Why you need to care less about being “that family”


Picture this. You’re out enjoying a pleasant meal and a few drinks with your other half when a family of four plants themselves down on the table next to yours.

The children will not sit still, and frequently attempt to dive under your table, they stare at you eating your food with mouths wide open, and they cry and scream for their parents’ attention.

The parents struggle to speak over the noise of the kids, so their volume gets amped up and up as they attempt to debate what the children will eat without a fuss.

You then witness as the parents attempt to eat and drink with one hand while juggling the two kids – who change their minds about which lap they want to sit on every 30 seconds.

The noise and the spectacle is exhausting just to watch.

So how does it make you feel? Are you glad its not you, or pissed off that these runny-nosed invaders have ruined your trip out?

We were “that family” last week.

We dared to attempt to go out for a late afternoon dinner with our two kids, who were both having the fussiest of fussy days. I had deliberately not given them too many snacks that afternoon either, so both were also hangry (you know, when you’re so hungry that you get angry) when we arrived.

But our children are one and three now. I expect trips out to be a bit stressful and just crack on with it. I choose food that I can eat with a fork only and I don’t care if people judge me for sipping on wine while in charge of my kids. It’s a couple of glasses, not a boozing session inspired by a Club 18-30 holiday!

And yet I do not like the feeling that I’m spoiling other people’s pleasant adult time out. We went to a local restaurant where there’s always loads of kids and they have their own menu.

On this visit there was just one other child – a newborn who was being so well behaved I swear even he was glancing around the room with a smug look on his face.

So it was us who became the loudest and most disruptive in the room. We were the ones who at first glance didn’t appear to have any control over our children’s behaviour.

When you’re painfully aware of being “that family” it makes you want to make excuses to the entire room.

“I swear they’re not normally this feral.”

“We only go out once in a blue moon.”

“They’re just excited about being somewhere new.”

I’m only human, so although I know I have as much right to be there as anyone else, I still feel awkward at the noisy scene we are creating in the centre of the room.

Being embarrassed is just part of being a parent. But there are a few things you need to remind yourself when your toddler yells “I need a poo” at the top of their lungs just as fellow diners are tucking into their meals.

Children are a fact of life. Even people who do not have kids, need to accept that they are a part of society.

Is it right for children to be shut away at home where they can’t “bother” anyone?

Absolutely not. Because then they aren’t learning about what behaviour is appropriate when in public places (I swear we are trying to teach them).

They aren’t being exposed to different places, strange people and new foods.

Taking your children out of their comfort zone is good for them, and there’s only so much they can learn about socialising from running around like a lunatic at soft play.

People who choose not to have kids may not be being hands-on with the next generation, but it’s still something they have to deal with. And, not wanting to get too deep here, but the next generation impacts on us all. They’re our future earners, contributors and carers. Look at them with scorn all you want as they dribble all over themselves, but one day that soggy toddler may be helping to wipe your mouth as you tuck into dinner.

And most importantly of all, parents deserve a bit of timeout. We can’t stay at home watching CBeebies all day, it would drive us bonkers, even if Tom Hardy agreed to appear in every show.

Parenting is hard, hard work. So if we fancy a break from the norm, and decide to dare enter a place where fellow adults are enjoying their downtime, I think we should be welcomed with open arms.

I don’t know about you, but when I’m out for a meal child-free and see a family, I think “good for you”, but I’m glad mine are at home.

So if you find yourself being “that family” next time you’re attempting a pleasant meal out, be proud that you’ve plucked up the courage to take the little darlings out in public, and drink your wine with your head held high.


