aka The Parental Appeal of Soft Play

4 Years, 3 Weeks & 1 Day into Daddyhood


The soft play centre. Anathema to the non-parent. Screaming kids, bright lights, flying plastic balls. When did they become places we not only tolerate but actively seek out?

I write as I sit in Loggans Moor, the Brewers Fayre pub across the road from the Hayle Travelodge, where we are staying for a couple of nights during our holiday in Cornwall. We’ve just had 2 x fish & chips for a tenner and our eyes lit up when we saw there was a soft play area attached to the restaurant. That’ll give us a bit of peace – we thought.

And I had one of those moments I sometimes have when I well and truly remember that I am a parent.

My values have changed. My tolerances have shifted. My relative degrees of comfort have moved into a completely different zone.

I find peace amidst chaos, where I am not having to instigate or participate in the chaos, but can observe from a slight distance while supping on a Diet Coke. Recently at Chilly Kiddys I even managed to read a few pages of my book!

Speaking of which, one of the two books I am now reading is Ritalin Nation by Richard De Grandpre, which speaks amongst other things about how continued exposure high stimulation raises one’s tolerance to that stimulation. I suppose that’s what it’s about. The constant barrage of screams is, to me, like the gentle lapping of waves on a quiet beach. That’s not to say that my ears wouldn’t now appreciate the gentle lapping of waves on a quiet beach…