children tea

children tea

For the best part of a decade I have been a mother and I have so many beautiful photographs of my two eldest children and I, when they were small enjoying afternoon tea or a nice meal out, but something has changed,  I now have two more daughters who are two and ten months and the opportunities for me to take my little ones out is now becoming far reduced as places are becoming increasingly child-free zones.

Indeed I wonder if we soon be living in a world of child- free cafés and restaurants? There have been quite a few  cafés that have hit the headlines after declaring a no child policy and I must say that lately I have encountered a distinctly cool reception when dining out with children.

My husband and I took our children, aged nine, ,seven, two and ten months for dinner at a chain pub recently and it was a less than child friendly experience. Now, I’m not a great fan of chain pubs, but we’d been out all day, it had turned 7 o’clock and my two year old was getting hungry – on ordering food we were told that we had to leave by 9′ o clock as we had children, but two hours was ample time to dine and I really just wanted to get my toddler fed.  The girls were all settled down into colouring and then politely eating their dinner, there was no excessive noise, no squabbling or tantrums, but the meal was ruined by the level of noise created on the table behind occupied by a couple who seemed to feel it necessary to set their volume on loud in order to broadcast their ‘private’ conversation to the entire pub. They were so loud that my husband and I could not hear one another, and our conversation centered on , ‘sorry’, ‘pardon’, ‘what did you say?’ and ‘I can’t hear you?’.  Whilst, on the table  in front of us there was more obnoxious bad behaviour. Whilst our children were happily focused on eating their dinner, a huffy 50-something woman decided to glare, stare and tut as she shot death stares at us.  Eventually, she announced to her male companion, ‘children shouldn’t be out at this time of night. I don’t want to look at kids on my night out’.

I chose to smile at the woman and ignore her tantrum as I find in the case of most unwarranted emotional outbursts, this is the best course of action. Sadly, this is not the first time that I have encountered this attitude.

Last night I decided to go on a family outing to the theatre. I was somewhat disgruntled that having booked tickets to a classical music concert and having paid for children’s tickets, that I was asked to leave and told that I should never have been sold tickets. It was suggested that I would be better booking to see a forthcoming production of Gingerbread Man. My children rarely create noise or disruption, my toddler can occasionally get agitated at which point I do the responsible thing and take her out, calm her down and create as little disruption others as possible, but if children are never allowed anywhere then how on earth can they learn how to behave in public?

I fear that my days on writing on travel with children may be numbered as children in public spaces are becoming the new, undesirable social embarrassment  to replace smoking, I expect to see no children signs on the doors of all theatres, pubs, restaurants and cafés soon.