Soft play. How I love to hate them. Full of unparented, wild children. Germs galore. But a lifeline on those days when you can’t face doing anything else. When your toddler wants to climb and throw himself off the furniture. When your patience is hanging by a thread and you don’t know how many more times you can be clambered over. How on earth are we to survive a winter without soft play?
A long, hard winter
That’s what we’re in for. I don’t think there can be many parents that haven’t had this thought. “Going for a walk” isn’t always the answer. I love being outdoors, exploring, finding new places and new puddles.
But no matter how good your wet weather gear, there’s not much fun to be had in the driving rain with or without a toddler in tow. And to be quite honest, we have done ‘going for a walk’ to DEATH over the last 6 months.
So what to do?
I don’t want to be buying loads of toys or going on any excursions. To be honest, very few are enjoyable when you’re corralling a toddler into following social distancing rules. Honestly, I think some days are going to go on for years (just like those days back in March seemed to).
I’ve been desperately racking my brains, and raking up the things we did when lockdown first came along.
Here are a few of my ideas
Home made soft play
Throwing a load of duvets, blankets, cushions, pillows and soft toys into a pile can make for a reasonably entertaining soft play. It’s probably not my favourite activity and it’s not as good as real soft play, but it’s not as bad as the real thing either!!
I know it makes mess, but it does entertain little ones and gives them a break from playing with the same toys in the same way.
Cheap and readily accessible materials work well, such as flour, porridge oats, shredded paper, jelly and yoghurt work well, and except for paper, are all safe if your little one is as keen on tasting the activity as mine is.
Defer to another mum!
In this case, I don’t mean me. Five minute mum has a whole website crammed with ideas. They take five minutes to set up and as little as 5 minutes to play. Some of the things we’ve done, either directly from the blog or inspired by her ideas and adapted to suit my toddler’s ability, include:
- Hiding peg puzzle pieces round the room for him to retrieve and put into the puzzle
- Sorting clothes pegs out into colours
- Sorting the snack cupboard out by snack type (admittedly slightly risky)
- Wrapping his toys and books in packing paper for him to enjoy unwrapping
- Fastening and unfastening buckles, on his high chair and reins
- Matching socks… if they’re different enough to be recognisable as pairs
- Throwing balled socks into the washing basket
- Having a bath- for the fun of it!
On we go
I’m not sure how this winter is going to go. It’s barely started and I’m scrabbling for ideas. Whatever happens, we’ll get through it. I’m just hoping we get through it in the best way we can and that we still have fun as a family.