our office one January along with all of the other girls from work. A sort of group new years resolution. ‘We could spin during lunch’ we hailed, ‘we could swim after work’ we cried. Some even went as far as to chip in with ‘we could do Body Pump BEFORE work’. At the time I didn’t like to pipe up with the fact that I thought we had all gone RAVING MAD! We already worked long hours in a thankless sales office, frankly the thought of doing anything other than eating my meal deal during lunch time blew my mind. Let alone the prospect of waking extra early to ‘pump bodies’ (whatever that meant!) And when work finished, that was it I was outta there and into the bar next door to moan probably about being fat and unfit amongst other things.
So having signed up and set up the monthly payments I skipped along to my induction. Never to return to the gym again!!! But they tie you in, you cannot, to quote Friends ‘QUIT THE GYM’ they don’t let you. In my case the Gods took pity and the place burnt down! No joke..

I digress. So, Soft Play AKA Muma-Gym.

I have never quite experienced physical exertion like I did during one particular visit to a well known Soft Play centre. Lila was 6 months old and Darcie had just turned 3. My greatest error was to have innocently assumed that going it alone with the two of them and no little chums to play with Darcie was a good idea. I spent the next 2 hours crawling, jumping, climbing up, climbing down, lifting Darcie over, dragging her under the brightly coloured ‘FUN’ jungle.  All the while dressed like a marsupial, wearing Lila! EXHUSTED, why don’t they sell wine in the café?! Gap in the market there.
8 months on and the girls are a little older, obviously. But this has meant they are stronger, faster and braver. If I thought climbing through tunnels, up sheer drops, down loopy slides (which test your pelvic floor, I might add) was tiring enough, it has nothing on trying to keep eyes on two children literally running, amongst other children running, amongst throngs of Mumas sipping MASSIVE mugs of caffeine, amongst the enthusiastic young YOUNG staff who frankly could do with having their own parents there to keep an eye on them.
In between the cries for refreshment – just how much juice can a 4 year old get through in one session?! Jugs upon jugs of the stuff, and the cries for yet another snack to keep those energy levels at an all time high, you have the cries all Mumas fear most: those cries that have been inflicted by your own child.
Cue sympathetic voice, and fake smiles, to poor little Johnny who Darcie pushed down the loopy slide because actually he had been sat there for about 10 minutes telling his gathering crowd of nippers that he was king of the slide. NOT.FOR.LONG. While I don’t condone pushing, fighting, snatching bla bla etc I do have to reserve my ‘serves you right Johnny’ face, and adopt the more appropriate ‘sorry my child hurt your child’ face. What I’m really thinking is, “Put your oversized caffeine fix down and teach Johnny the way of the world: starting with basic slide etiquette!”

If you can survive a soft play session without a) breaking a sweat and b) not thinking “Where the fuck are my fucking kids” you’ve done well, very well.
I come out of the ‘fun’ warehouse with ringing ears, teary over tired children, a bad back, DISGUSTING socks and an overwhelming need to wash mine and the kids hands in bleach.
But, We’ll be back next week…