Sunday, 7 December 2014

Adult only spaces- Yes or No?

I love children - well obviously - I had seven of them. But actually, I should maybe temper that. I love MY children and to be perfectly honest could often happily do without the company of other people's offspring.

So in answer to the question posed by the Post40bloggers wiring prompts feature this week, "Should there be adult only spaces?" I am afraid the answer is a big fat YES!

Mostly I would apply this to establishments serving any form of refreshments.

I recently met a friend with a small child in a toddler-friendly cafe. Her daughter is adorable and there was lots for her to do including biscuit decorating and toys and books to occupy her. She hurtled about and no-one minded. What a great idea - I wish they'd had these cafes when my children were small.
I don't mind taking this one of my children out for coffee. 
He doesn't fit in 
a highchair any more &
 he usually

 buys my latte for me!



But I would not go there without children. When I fancy an overpriced over sweetened latte I want to savour it, drink it slowly in peace with maybe just a book for company. I do not want to endure racing toddlers banging past my table, hear an exhausted mum begging Tarquin to not stir his babyccino with the iPhone she is trying to distract him with, do not want to  battle my way past buggies and abandoned lumps of banana to get to the counter.

I know this sounds really selfish but I've done my time. I have propped my overloaded pushchair in the space by the door and lugged a heavy squirming baby and trail of children across to the furthest table with a badly designed highchair apologising to everyone who gets kicked in the face in the meantime.

 I have swigged cold cappuccino, eaten cold pizza and surrendered my lunch which apparently looks more interesting than the meal the child ordered. I have been that red faced and sweaty mother after sorting out food, drink and activities for the children. I have earned my peace and quiet.

Restaurants can be a minefield too. I was in one of the big chains of family restaurants at about 1pm recently for a quick mid-shopping lunch with DH. Child-free as it happened. We heard another couple complaining to the waitress that the children at the next table were noisy and disruptive. I had no sympathy. If you will go to that type of restaurant in the daytime of early evening you have to expect families. And let's face it, that often means over excited, sugared up children fed up with waiting for their meal.

Alternatively in the summer I went to a very smart restaurant with friends arriving at about 8pm. We sat in their garden, it was all about twinkly lights and stars as the smooth Italian waiter served us Prosecco and olives. By 10pm the toddler and baby at the table next to us were taking it in turns to howl loudly. I was not amused. I am not saying those parents were not entitled to eat out but I think it was selfish of them to choose that restaurant at that time of night.

Gatwick McDonalds
Table for 21? Fast food for my family and friends!
One of the downfalls of having a large family is that we have accepted that to get a table and food to suit all we eat at off-peak times. Lunch at 11.30am or 2.30pm. Dinner at 5.30pm.  We take things with us to entertain them and we don't try and eat a three course meal with coffee and port. We understand that other people might find our children as charming as we do.

It might seem mean to say that I want child-free spaces to those of you still knee-deep in nappies and sippy cups. But believe me when you are at my stage of life you will thank me when you too can sit back, relax and take time to smell the (hot) coffee.


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