Here's a chapter from our book one "Child Free Zones" :-) Enjoy, David
Child-free zones Most child-free people do not go out of their way to avoid contact with children. However, most appreciate the opportunity to enjoy adult company without them. As Fiona, 32, put it: ‘We avoid family restaurants and G rated films – though we both love a good toyshop.’ ‘I avoid situations where I might encounter [children], for example picnic grounds or holiday venues outside school terms,’ said Kate, 55. Last year we were looking forward to treating Mum to a nice birthday lunch at a beachside restaurant with a reputation for excellent food. We were seated at a table for three in the centre of the restaurant, surrounded by large tables, each with a small child or baby in a carrier. Each of them screamed throughout our lunch and totally ruined the experience. Parents will talk of the need to be tolerant and understanding, while non-parents may feel that their needs and feelings are disregarded. It is considered poor form to complain about the poor behaviour of children or their parents. ‘I think that a lot of parents are very inconsiderate when it comes to taking their children out in public places,’ said Jan, 34. ‘They should think about where they’re taking the kids and how their behaviour can affect other people. I don’t want to listen to a screaming child when I’m at a nice restaurant, at an art exhibition, watching a movie or when I’m at band practice. Small children playing chasey around expensive musical instruments is a recipe for disaster and yet it seems politically incorrect to say anything.’ Public places such as restaurants cannot advertise themselves as ‘child-free’ and not allow children, probably due to anti-discrimination laws. Lynch’s Restaurant of Melbourne caused a stir when it displayed a sign in the window saying that babies were not allowed. A couple took them to court over the issue and they made prime time news with their child-free stand. The result could not be technically called a win for Lynch’s as discrimination was found to have occurred. However, Lynch’s didn’t have to pay any court costs and didn’t have to alter their policy. They were advised to put a sign in the front window indicating that they reserved the right to refuse service to people under the age of 12. Lynch’s told us that they received over 400 letters of support, endless congratulatory phone calls and only two letters that were opposed to their stance. One of our survey respondents kindly sent us a postcard from Lynch’s that features a cartoon of a screaming baby and the words ‘Baby Free Zone’ on the front. The manager of a tourist facility in the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales wrote that they simply note on all promotional literature that they have ‘no facilities for children’. She says that during the school holidays, they are always fully booked with schoolteachers. ‘Word has got around that we offer adult accommodation, and it is greatly appreciated by all our guests. This is not easy to do – in fact I am technically breaking the law, so I have to be Very Careful with my bookings.’ Some of the more exclusive Barrier Reef island resorts cater specifically for couples and make it clear that they do not cater for children under 16. An increasing number of bed and breakfast style guesthouses do the same. As some of our survey respondents pointed out, there are ways to enjoy activities without the interference of misbehaving children. After all, when you are there you don’t have a choice in the behaviour of the children who also happen to be there. It is easiest to avoid all of them. We have learnt to not even contemplate taking holidays during school holidays. This has an added bonus of being cheaper than peak times and the roads are considerably safer with less traffic. The flexibility of child-free travel, both internationally and domestically, can provide considerable savings for a variety of reasons. Recently we visited Disney World in Orlando, Florida. This destination may sound like a total mistake for the child-free, child-avoiding couple. After all, these places are made for kids. Despite this we were determined to satisfy the children within us. We visited the park in the off-peak season so crowds were at a minimum. When we went to the theme parks we went very early in the morning, before most families could get organised, or late at night when most families were worn out. We managed to avoid queuing for all but one major attraction. It was amazing. We exhausted one theme park per day. Families we spoke to were on their third and fourth visits to a single park, and told us that they needed that many visits to cater for the slower progress made by larger family groups. We were also able to apply some strategy to our visit. We knew that we were only there for a short time so we pushed the sleep envelope. We did everything we could all day every day, planning to do our catch-up sleeping on the way home in the plane. You can’t do this with kids. When they get sleepy and whiney there is nothing you can do but let them rest. Another simple strategy we have is to avoid ‘family’ restaurants where possible. Not only is this label an indicator that vast numbers of children will be present, but it also tends to be a flag as to the quality of the meals available. There are coach trips and cruises that advertise themselves as catering for adults. We suspect this is to do with the licensing laws and free availability of alcohol more than the intention of catering for adults who don’t want to interact with children. If the world is your pub then everyone has to be of drinking age. Often our stamina alone eventually provides us with the sort of child-free experience that we appreciate in public places. For example, most parents with children will leave a restaurant well before we need to. The true ‘child-free zone’ is very rare. Many adults are far more childish than children, and not in a particularly flattering way either. Many of our survey respondents have pointed out to us by that they are happy to interact with well behaved children, just as they prefer to interact with well behaved adults. It is fine to choose who your adult friends are, but when you try to choose your children friends you are in big trouble. You have to love them all! We’d like to provide a list of child-free facilities, restaurants, activities, organisations, clubs and holidays, but few of these facilities are advertised as such in guides or brochures. Many generate awareness through word of mouth. If you have some information that may be of benefit to child-free people in this regard, please contact us via any of the methods outlined in the back of this book. We are happy to collect this information and use it for future revisions of this book or put it on our web site.