Not so family friendly..

Sometimes, usually if there’s some football on if truth be told I take the kids out for lunch to a pub not far from our house. The food is always nice, pretty cheap and cheerful and most importantly despite living in Manchester the staff who work there will always put the Hull City matches on for that poor sad family who come in their shirts, totally unashamedly!

I would call it a family friendly place. The kids menu is quite extensive, more than just the chicken nuggets or sausage choices a lot of places do. There’s a kids play area outside, and they have highchairs. This all gives me the impression they are welcoming families with open arms. The staff I’ve seen always have a word for any kids I’ve seen them bring in food to. It’s the perfect place to think “balls to it, I’m not cooking let’s go out”

Today only teen boy the younger and I were home so we decided to go for lunch. We were sat on a table between two other families. There was football on so I had lost my son to the beautiful game and all there is then left to do is people watch /be nosy. One table had 3 kids I’d guess all under 5 which I of course can relate to out for dinner with mum and dad. They were so well behaved, they were just doing the usual kid thing of messing about at the table waiting for their food impatient as kids are, but sat at the table not being crazy noisy or running about like mad things. I was getting all nostalgic thinking aaaaw remember when that would have been the teens and I when they were little and thinking how well behaved these little kids here were now. I kept catching the odd “shhh people are trying to eat” from mum and I remembered also being that person, over aware of not disturbing people. Then just as they were going to leave I overhead the mum tell the dad, through gritted teeth, we are never doing this again.

Then the nostalgia was replaced. With that horrid memory of being so panicky and worried that other people were judging me if the kids made the tiniest noise or messed about. That fear of being judged was huge, to the point I’d be so stressed I’d lose my appetite and just want to get out and go home. Just how the mum was in the pub today, despite the fact her kids were disturbing no-one.

At another table a mum with a couple of kids was meeting someone, possibly her mum who was berating her for letting the kids bring their Ipads. So she was there looking all guilty and I bet she didn’t enjoy her dinner with all the stress either.

It just made me think. What’s the point in family friendly pubs and restaurants if we can’t just give ourselves a bit of a break.

I have always taken the kids out to eat, and I think it’s a good skill for them to learn how to eat out nicely. It seems to have worked.

So maybe just give yourselves a break if you’re out at a family friendly place. Your kids aren’t running about tripping up waitresses or chucking pasta at the elderly gentleman sat on the next table. They’re just learning. You want to fetch the Ipads so you can eat in peace do so, you’re paying for the treat of not having to cook or wash up.

If the kids are getting unsettled and bored sat and waiting that’s just something they have to learn. No one is judging you.

More importantly though,if you’re one of the people tutting and shaking your head at families daring to leave their house (I once had a couple move because I sat down next to them with the kids – saying loudly “let’s move I’m not sitting with kids they’ll be noisy and messy” this was in Morrisons cafe by the way, we hadn’t stumbled into the Ritz) to eat, and then maybe just think. A giggling child or a dropped fork isn’t the end of the world and you are contributing towards us parents feeling unwelcome in even the most child friendly of places.

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The Pramshed
Me, Being Mummy
One Messy Mama
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48 thoughts on “Not so family friendly..

  1. So, so true and so beautifully written. I will never forget some of those early meals, and reflecting now on how much were people actually tut-tutting and how much was in our heads, as parents, my wife and I. I remember one particularly fraught occasion when my wife, after a lull in proceedings, turned and asked me “how is your chicken?” and I answered, “I have no idea, I lost the will to live about ten minutes ago ..” #GlobalBlogging

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    1. Ha ha aaaaw yeah I think once you’ve been on the receiving end of ‘the look’ or a sigh or a tut then that’s it, you’re paranoid for the long haul!

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  2. My mummy always likes to treat me to dinner out and it’s good practice. We went to a Steak & Miller restaurant full of older people and I was super behaved yet they still looked and judged. You can’t win sometimes x #GlobalBlogging #FamilyFunLinky

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  3. I regularly go out with my girls. Most of the time, they are good, but there’s a lot of us, so we always get a couple of looks. I usually just smile back, when I notice.

    When I see another mom looking stressed out like that, I try to make a point to compliment them. We moms need to support each other!

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  4. This is such a good read Kelly. You know what, I am that mum now. I’ve said things like ‘we are never coming again’s so often, then I’ve gone home and spent the next two days worrying about the girls making too much noise! I’m so glad I read this xx

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  5. I’ve been there, constantly shushing the kids when they were getting overexcited and worrying what other people were thinking, although they’ve always been pretty good really. I must say, I have never resorted to iPads at dinner. We have taken colouring or games but we have a rule of no devices at the table and that stands whether at home or out for dinner.

