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Why Everyone Has The Right to Peace and Quiet

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Janet Street-Porter proclaimed yesterday in The Daily Mail that she wants to see restaurants and cafes that are ‘kid-free’ zones. She believes that people who want quiet and repose shouldn’t be forced to suffer other people’s kids – the smell of poo, the wet wipes stuck to the floor – the anarchy and chaos.

And I agree. We currently live in a topsy-turvy society. We’re so child-centric that people are scared to put their neck out and say something that could be perceived as critical. In a recent interview with the ‘Scummy Mummies’ (two

SelfishMother.com
2
super-funny comedians who broadcast an irreverent podcast about parenting), the journalist Suzanne Moore said children used to fit in around our lives. They weren’t the only thing that drove our decisions. We didn’t have to get mountains of paraphernalia in order to be good parents. Now we have huge, ergonomic buggies that fold up in ten different ways, customisable designer covers and baby bags with built-in bottle warmers. We want to shout out to the world that we have a child. We want that child to be a symbol to the world of the kind of person we
SelfishMother.com
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aspire to be.

This also impacts on how we treat our kids. It’s hard to get the balance right in terms of discipline. Parenting books lecture us on a myriad of different ways to ‘negotiate’. The ‘seen and not heard’ model isn’t what people aspire to anymore but it feels like we’ve tipped too far the other way. Before I became a Mum I had no patience with the noise and disruption modern kids bring. I hated the fact I couldn’t finish a conversation with a friend without her son interrupting. I resented the unidentifiable mess stuck to my

SelfishMother.com
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chair. Everyone seemed scared to tell their kids to – ‘BE QUIET AND STOP INTERRUPTING!’ Then I had my daughter and things changed. I became just like every one else.

It’s normal that you think your kid is interesting; that everything they say is funny and clever. We are biologically hard-wired to do this – otherwise we would just walk out and leave them in their own mess. But I also get annoyed when a kid is going completely bat-shit and no-one is taking control. I don’t agree that they should be allowed to do whatever they want at the

SelfishMother.com
5
expense of other people. It’s not a good message for kids to learn. They will go out into the world thinking no one else matters.

That’s not to say that there are times when I’m tired and overwhelmed and let things slide. No parent is perfect (whatever they choose to depict on Instagram).

Sometimes when parents don’t step up, it is less to do with being lazy and laissez fair and more to do with the fact that they’re having a bad day. I’ve been there. Unfortunately public spaces like cafes and restaurants, where parents meet up with

SelfishMother.com
6
other parents, are spaces where these ‘mental holidays’ take place. The life of being a parent can be dull. There is a lot of repetition. You crave adult banter. The times when you can share the banalities and challenges are vital. Otherwise you’d probably lose your marbles.

But there are plenty of times when I don’t want to be surrounded by chaos and I appreciate the fact that others feel the same. I grimace if I walk into a restaurant with other parents and see a couple just about to kick off a romantic dinner. I work extra hard to make sure

SelfishMother.com
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they don’t get disturbed. I don’t think everyone ‘opts in’ to this child-centric world. And I agree with Street-Porter’s sentiment when she says that parents need to acknowledge that their kids don’t rule the world.

I have witnessed Mums and Dads discipline their kids in public (toddlers are exceptionally challenging) and seen people roll their eyes. Sometimes you have to look at the dynamics in place. Parenting is very culturally loaded. If you shout at your kid people judge. If you don’t they judge too. Perhaps we all need to stop

SelfishMother.com
8
judging and become more empathetic with one another.

Some cafes and restaurants thrive on parents, kids and the business they bring (as long as parents don’t nurse one coffee for three hours). But let’s also have environments that are ‘child-free’. If that’s a cake shop with lots of breakable stuff then why have kids allowed? It’s stressful for parents to navigate and it’s not the kind of clientele the café needs. Would you let your kid run about in a friend’s house and break everything valuable? Probably not. We’re lucky to have so

SelfishMother.com
9
many spaces where kids are welcome and we need to remember that.

And if people don’t want kids around them it doesn’t mean they’re the enemy. It just means they’re peace-loving and need some quiet. We all need more quiet now and then. We all need time to think and reflect.

Surely that’s something we can all agree on?

