The other night I took my daughter to a nice restaurant since we have such a short time left before she goes back to school. We choose Sarabeth’s Kitchen because on Tuesday night’s they bring in a string quartet. We thought we would have a nice relaxing dinner together and a chance to talk.
There was no peace to be found as a mom and her three children shattered it. Two of the children took to wrestling on the bench. They were loud and weren’t listening to the mom. We couldn’t help but think why she brought them to this particular restaurant, which is not a more upscale restaurant in the first place. And typically when we’ve gone before, they’ve always seated families in the front of the restaurant and couples and adults in the back section. We ended up eating quickly to escape the mayhem and got out of there.
The next morning, I was at the gym and saw on the news, a growing movement, so to speak, of restaurants posting signs and restricting the hours when parents can bring kids in tow to their restaurants. While some may think this is bias against families, I think it underscores a need for consideration between restaurants and families.
When my kids were young, I would have never brought them to what I considered to be an adult restaurant out of regard for others. And if they didn’t listen, I packed up the meal and left rather then subject anyone to my children’s bad behavior. It also taught mine a lesson. They learned very quickly they couldn’t eat out if they were loud and didn’t sit in their seats. My daughter had a terrible meltdown at a Burger King once when I dragged her screaming and kicking out of the establishment. I was so embarrassed and didn’t return to the scene for months for fear of being recognized as “that mom.”
Restaurants who cater to children do so knowing they are going to have to clean floors and sticky seats and tables from children. Restaurants could and should institute adult areas or kid sections rather that total bans of children at certain hours. And designate they are “kid-friendly” with the placement of a window decal would let families know the restaurant caters to kids.
Parents know child-friendly establishments are going to be noisy and often chaotic, but if you are going to a nicer restaurant, you can ask to be seated in a section of the restaurant where you’re less likely to disturb a majority of the patrons. And think of others, don’t take your children if you know they won’t behave or in desperate need for a nap. Bring things that can occupy them while you wait for food and don’t rely on the restaurant to provide the entertainment. Last resort, a babysitter so you can eat out and enjoy adult food establishments or order in.
How do you handle going out with the kids?