"The one place I hate, my kids will make me go these school holidays."

Just thinking about going, makes me tremble with fear.

School holidays already? I feel like it was just Christmas. It seems the minute you put the tree away the house is suddenly littered with shiny, foil wrappers from the Easter Egg hunt. 

April school holidays are often a soggy two weeks so there is a lot of time to fill.

In between work commitments, I am squeezing in some time with my kids and like many of you I have grand, lofty plans.

Educational trips to the museum… nature walks… tennis tournaments at the local free courts… days at the library exploring the classics, oh and visions of bike rides to the local café where we will bond over hot chocolates and blueberry muffins.

The truth is I have three young kids and a bonding trip to the local café is usually an agonising ordeal with tantrums and tears. The library lasts about three minutes unless story time is on and the museum is expensive... and they have that damn gift shop... Muuuuummmm please can I have one, please please please...

The fact is that as much as I vow not to, as often as I swear never again, as much as I criticise and disparage soft play centres I will probably end up at one at some stage over the next few weeks.

"I hate them, but I will be there..."

I admit I am a hypocrite. I hate the bloody places. They are hot and noisy and dirty and pricey.

But my kids just love them.

Truth be told, I am a little scared of the places, so many characters, so many experiences, so many noisy, screaming, demanding children hyped up on bottles of artificial juice.

The scary kids, the judgemental mothers. Oh why do I go?

I am exhausted just thinking about it and a little bit terrified. Here's what makes me shiver:

The judgemental mum.

Yes, I am on my phone while my kids run riot. I can see your gaze as I stuff them full of hot chips and juice. I know you don’t approve, but I don’t really give stuff. Happy kids. Happy Mum.

The working mothers.

Often the main target of the judgemental Mum. We seek out playcentres for the WIFI and the entertainment. Our laptop is carted around as we chase snooty noses and wayward pre-schoolers. We ARE focused on our kids, but we are just trying to squeeze in a bit of work at the same time.

Holiday care is tricky you know.

The nonchalant nanny.

You can see which kids are theirs... Yah I will get to him, they indicate, once I finish this Skype call back home.


The secret explosions behind the ball pit.

You know it's there. Hiding in wait for that moment when your child starts crying right at the back of the vast sea of coloured balls. They want you, and they want you NOW.

As you wade slowly through the bright bubbles (think happy thoughts) you feel the soft squelch and without a doubt you will know. It got you again.

Hand sanitizer anyone?

The kid that hits.

Oh I am not judging him. I’ve been the horrified mother the hitter before.

We try to watch them, we tell them their boundaries, we tell them not to, but at two or three years of age it's hard to get the message through.

We are so terribly, terribly, sorry and we apologise and tell our child they mustn’t but I want you to know that it is as awful for us as it is for you. Your child will grow out of it. Mine did. But until then stay strong and use the word sorry a lot. Other mums like that.

The kids that wants to talk to you rather than play on the equipment.

See that super curly slide over there? Made just for a five-year old girl? Why not give it a try? It is MUCH more interesting than asking me questions all day.

Go on you know you want to..

Oh you would rather stand here and talk. Terrific. Just what I was hoping for with my magazine and cup of coffee.

The thumping dizzy headache.

Did I mention the noise of these places?

The fun parent.

There is always one. You put the rest of us playing sudoko on our phones to shame. You are busted by the management for jumping on the bouncy castle. The kids take turns going down the slide on your lap. You organise a mass game of hide and seek. I want to be you, but right now I am just a little too tired. So thanks.

The wildly overexcited yet totally satisfied kids.

Hyped up on sugar – check.

One bruised knee – check.

Two pairs of lost socks – check

An empty wallet – check.

A result (well kinda). Now go home and have a glass of wine. You deserve it after all that hard work.

What do you think of indoor playcentres? Love them or loathe them?

Want more? Try these:

This is why indoor playcentres need hygiene standards?

It’s the dirtiest thing your children play with and there is nothing regulating its hygiene standards.

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