Slides, ball pits and crawly tunnels big enough for adults to play in. How much fun is that?
Then I had kids. I became too old overnight to find the curly wurly slide entertaining, and instead harboured dreams of sipping cappucinos while the children merrily exhausted themselves.
With my first born, trips to soft play were summarised in feelings of guilt and shame, and fear, as I ran round after a slap happy toddler who seemed set on being "that child". When he was small, I was always afraid to leave him in case "bigger boys came", so I would traipse around after him.
Give or take a few years, and he is one of the "bigger boys". Oh the shame.
With my second born, I had all of the above, but I also had to keep him from dashing into the bigger kids area with his older brother, and getting stuck on a rope ladder, or at the top of the big curly wurly slide.
Today, however, we braved the outside and headed for soft play to meet with friends. For the first time ever, I had an enjoyable soft play experience. No one came out bleeding, vomiting or in tears, and both are now big enough to manage the rope ladders and curly wurly slide unaided.
I got to sit and drink coffee and have a good old catch up. It was one of those afternoons where I felt the rare sensation of "Yes, this is what I thought parenthood would be like."
I also came home and the kids fell straight asleep after tea, meaning I now get to relax with a cup of tea and a biscuit. Win win.