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To not understand why soft play centres are so bad?

(129 Posts)
Stigaloid Mon 03-Aug-09 10:14:11

I have taken my son to a couple of soft play centres and whilst they aren't much fun for me, he seems to enjoy them on the few occasions we have been so far. He much prefers the park, but on rainy days he likes climbing and jumping around safely indoors. i have seen quite a few comments on MN about softplay centres and wondered why they are viewed as being bad? Genuine question here not trying to start massive debates or arguments.

maggievirgo Mon 03-Aug-09 10:16:35

Ithink it's a big MN obsession. I take my two, they have a good time, I have a coffee, we come home. NObody dies, they don't get crushed, or crush anybody. Seriously. SO many upstight whingers on MN these days. Can hardly believe it.

Picante Mon 03-Aug-09 10:16:35

I think they can be great during term time when they are nice and quiet. I just hate going when it's full with bigger children who invariably end up knocking over ds.

pointydog Mon 03-Aug-09 10:16:37

They are not bad. Some people can't stand the noise, teh grubbiness, teh crap food and the mild stress of sorting out skirmishes, that's all.

DidEinsteinsMum Mon 03-Aug-09 10:17:52

i like soft play but ds had moved on to play centers which are less soft and squisshy. It was always a good way to run some energy off a hyperactivite child IMO. particularly when they are 1. prone to running away (so park out) 2. it is raining.

maggievirgo Mon 03-Aug-09 10:18:54

oh to answer your question,I thnk it's a bandwagon thing.

People are sheep, they absorb the idea that soft play centres are for common people, and that they must vote liberal pay
more for organic food and oh, what are they saying we should boycott next, soft play centres.

baaaaa baaaa

maggievirgo Mon 03-Aug-09 10:19:56

My two squirmish far more agressively with each other than they ever would with a stranger. Home-squirmishing far worse.

TeaMonster Mon 03-Aug-09 10:20:34

I love soft play centres, espeically when it is raining or really hot.

I have two energetic boys and I get peace, real peace. A book, coffee and quiet time. They play together and also make new friends.

I take my neice too. I only get angsty when someone shouts at them like last week - a lady had her crawling baby in an area where they were biulding with big blocks and told them to move.

EyeballsintheSky Mon 03-Aug-09 10:20:42

I just remember taking mindees to them about 10 years ago. Noisy, grubby and crap summed it up. But if I can find a decent one, and if I ever get my car back then I would take dd as she needs a good run around at that sort of thing.

pointydog Mon 03-Aug-09 10:24:46

squirmish sounds fab!

maggievirgo Mon 03-Aug-09 10:27:42

You know those guys that stand on the high street in combat gear giving out fliers for paintball skirmishing!? what's the age requirement there!? over 12?

is 4 and 7 too young!? i bet it is, but my two would love that. soft play just not really giving them the thrills they now need, nor I, if I pay out ?£ i need them to bloody seriously properly enjoy themselves. Not just say, yeah that was ok, what'll we do tomorrow.

flockwallpaper Mon 03-Aug-09 10:27:50

The one near me is fine for a rainy day, but maybe they vary in quality? Anything that gives children some physical activity is a good thing IMHO.

Gateau Mon 03-Aug-09 10:31:47

They're fine for rainy days only, IMO - and DS loves them, but I do find them expensive, grubby and potentially germ ridden. Wouldn't want to take DS while the swine flu is prevalent, that's for sure.
Don't understand why people use them when their children could be doing much the same thing outside in the fresh air.

Fairynufff Mon 03-Aug-09 10:32:21

In all the time my 3 ever went to soft play centres it was full of the 'book, coffee and quiet time' type parents. Those who basically let their children off the leash and didn't look up to see who they were battering, endangering and generally causing a nuisance to. I watched my children constantly, often having to rescue them from other kids, or being trapped in the slide because children were throwing the balls up...

To add to that, they always smell faintly of urine, sweat and dead skin. The coffee is undrinkably awful and you always ending fighting with your kids because they never want to leave.

What's not to love?

pointydog Mon 03-Aug-09 10:34:50

paintballs are sore.

Have you taken them to laserquest, maggie?

