A good friend told me about how a local cafe recently attracted some criticism from the mums in the area when it put up a notice saying “children must be supervised and not be allowed to run around the café, jump on furniture, lay on or crawl around the table… We would also ask that the expectations of other customers who wish to enjoy their food and drink and read in peace are respected”.
I used to live down the road from this cafe and have visited it several times, both on my own and with my child. (Their coffee is one of the best I’ve tasted.) The staff has always been lovely and I’ve never been made to feel unwelcomed. Since my last visit – I can’t remember when – I’ve had another child and moved further down the road.
In the last year or so, the proportion of young mums in the area has sky rocketed. Drop by any of the local cafes between 11am-12pm and 2pm-4pm, and you are bound to see a baby or two or three.
All this made me think, what if cafes did become segregated and implemented a ‘no children’ policy?
At the coffee shop where I’m a regular, my children come along on a Sunday morning. Normally, we get there as soon as the doors open and we’d be the only people there. Sometimes there would be one or two other customers.
I always go armed with a variety of toys, colouring books and pens to keep them entertained while I read the Sunday papers. I know the kids well enough that they would be perfectly happy to play nicely for about 45 minutes to an hour. Beyond that, we have to go to the nearby garden for them to stretch their little legs and run off some steam.
I think that being in an adult-majority environment from time to time is healthy for my kids. I would like them to learn to not treat everywhere they go as a playground. For that one hour a week, my children rein in their normally noisy behaviour to do some quiet colouring. They’re not always little angels but when they are, it’s bliss.
Like table manners and respecting their elders, I would like them to learn how to behave in public. All I want is for them to grow up to have good manners.
I don’t want cafes to have a ‘no children’ policy. Sometimes, even when the kids are with me, I don’t always want to be in a room with ten other parents and their babies. I also don’t want to feel like I can only bring them to Giraffe or Pizza Express. Children is a fact of life. It’s healthy for them to be around adults and vice versa.
Parents just need to be aware of and responsible for their childrens’ behaviour.