 

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- 25 Nov 15

Janet Street-Porter proclaimed yesterday in The Daily Mail that she wants to see restaurants and cafes that are ‘kid-free’ zones. She believes that people who want quiet and repose shouldn’t be forced to suffer other people’s kids – the smell of poo, the wet wipes stuck to the floor – the anarchy and chaos.

And I agree. We currently live in a topsy-turvy society. We’re so child-centric that people are scared to put their neck out and say something that could be perceived as critical. In a recent interview with the ‘Scummy Mummies’ (two super-funny comedians who broadcast an irreverent podcast about parenting), the journalist Suzanne Moore said children used to fit in around our lives. They weren’t the only thing that drove our decisions. We didn’t have to get mountains of paraphernalia in order to be good parents. Now we have huge, ergonomic buggies that fold up in ten different ways, customisable designer covers and baby bags with built-in bottle warmers. We want to shout out to the world that we have a child. We want that child to be a symbol to the world of the kind of person we aspire to be.

This also impacts on how we treat our kids. It’s hard to get the balance right in terms of discipline. Parenting books lecture us on a myriad of different ways to ‘negotiate’. The ‘seen and not heard’ model isn’t what people aspire to anymore but it feels like we’ve tipped too far the other way. Before I became a Mum I had no patience with the noise and disruption modern kids bring. I hated the fact I couldn’t finish a conversation with a friend without her son interrupting. I resented the unidentifiable mess stuck to my chair. Everyone seemed scared to tell their kids to – ‘BE QUIET AND STOP INTERRUPTING!’ Then I had my daughter and things changed. I became just like every one else.

It’s normal that you think your kid is interesting; that everything they say is funny and clever. We are biologically hard-wired to do this – otherwise we would just walk out and leave them in their own mess. But I also get annoyed when a kid is going completely bat-shit and no-one is taking control. I don’t agree that they should be allowed to do whatever they want at the expense of other people. It’s not a good message for kids to learn. They will go out into the world thinking no one else matters.

That’s not to say that there are times when I’m tired and overwhelmed and let things slide. No parent is perfect (whatever they choose to depict on Instagram).

Sometimes when parents don’t step up, it is less to do with being lazy and laissez fair and more to do with the fact that they’re having a bad day. I’ve been there. Unfortunately public spaces like cafes and restaurants, where parents meet up with other parents, are spaces where these ‘mental holidays’ take place. The life of being a parent can be dull. There is a lot of repetition. You crave adult banter. The times when you can share the banalities and challenges are vital. Otherwise you’d probably lose your marbles.

But there are plenty of times when I don’t want to be surrounded by chaos and I appreciate the fact that others feel the same. I grimace if I walk into a restaurant with other parents and see a couple just about to kick off a romantic dinner. I work extra hard to make sure they don’t get disturbed. I don’t think everyone ‘opts in’ to this child-centric world. And I agree with Street-Porter’s sentiment when she says that parents need to acknowledge that their kids don’t rule the world.

I have witnessed Mums and Dads discipline their kids in public (toddlers are exceptionally challenging) and seen people roll their eyes. Sometimes you have to look at the dynamics in place. Parenting is very culturally loaded. If you shout at your kid people judge. If you don’t they judge too. Perhaps we all need to stop judging and become more empathetic with one another.

Some cafes and restaurants thrive on parents, kids and the business they bring (as long as parents don’t nurse one coffee for three hours). But let’s also have environments that are ‘child-free’. If that’s a cake shop with lots of breakable stuff then why have kids allowed? It’s stressful for parents to navigate and it’s not the kind of clientele the café needs. Would you let your kid run about in a friend’s house and break everything valuable? Probably not. We’re lucky to have so many spaces where kids are welcome and we need to remember that.

And if people don’t want kids around them it doesn’t mean they’re the enemy. It just means they’re peace-loving and need some quiet. We all need more quiet now and then. We all need time to think and reflect.

Surely that’s something we can all agree on?

 

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I'm Super Editor here at SelfishMother.com and love reading all your fantastic posts and mulling over all the complexities of modern parenting. We have a fantastic and supportive community of writers here and I've learnt just how transformative and therapeutic writing can me. If you've had a bad day then write about it. If you've had a good day- do the same! You'll feel better just airing your thoughts and realising that no one has a master plan. I'm Mum to a daughter who's 3 and my passions are writing, reading and doing yoga (I love saying that but to be honest I'm no yogi).

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