MrsBadger Mon 03-Aug-09 10:35:26

my local one is manky so I use it as a last resort only - it's the noise that gets me. And the fact that I feel like I have Paid For Fun so Fun Must Be Had even if dd isn;t so sure.

luckily my park is a) good b) fenced and c) near Costa

going swimming is cheaper and better value tbh, though less coffee involved.

muffle Mon 03-Aug-09 10:35:28

I wouldn't want to go all the time, but I think they're great for getting exercise on a horrible day (and I'm in scotland so we get a lot of rain). Experiences do vary obviously - the best is a nice big soft play with good coffee and snacks, on a weekday in term time. When crowded and filled with school-age kids, they can be a bit rough for DS.

Also if you are knackered, pg or have a young baby it is a great way to keep your older child occupied while you have a sit down.

I would have loved soft play if it had been invented when I was little.

PortBlacksandResident Mon 03-Aug-09 10:36:08

It's nothing to do with thinking they're common or being on a bandwagon.

I've never been to one where the coffee has been decent, the toilets clean, the balls bit doesn't smell of wee (DSs friend went to a party at one a couple of years ago and they all came out the balls covered in poo <boak>), the food is not overpriced and it's quiet enough to concentrate on a book whilst making sure some kid a couple of years older than yours isn't twatting the life out of them.

Oh, and it's full of other people's children.

nigglewiggle Mon 03-Aug-09 10:36:55

They vary massively in my experience. Some near me are great. They are clean, well run and have lots for babies and big children. DD's enjoy it and so do I. At the bottom end of the scale are the grubby ones that are poorly run and attract feckless parents who just ignore their children.

If you only have experience of the latter then I can understand why you would hate them!

nancy75 Mon 03-Aug-09 10:37:01

dd is ill, without fail everytime we go to soft play near us. we dont go anymore as i cant cope with the vomity washing pile!

MamaG Mon 03-Aug-09 10:39:44

It all depends on the soft play area.

I used to go to one that was MANKY - really long thin building, so you sat at one end while your DC disappeared into a grubby multicoloured mess, to be heard shrieking at some point, then you paced up and down the side like a caged lion.

A new one has been built in my little town, its fab. Big, clean, airy building, can see the children at all times wherever they are and it is immaculate, it relaly is.

Sells "proper" coffee, panini, home made cakes etc

Its a treat for all of us to go (except DH who would rather gouge out his own eyeballs)

sleepwhenidie Mon 03-Aug-09 10:40:24

I think that they are a godsend on rainy days. They do vary massively in quality though - I have been to some with no windows, where it is boiling hot, really noisy with horrible drinks/food and it feels worn and grubby and they are just vile places to be, so I could understand people being snooty about them. Luckily our closest (council subsidised) one is relatively pleasant, with daylight, a fantastic cafe (food good quality and amazing value, removes the point of going home to make dinner for DC's so always a bonus!) and easy to keep some kind of idea of where DC's are as it is quite open to view and not too huge. Still wouldn't choose it over the park on a dry day though!

TeaMonster Mon 03-Aug-09 10:45:58

Thanks for the dig Fairynuff

Although I take a book and have a coffee, they are quite well behaved children and I keep an eye out for them and make sure that they do not hurt anyone.

I encourage independant play at the soft play. it is a pretty safe environment and the staff are quick to use their wistles and stop anyone who isnt doing as they should.

I want my children to learn to co-operate and play with other children. It isnt a perfect world and neither are playcentres a perfect place, but I dont feel the need to constantly watch over them.

The two we use are very clean, one is in a church hall, well supervised and you can leave them too it ususally.

My two boys tend to come back to me every 5 mins or so for a drink and a chat anyway.

Gateau Mon 03-Aug-09 10:55:16

Not sure why people are getting so defensive about soft play centres. Surely you like them or you don't; what's the problem?
I don't like them for the reasons I stated above, so it's not anything to do with following the herd. But I do take DS to them on the odd relentlessly rainy day because he needs exercise and he loves them!

5Foot5 Mon 03-Aug-09 10:56:44

When DD was small she used to get invited to loads of parties at soft play areas.

One of the worse things I though was that there were always kids in there who looked to be far too big, but they managed to get in because the people in charge were not much more than kids themselves and didn't have the confidence to turn them or their parents away. It was attached to a large pub that did meals so it seemed quite common for some families to order themselves a meal and a drink, get rid of the kids in the soft play area then sit and enjoy themselves in peace. Of course they were not supervising their kids so they could just run amok unless other parents stopped them from squashing the little ones.

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