Whenever I am in the company of small children, I marvel at the thought that I was once one of them.
Not because of their diminutive size or their unwavering willingness to eat dirt and anything else they may find on the floor, but because they are impossibly energetic. Kids expend more energy before breakfast than I can muster in an entire day. So the big challenge of parenthood becomes channeling all of that energy.
Fortunately, some resourceful person, a parent no doubt, invented soft play – indoor playgrounds in which the equipment is swaddled in padded foam so children can run, jump, and climb to their hearts’ content, in an environment designed for safety. Parents can take a wee break, put down their guard a bit and just watch the calories get burned, often with a good cup of coffee in hand. In and around Aberdeen, there are plenty of soft play areas to choose from.
In town, there are a few firm favourites. Wynford Farm, in Kingswells, features an expansive indoor play barn as well as an animal park where you can observe, pet and learn about some fascinating critters. The Den and the Glen in Maryculter, formerly Storybook Glen, invites you to discover some of your favourite fairy-tale characters in the Glen, or run wild in the all-weather Den, complete with its own climbing wall and sports arena. If you have a mix of older and younger children to amuse, Jump In Trampoline Park on Craigshaw Road has something for all ages, including a dedicated jump and soft play area for the little ones.
Outside of town, there are also plenty of options. In Stonehaven, Scallywags provides pirate-themed fun alongside a café that has been known to attract adults with no children to entertain at all. In Alford, Tick Tock Play has divided its activity area into three distinct sections, each dedicated to a specific age range. Further north in Boddam, Loopty Lou’s is an enormous indoor centre, featuring everything from an astroturf football pitch to a brightly coloured dining area where parents can enjoy a snack and still keep an eye on all of the action. The award-winning Hoodles, just by Oldmeldrum, continually adds to its play areas and offers an excellent café for kids and grown-ups alike. The fully-enclosed playbarn features a large modern playframe, ball swing and two slides perfect for children aged 2 – 12 and adults can play too! Supervised under two’s have their own area. Outside, the courtyard offers the chance to run riot and, from March to October – weather permitting – the paddock’s trampolines, swings, football pitch, jelly belly, pedal go-karts and track, grass slide and a Flying Fox offer endless fun, while parents relax at a nearby picnic table with a treat or two.
When you have children in your care, the priorities are really quite simple – keep them safe and happy, fuel them with good food and, by all means, tire them out if you want them to sleep at night. Thanks to the popularity of soft play centres, you are never far from a place where you can do all of those things under one roof!