Soft Play Centres- Written by Taz Coates our guest blogger of the month.

This month we introduce our Guest Blogger, Taz. Taz is a well experienced nanny in the Cambridge area, here she shares her thoughts on Soft Play Centres.

Soft play centres

As a nanny when the weather is bad, I consider these places as a god send, and let’s face it; it’s pretty rubbish most of the year in the UK. As much as I love the outdoors, being stuck inside in your boss’s house on a rainy day can make me want to pull my hair out; there’s only so much ‘art and craft, storytelling’ one can do! Going to a soft play for a play date can come as sanity aid.

However, I do have some views (some not so positive) on them that I wish to share.

As a nanny based in Cambridge there’s always a soft play centre within a 10 mile radius. Each one is easy to get to with ample parking. Whenever the mood strikes me and I decide to take my charges to a soft play centre I automatically make their pack lunch. I do get ‘kitty money’ so buying their lunch there isn’t an issue, all though I do like to save some kitty money by taking our own packed lunch. Majority of places don’t like you doing this, (but some just turn a blind eye which I prefer) which I can understand as they wouldn’t make any money but there’s a couple of place in Cambridge where I do get away with it. Especially if I buy my own lunch there or a coffee and a slice of cake.

I like that some are purpose built – BUT there are a couple that are really run down I feel like I need a wash when I leave. One place in particular where I will not go anymore is funky fun house off Newmarket road. If you’re a parent/childcare I think you’ll know EXACTLY what I mean. Lack of staff in busy periods-I’ve waited up to and over an hour for food with hungry children, disgusting dirty toilets that haven’t been checked and regularly cleaned, the floor when you walk on it you stick to, the roof looks like it could collapsed at any time, and I swear the toys and equipment isn’t regularly cleaned. It’s what makes to be a very unpleasant and filthy experience. I can’t actually remember the last time I went there, but I’ve heard from fellow nannies and friends with children that’s got a lot worse.

Surely finances can’t be that bad to be able to put some money into giving it a bit of a refurb and a CLEAN?! It defiantly needs it!
Surly closing for half a day or a day maybe for a clean.

Going back to food, as a nation we are becoming increasingly aware of healthy eating choices. “Making better choices” “cut down on your portions” “eat a little less and move a little more” is what we hear from every outlet. Whereas a lot of us are starting to take this on board, I do feel that soft play centres are a bit slower on the uptake. We all know a child would much prefer a chicken dipper rather than some carrots sticks, and unfortunately our children our being exposed to this in society on a daily basis. As parents/childcares it is our responsibility to ensure they get a healthy and balanced diet.

This is not the case in a lot of soft play centres where chips, burgers, sausages are the main attractions on the menu. Don’t get me wrong here; there are some that have brought in the healthier options I.e. carrot/cucumber sticks, hummus, pita breads, and fruit. Then there’s your hot food, which is usually your jacket potatoes, spag bols and so on, but you never know what goes into them-the amount of salt and sugars, and oils etc. It can be quite tricky to keep track of what your child eats when eating out in these places but I do think they need to step it up a gear by listing all the ingredients in what goes into every cooked meal. This would be very helpful for childcares to make their own decision on what to buy.
Overall soft play centres are a really good thing, but like with most things in life, there’s always room for improvement and a little tweaking here and there never hurt nobody!

That’s all for now.