Please share the love:

Leave a Reply

  • I agree that children are part of society, but they need to fit in with society too – just as drunk people do. I wouldn’t be happy if a drunk person was yelling or staggering around tables in a restaurant, nor would I be happy if children were doing it. I get it happens, but the parents need to nip it in the bud. I was the mum always hissing “People are paying a lot of money for their dinner and they don’t want you to ruin it!” I think restaurant training begins early – start of easy – yum cha cos it’s noisy, the food comes quickly and the kids love it. It doesn’t take long for kids to learn. I have to say I’ve been admiring a lot of noise sensitive kids with autism who seem to have got the restaurant thing working – even if some require headphones or a ‘break outside’. #FortheloveofBLOG

  • It’s a tight-rope we walk … Part of a parent’s role is teaching children what is appropriate and inappropriate behaviour in a public place. They’ll only learn that by being put in those situations. But there are times when the Tubblet was much smaller when we had to remind her about outside manners and inside voices and the importance of not running around as she may take out a waiter. There are no easy answers!

  • It’s hard to get out with kids- they are prone to say and do some very weird things. They do need to learn how to act in public so we have to take them out sometime.

  • Yes!!! I have been on both sides of the fence! If children are not exposed to dinning out how then can they practice those skills. I think it starts at the home dinner table. We try to model how to use the utensils and how to not act like feral children. Sometimes it is a hit, other times we need to pain the ceiling. Ha ha. Keep it up momma. You are doing great. #fortheloveofblog

  • Anyone who thinks they’ve never been “that” family either haven’t been paying attention, or they’re lying to themselves lol!
    Best wishes,
    Jennie xx

  • As someone who has social anxiety, that embarrassment when thing’s aren’t going your way and the attention being aimed at you is absolutely horrifying, but all you can do is breathe. Your track record for surviving these moments is 100% and will remain as such!

  • We have been “that” family a few times! I just call it character building, haha! I love your line, “but one day that soggy toddler may be helping to wipe your mouth as you tuck into dinner.” It really is true, this is a phase that will also pass eventually, and in the future these kids will no doubt become great things! #fortheloveofBLOG

  • I seen it from both sides and now as a grandparent but perhaps now I’m more “hey they are kids and look at the lovely smiles they give us all so you can tell we don’t resent each other” because everyone has those hard days.

  • A hangry child is the worst! I’m always mortified when L acts up in public but he has to learn and if he gets to the stage he’s disrupting other people one of takes him outside. Harder when I’m on my own, one cafe packed up my freshly bought food once as I had to take the terror home. They were lovely about it all though and slipped s brownie in for me as I would need it
    Bless them #fortheloveofBLOG

  • We have been “that family” more than once and the feeling is never nice. But I agree with you, you can’t have them being behaved all the time and you can’t watch CBeebies all the time either. 🙂

  • Been there too! It’s hard and it’s stressful but kids are kids. If they knew how to act like adults, they would be adults. The best way to learn is through experience in my opinion! Hope you got to enjoy your wine! #fortheloveofblog

  • I totally understand. being in a busy restaurant and the kids are kicking off. You feel like everyone is looking at you. Hopefully people will understand as they’ve been there. But like you say, people need to accept that children are part of society and families still should be able to go out for a meal occasionally! #Fortheloveofblog

  • We once went to a family restaurant with my brother-in-law, his wife and then 1 year old. My nephew was blabbing and gooeying all the time as a baby at that age would. A lady from the other table walked over and told my sister-in-law to get her child to shut up. Well you can actually imagine the tone she said it in. That got the whole restaurant in a tizz and people from other tables got involved and gave her a bit of their minds. My goodness it is a family restaurant with a kids play area – what do you expect kids to sit still and be quiet all the time. So yes we were that family on that night and it caused a bit of drama #fortheloveofblog

  • I don’t mind seeing ‘that family’ if I can see that the parents are doing their best to get everything under control and not the kind who just don’t care that their kids are upset. When we are ‘that family’ I try my best so we are not too disruptive but it’s really more about me doing what’s best for my kids and not because I want people to think highly of us. #fortheloveofblog

  • I agree with This Scribbler Mum. Some parents just ignore what their children are doing while sitting on their phones etc and that’s frustrating, but I think it’s great when families go out together and you expect kids to be a little unruly. #fortheloveofBLOG