Should Children ‘Play’ When Out And About?

As I mentioned in Operation Makeover, we’re looking to make a few changes around the house, breathing a little new life into each room, throughout the course of the year. So, as the husband had a day off, we though it’d be useful to pop over to a local retail park and check out Next Home and Ikea for some ideas and inspiration.

On the way over, I took a rare stand and removed Boo’s Disney CD and replaced it with one my own – horror of horrors! So while she pretended to sulk, Little Man and I had a dance and I sang happily all the way down the M6! It was a fun start to our outing, and as children do, even trips like this can be turned into great adventures for them, especially when they have each other to play and giggle with.

ikea trip

Whether they were in or out of the trolley, snacking in the cafe or testing out the toys, they laughed. It was a lovely afternoon, marred only be one small niggle. A comment. By a stranger.

Boo and Little Man were jumping on a huge children’s pouffe, giggling raucously, and doing it over and over. I was across in another staged room, eyeing up a rather lovely bookcase (more of that in another post!), and the Husband was with them. I enjoyed hearing them so happy. I should stress that’s all they were doing. They weren’t in anyone’s way (it was Ikea on a Monday afternoon, so hardly the busiest of places), they weren’t doing anything to mess with displays or potentially break any items, they weren’t wildly jumping on sofas and furniture, they were just playing with a kids toy (I should also stress that the TV in the photos isn’t real – I’m not mad enough to let a toddler do that!) A woman walked passed the Husband and muttered to him ‘control your children’. It was fortunate it was not me it was muttered to, as I’m not quite as laid-back as my lovely Husband.

I would ask, ‘Why?’ And are children of 4 and 1 meant to be ‘controlled’? As long as they’re safe and happy, and not hurting anyone or anything else, isn’t that OK? They were making a potentially dull trip into a fun game, and yes they were noisy because they were laughing so hard, but since when has that been a crime? I love seeing their ability to transform the mundane into the magical. I revel in it. They are well-behaved, they are polite, and I’d say we err on the side of being strict parents rather than go-with-the-flow, but, and it’s a big but, they are also young children. So they play, they have fun, and if it’s OK to do so, they have free rein with that, and we like to join in.

It did leave me wondering if this lady had any children and grandchildren of her own, and how much fun their childhoods would have been…

Has this happened to you? Do you allow your kids to play when you’re out and about?

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32 thoughts on “Should Children ‘Play’ When Out And About?”

  1. This sucks. People are so down on children. I do get that children need to behave and sometimes you do get children going crazy in public places. (I’m sure my children will do this at some point – there are times when it can’t be helped). But getting angry at children laughing? What a shame. What a totally miserable woman.

    1. Of course they need to behave, and if they’d have been naughty or disruptive, we’d have stopped them, but they were just having fun. It was a shame. Thanks x

  2. Ooh, I’d have been livid. IKEA is one of the few places that’s very tolerant of children simply being children. It’s not a given in this country at all. I suspect it was someone not used to seeing children out and about clearly, but it too annoys me that there are many times when I’m on edge because of ‘looks’ or comments when my children are just playing. I don’t tolerate bad behaviour from my two, but usually they’re very well behaved and if anyone’s going to do telling off, it will be me or my husband. I’m all annoyed on your behalf.

    1. Funnily enough, the Husband said a similar thing about Ikea – they want us getting in there and enjoying it, I think. I did find myself telling Boo to shush down initially, and then was angry with myself for paying attention to the woman, so I ignored her so we could continue on with our nice afternoon. And yes, we’ll tell them off if need be – we’ve earned that right! So glad Boo didn’t hear and it didn’t make her sad, too. Thanks for commenting x

  3. Well, I don’t have kids and I must admit I don’t like to see kids running around touching stuff like you’ve shown us with the TV in the photos. So I’d have been gritting my teeth, I must say !!
    However, AS kids we all three of us were never allowed to run around like that in shops and never, ever touch a thing so I suppose that carries forward and now I don’t like to see it. Kids running around are probably my main reason for internet grocery shopping. I’m not accusing you of letting your pair run all over the place but many do and it IS annoying. You were in sight of yours too-again, that’s not always the case. Yet if said child was scooped up by some weirdo the parents would be screaming blue murder….yet you can see how easily it could happen when the parents are yapping to their pals 2 rows over…..anyway, I digress !!

