6 January 2023
We all know that children tend to love the brightly-coloured soft play areas that seem to have opened up everywhere over the last couple of decades but what is the enduring appeal for parents?
Soft play areas can be great places to get some time to catch up with other friends who are parents as well. As most soft play areas will have a café area in order to make the most of the fact the parents will be staying for the duration, it means that coffee and food can be consumed in good company and news and gossip exchanged. This allows the parents to keep an eye on the kids while getting some much-needed adult conversation as well.
This level of social interaction can act as a vital outlet for some parents, particularly in the early years, if they feel like they are struggling a bit and just need a friendly ear and some support. Soft play areas can offer the distraction that the children need in order to let the adults have a chat about the things they need to, in the knowledge that the kids are relatively safe.
One of the best things about soft play areas from an adult perspective is that they are soft and padded and if your child happens to fall over, the chance of any serious injury is very small. Sure, there is the off-chance that they may fall when climbing up a ladder to an upper platform but the layout and design of soft play areas tends to mitigate the worst of the effects from accidents.
Soft play centres are replete with padded surfaces and children can be surprisingly resilient. They might have a small cry then be up and off again to play as the excitement overcomes any pain that they have.
Allowing them to run around with other children broadly the same age is good in terms of social development and allows them to begin to experiment with their independence, while you are still able to intervene if it becomes necessary.
Soft play areas will often run age-specific times and classes so that smaller children aren’t overrun with larger more physically developed children and can take the time to explore their new environments and the facilities without feeling rushed, intimidated or pushed aside.
These classes can certainly help parents to breathe a little more easily as they know their child will be around others from their own age group. This also makes it a lot easier to meet like-minded parents of similarly-aged children who will be there as well during the classes.
Soft play centres took quite a hard hit during lockdown because of the unfortunately unavoidable severity of the restrictions, and many of them that closed their doors won't be reopening, so if you do have a good one near where you live, please be sure to support it if you can. You will be doing your whole community a favour by protecting a valuable space for new parents.