In December, I came across an article in the Age that basically argued that people who take their kids to the pub are ruining it for everybody - http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/hey-parents-leave-your-kids-at-home-20091212-kpmc.html.
This was pretty confronting for me, as Gaz and I like to take Leo to local bars and beer gardens to meet up with friends and generally think it works pretty well. Let me say up front that I still think you can definitely take young people out without upsetting anyone. However, I did take Jill Stark's point on a couple of things and I guess it led me to the conclusion that there are three key tips when taking little ones out and about in adult places so that you are being fair to everyone involved:
1. Go at a kid friendly time - I reckon Sunday afternoons and early weekday evenings are totally in but probably leave Friday and Saturday nights for the growns ups. It seems to me that you probably don't want to take small kids out around bedtime anyway as you are asking for trouble (for yourself and everyone around you). It's always best to have an exit strategy if things turn pear-shaped as well - Gaz and I tend to whisper "abort mission" across the table if it looks like Leo is about to blow.
2. Go to kid friendly places - beers gardens and massive noisy rooms are ideal as you really can't expect a kid to sit nicely on a bar stool. It's a good sign if you can see a couple of other people bringing their kids too. Anywhere where people seem to be enjoying a nice glass of red to a soothing background of Nina Simone is probably not the best place to try. I think it's fairest for everyone if you choose places where there is reasonable scope for running around and making a bit of noise (for adults and children).
3. Bring stuff - toddlers generally can't sit still for too long without attention and entertainment so you pretty much have to bring some books and toys for it to work. I can make some exceptions to this rule, as I know a couple of little girls who will happily sit in their pram and sip on a drink for an hour or so - what angels! Leo, however, will never do this and it always seems to go best when we bring a ball or some Thomas the Tank Engine books to keep him going.
Reading back, this all seems pretty preachy but while I took offence to being told that kids shouldn't be where grown-ups like to go out, with some thought I agree that sometimes I would also like to have a fancy cocktail in a quiet bar with no reminders of Yo Gabba Gabba.
I really believe that there are plenty of opportunties for parents to still be part of normal society and for us to be able to catch up with friends without spoiling anyone's day.
If anyone is looking for kid/toddler friendly bars in Brunswick - you are in luck! Here are my top 5 places to take your little one on a Sunday afternoon:
1. The Retreat Hotel, 280 Sydney Rd, Brunswick - http://www.melbournepubs.com/venue/624/
2. The Brunswick Green, 313 Sydney Rd, Brunswick - http://www.melbournepubs.com/venues/search/brunswick-green/
3. The Sporting Club Hotel, 27 Weston St, Brunswick - http://www.melbournepubs.com/venue/3086/
4. Penny Black, 420 Sydney Rd, Brunswick - http://www.melbournepubs.com/venues/search/penny-black/
5. The Comfortable Chair, 98 Lygon St, Brunswick East - http://www.melbournepubs.com/venues/search/comfortable-chair/
I hope to see you there soon!