When I returned from a weekend away with Gavin, Mum and Dad surprised us with a monthly membership for Reuben at Funky Monkeys Soft Play! I wasn’t sure what to think – they said he had loved it so much that they just could not resist and that it would be good for the two of us.
I was a little reluctant (though didn’t want to be ungrateful) as I have really struggled to take Reuben ANYWHERE like that on my own, thanks to PND –
“I have hidden behind the buggy, walking the pavements, roads and Greenway, for months on end, afraid to slow down or stop. I have avoided ‘Mums and Tots’, playgroups, Rhythm and Rhyme, soft play, play parks or making any new mum friends, for fear that I will be ‘found out’. That others will see me as I see myself – not really a true mum. That they will work out that I have failed to manage the most natural of things- birth and breast feeding – which in my mind are the first ‘mum tests’. I have been terrified that everything I felt internally would emerge externally, and I would be left even more ashamed and alone.”
But they assured me it was such good fun for him that I decided to be brave and face another fear head on. I soon became a ‘convert’… in fact I now LOVE it. Our membership ensures that we are there at least twice a week, here’s why:
- Reuben gets to burn off some of that endless energy 3 year olds seem to have in abundance. And I don’t have to run after him every second while he does it!
- He’s such a sociable little thing who every time, without fail, makes friend or two to play with! It’s great to see him being able socialise with others and his confidence inspires me.
- We are members of the Dundonald Branch and it’s fab – the staff are excellent and so friendly. The place is safe, very well maintained and clean. Exactly what you want from a soft play facility.
- They are strict about age and height limits – this means that older kids can’t run riot and rings around the little ones. That’s really important.
- They have WiFi, so I can bring my computer and work on my website while he plays – the best of both worlds for us! In fact today, as I write, I am watching him play in the ‘kitchen’ area while making me some make-believe cups of tea!
- The cafe is great and serve lots of different options, including hot food for lunch. We are big fans of the morning toast and jug of juice – only 99p!
- The membership is also really good value – especially as we are regular visitors – it’s £12 a month, if you are interested find out more here – http://funkymonkeys.co/our-centres/
- They also run special events – today we are waiting for the activity to begin…making rice krispie buns!
But more than all of those things, which I guess are practical, it’s been good for me mental health wise as I recover from PND:
- I have found confidence in being around other parents and feeling comfortable in my own skin, as Reuben’s mum.
- Quite often I end up having a chat with another mum – about nothing really but just enjoying a few moments peace while our little ones play. It feels good!
- But other days I don’t interact at all – it’s not like you have to. It’s not an organised event so no-one thinks any less if you don’t speak to another soul and sit quietly with a cup of tea. Many days, when I have been struggling, I have done just that. It’s good as we are out of the house and are not hiding away just because I am feeling pants, but I can just take a wee hour of semi “me time” (as much as you can get with a 3-year-old in tow) and still be doing an activity with Reuben.
- Parents are encouraged to go on the frames with the kids – both Gavin and I have had a turn down the big slides – which is actually good fun and Reuben’s face is priceless!
- It’s also reminded me that ALL kids are very similar, where behaviour is concerned. They all have good days and bad days – ups and downs. It not a reflection of my ability to parent, or anyone else’s. I see other parents struggle with temper tantrums, bumps and scrapes and refusal to put shoes on to go home. We are all in this together and learning that has even been key for me!
Yes, yes, I hear you! It can’t all be perfect right? Well, no, nothing ever is. So some days it’s busy and noisy, some kids are naughty (mine included!) but honestly where do you take your children that some of that isn’t the case!? It’s no reflection on the place itself.
My only complaint is this – they now do Gluten Free Milk Chocolate Button Brownies – seriously?! They happen to be yummy which makes it even harder for me to resist. So to be fair, it’s really only my waist line that has any thing to take issue with!!!
So, here’s the truth, even with PND, Reuben and I have been finding lots of fun at soft play and I can 100% recommend Funky Monkeys to any parent looking for some fun with their wee one!