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  6. Powerful post that will hopefully make people think. I now live in a very family-friendly place where children are valued and I am so pleased about that. I stopped going to church when the parishoners used to tut at my toddler who was doing nothing wrong except being a toddler. And yes I always worried too much! #HoneyBeeLinky

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  7. my wife was always afraid to take my daughter anywhere when she was little, she was a bit of a hellion, throwing crayons at other diners and such, but I always just said screw it. She grew out of it and now one of her favorite things to do is to go out to eat #familyfun

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  8. I’m the reverse on this. I’m against family friendly places, as I think children need to learn to be restaurant friendly, and the only way they learn is practice. There are easy choices – yum cha and pubs, but still bring the restaurant rules to the table. That said, we always went to normal restaurants, even high end ones, when the kids were little, so they were pretty good – and as it is, half their chosen holiday activities were to eat lunch out these holidays. Wins all round! #Globalblogging

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    1. That’s a total win. I take what you say ,my almost 10 year old is obsessed with cooking shows ,Masterchef and the like and I mean noooo obsessed. Her birthday treat choice was that she wants to go to a ‘fancy restaurant’. Though I know her table manners are impeccable I’m not sure a ‘fancy restaurant would welcome a 10 yr old!!!

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      1. A good one will. Guy Savoy bistro in Paris bent over backwards to take us (and I kept thinking ‘don’t you see the 5 year old and the toddler???’.) There’s this really fancy one in Bali and they came and got the kids and took them into the kitchen to make cookies while we had dinner – that was AMAZING (Cuca people, is SOOOO fabulous – they travel the globe a bit on invitation so def go if you have the chance) #fortheloveofBLOG

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  9. Great post! I remember being at that stage. It is so hard and I have been told that I would have to leave if my kid did not quite down when he wasn’t making much noise before.

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  10. Oooh I am there now. I have a two and three year old and eating out has been I thing of contention for years. It is getting better and we don’t not do it, but equally it can be stressful. We have perhaps altered the restaurants we eat in with the kids to more family friendly establishments but like you say I won’t notvesg out. It is hard though, really hard to actually enjoy it from start to finish. I know I’d never judge anyone eating out with kids! Thanks for joining us at #familyfun

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  11. Totally agree with you. I often used to feel super stressed when we ate out with the kids but I try not to let that, or judgy looks affect me. Our kids are learning new life skills and sometimes it’s a bit messy and noisy, who cares! Tough though when you’re being looked at like you just brought a bag of sh*t into the restaurant! Hahaha! #honeybeelinky

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  12. I’ve found that the rougher the establishment, the more relaxing it is to eat there with small children! No one will judge you in a McDonalds! Sadly, the treat of a fancy restaurant isn’t worth the hassle unless it’s a date night.

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  13. I had a bad experience with a customer who thought my child was being too loud even though the only thing he was doing was making quite train noises because the restaurant had a train display and he was watching the train. I also happened to have lost a family member that day and was in no mood to deal with ignorant people. So I yelled at him. I also believe that children need the experience of eating out so that they learn the skills to know when to behave and settle. Nowadays, most restaurants I go to have devices that keep kids busy while we are waiting for our food. My favorite place to go with the kids is Applebys and they love the food there.It’s a shame the mom thought her kids were being too loud when they weren’t. It really puts parents on edge thinking they or their children are being judged just for daring to eat out. #ABloggingGoodTime

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  14. This is very true. Mum anxiety has made me worry about so many things that thinking back on it now with a bit of experience – were perfectly normal. It’s so hard sometimes. I hope that mum can get a bit of help and look back on the experience and realize that her perceptions were skewed, take her family out to eat again and have a lovely time.

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  15. I love this post! I remember the feeling of trying to get your kids to behave impeccably for fear of someone’s comment or disapproval when really it certainly doesn’t need to be that way in a family friendly place and besides they weren’t running amock!. It should be about relaxing and treating yourselves. I will definitely think of this post next time I take my little one’s out for food. Great post. Thank you for linking up to the #itsok linky.

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  16. This was totally me! I now realise that my children weren’t that bad and I need to stop worrying. I also have less ipad guilt. There is no point going out if you and your partner can’t even have one uninterrupted conversation!

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  17. I really like your post Kelly and I agree with you 100%. I think we do have a tendency in the UK to be a bit judgmental about how other parents deal with their kids in public and people are not always very inclusive. We all need to chill out sometimes and one thing is when a child is behaving badly, but I don’t get what is wrong with children just being children. Kids aren’t there so we can just display their good behaviour so that people can think we are model parents!

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  18. This is so true to read and I completely agree with you. I regularly take my daughter out and I really don’t care what people think. I’ve always been of the mindset that once you have children, you should carry on doing with you enjoy. Plus it is teaching them vital skills as well, and gives them an opportunity to try new foods too. An iPad always comes in handy as well, and I wouldn’t worry too much about using one. Thanks so much about linking up at #fortheloveofBLOG. Claire x

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  19. We have always brought our kids out when we head out for a meal, but we have realised some hacks, like not feed them snacks before so they are actually hungry when we get to the restaurant and will sit calmly for half an hour. We also realised that it the restaurant gives them some kid friendly activity sheets, they also stay quite for 10-15 min, while we wait for our food.

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  20. We have always taken ours out as well, like you I love watching others remember when mine were that little and always try to smile at the parents, or if the parents say anything I just say its fine I have been there before.

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  21. I have three children 7 and under and we do still dine out and get annoyed when people may stare or look if my children are being a little noisy ! They are so well behaved! it is nice when people comment saying how good they are too!

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