    1. You make good points, thank you. As per our Twitter chat, I stress that’s not a real TV there – I wouldn’t let them do that if it was! And they weren’t running around, they were right with us all of the time, but they were playing & enjoying themselves next to us. We weren’t allowed to run about in shops either, or restaurants, so the kids are always well-behaved there, too! There’s never any running about in supermarkets either – I Internet shop & when we do go, Little Man is always in the trolley!!
      Thanks for reading & commenting, as always x

  4. Ugh, this reminds me of a time a few weeks ago when I’d stopped to talk to a friend on the pavement, and the 5 kids we have between us were dancing around with joy to see each other and generally having fun – it was the Christmas Holidays so they hadn’t seen each other for a few weeks. A lady walked past and was so rude about them, I was fuming – but then I thought well, we’re the lucky ones after all, and it sort of took the edge off it 🙂

  5. We had a trip to Ikea not too long ago and my kids loved it, they were a bit noisy and they played nicely with the bits in Ikea, children need to have fun to explore, as long as they are not hurting anyone or breaking anything, what’s the harm. I would also like to say that Ikea like to encourage children in their stores as they provide various play points throughout the store specially for the kids. It is a family store, not a posh restaurant. Let kids play! x

    1. Exactly! They put these things out so that children do play! They wouldn’t behave like that in a posh restaurant. Thanks x

  6. “A woman walked passed the Husband and muttered to him ‘control your children’. ” That is disgusting I would have totally kicked off if someone said this to me! I hate it when people walk around forgetting what is like to have children and judging others! Like you said, maybe she had no children of her own! #MMWBH xxx

  7. I’m like you I wouldn’t have held my tongue. I hate when people are like this, would they perfer us to dress them in army camo and march them to where they need to go. I think people forgot they were once a child.

  8. My family is the same way, we try to have fun and be goofy throughout the days, regardless of where we are. Our children our only this small once, plus I think we can all learn from their zest for life and everything they encounter. I feel sorry for that lady, and for all the people who give us disapproving looks when we play in public, they’re missing out by holding back.

    1. You’re so right, it is about finding the fun in whatever we’re doing, and as long as no-one’s getting hurt or inconvenienced, what does it matter?! Thanks x

  9. Oh for goodness sake! that would do my head in. Have as much fun as you can. There is plenty of time for strict and serious and quiet and work and all of that ‘important’ stuff later. I think if you are enjoying yourself, keeping and eye but not being a helicopter and no one is getting hurt so much the better. There is no better sound on this planet than the sound of children laughing together. x

    1. Thank you – this is so my thoughts! I loved hearing them laughing, but clearly it’s not to everyone’s taste 😉

  10. For goodness sake! Last time we went to Ikea JJ went mad in the kids toys areas and spent a long time taking turns with another little girl on the spinning egg chair! (He also loved that little tent that you bought too and managed to knock it over from the inside!) Those things are put there for childrent to play with and explore – if they were dangerously swinging off a bookcase in the living room section or running off with other peoples’ trollies than that would be different but I’d have just assumed that woman was having a bad day and written it off as nothing more than that!

  11. It’s funny you’ve re-posted this on Twitter – just at the weekend we were in the sharps section of homebase and Zach was fascinated by one of the wardrobes that had a light come on with the door opened and went off when it closed. He stood inside it and made it work and I was worried the showroom lady would be annoyed with him but she simply stated that usually the kids like exploring one if the other wardrobes 🙂 made me feel better that he was having fun!!

    1. It’s easier as you can get things done and relax, as long as they’re safe and not harming anything or anyone, seems a good plan to me!

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