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.