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How can we make Britain more family-friendly?

(180 Posts)
Carriemumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 31-Aug-10 16:15:13

Mumsnet are launching an initiative to try and make Britain the most family-friendly country in Europe (well...the world actually, but we thought we'd start small smile) Ambitious plan? Just a bit, but we think long overdue. We want to challenge companies - and we're talking everyone from travel firms to supermarkets, restaurants to mobile phone merchants - to join our programme and find out - from Mumsnetters - how they could make their industry more family-friendly. We're going to look at every aspect of how a company operates from how they market their goods to the welcome and facilities they provide to families. And then we want to encourage them to do business in a way that makes life easier for families not more difficult, and ultimately give Mumsnet Family-friendly awards to the ones that do it well.

Obviously we'll need lots of help and input from the folks who know most about all this - ie you. So before we really get going, we want to know what you think. What does family-friendly mean to you and what criteria should we use to judge whether a company is family-friendly or not? What do you love about what some companies are already doing and - just as important - what do you think they should stop doing? Is it the way companies try to sell products to you or your children that makes you cross or is it the fact that you can never squeeze your buggy down the aisle at your local coffee shop? Or both, or neither? If you could pick three things you'd change about any industry to make it more family friendly - what would they be?

Lots of questions but we'd love to hear your thoughts so please, post 'em here



There needs to be a lot more Child friendly Cafes/coffee Shops, our local ones are all full of trendy students who tut and sigh at children making noise or daring to run around.

Somewhere that was aimed at Parents with little ones with staff that had children would be good, wit places inside these cafes for the children to play, maybe a corner with a bookshelf or a table and colours for drawing?

Also in restraunts you find Kids meals and Junior meals but never toddler sized portions, my toddler can't eat 3 fish fingers or 2 Sausages and a huge plate of Chips/Beans/Peas.

I love Cinemas family mornings with the £1 tickets where littlies are encouraged so i think there should be more of them.

Also just a general tolerance of young children would be nice, i hate getting tutted at or sighed at because my son is making noise or daring to touch things.

I will think of more because a lotof Places in England are not family friendly at all.

fryalot Tue 31-Aug-10 16:22:44

I love the fact that places like McDonalds let you use their toilets without insisting that you buy something - great for when you're out and about with toddlers who can't always wait.

I hate it when there's a massive queue and nothing to occupy bored children and then you get people tutting or giving dirty looks when they act up a bit.

I like that some supermarkets (asda especially) not only allow you to feed your children the things you're buying them before you get to the checkout but actively encourage you to do so (obviously I pay for the empty packaging when I get to the checkout)

(1) Toilets
(2) Food
(3) Access.

That's about it really. I can't go to certain places because I can't get into the loo with two urchins in tow. A lot of cafes and even restaurants have totally unrealistic ideas of what kids eat - our fave cafe used to do toast soldiers half marmite, half cheese and it was fab. Now we have indifferent chocolate brownies at M&S. Also, frankly I object to paying £5 per child for chicken nuggets which they won't eat. Please acknowledge that the under fours often will eat four chips and one pea and size meals appropriately (also make them edible - that'd be nice, DD tried to eat the toy in the McDonalds happy meal and declared it nicer than the 'yellow thing' (I think it was chicken).

Finally access - it's not just about buggy access but about buildings which are, quite frankly very unfriendly to everyone but single people. Two or more small children to get down two flights of stairs - what fun! hmm

MmeLindt Tue 31-Aug-10 16:23:59

Cafes and Restaurants - very obvious one here, but it costs next to nothing to have some colouring in pencils (No felt tips!) and fun paper placemats for the children. DO NOT put up TVs or Nintendos in the booths, we want to interact with our children not have them ignore us. A small play area is good, but only if cared for, broken toys and filthy carpets do not make me want to linger. Also heating facilities for babyfood, small portions of DECENT food, not just fish fingers / chicken nuggets / sausages and chips. Most DC like pasta, or roast chicken.

Shops and Shopping Centres - decent changing rooms for babies, not combined with disabled loos and do not combine loos with feeding rooms for babies. That is disgusting. Electric doors for easy access with pushchairs. And put the children's shoes/clothes dept on the ground floor unless you have a massive lift. (Marks and Spencer and Clarks - are you listening?)

Travel Firms Stop bumping up prices during school holidays. Young families already have to scrimpt and save and it is infuriating to see the price of holidays shoot up during the summer months.

I could probably go on and on.

Tbh, I have lived in both Switzerland and Germany and I find UK to be pretty family friendly already. Certainly in comparison to Germany.

compo Tue 31-Aug-10 16:24:55

I hate changing room facilities or changing table inside the ladies loo

useless for dh to use

bluewater is a good model has lovely changing rooms and breastfeeding facilities

I do quite like those shops which have a little table and chairs so the kids can colour in while you are having a mooch.

I dislike intensely any shop which gives my child a fecking balloon. First of all DS is allergic to latex, second on the way home I can't see in my rear view and thirdly I have the 'my balloon has popped, the world has come to an end and I will spend the remaining time wailing loudly' experience hmm FGS a sticker is much better if you must bribe them!

At the risk of being the world's whingiest mum - I would also add - restaurants who feck off when you want to pay - look, I've had my kids sit quietly and push their food around eat for an hour, now we'd like to pay and go, do not hide now FFS! angry

nikki1978 Tue 31-Aug-10 16:27:23

Definitely more restaurants to have a kids corner (the packs they sometimes give you are ok but don't keep them entertained for long).

I think the family friendly thing needs to be made more obvious anyway. They may have a tiny sticker in a window which is barely noticable. If people were more aware that it was family friendly - even if only at set times - then maybe people would be more accommodating of the children (or wouldn't go in that particular restaurant). Nothing worse than feeling stressed and uncomfortable when eating out.

Pubs to bring back play areas also please!

Anyway of making it easier to shop with kids would be appreciated!

MmeLindt Tue 31-Aug-10 16:28:18

We like to go to this Cafe in Perth for example. They have a children's play area, their kid's meal has fruit, carrots, sultanas, a small sandwhich and a couple of crisps.

I wish there was a cafe like that in every town.

You see this is why we go to IKEA so much, I know they can get food they like - it's good value and they have a fab play area in the cafe so I can sit and have a (free) cup of coffee while they run off some energy and are more willing to hunker down in the trolley afterwards so I can buy stuff. And it works for IKEA, we probably go once a month.

I don't actually care about P&T parking though as I can park appropriately wink

I like the 'pick 5 things for £x' idea that some places do for kids food, then i can choose DS's a combo and don't have to have what ever is on the menu.

strandedatsea Tue 31-Aug-10 16:32:06

I think we're already very family friendly, especially compared to where I live at the moment (Caribbean island).

But if there was one thing I would love to see it would be more hotels with "suites" a-la-the States. Two rooms for almost the price of one. Brilliant!

And whomovedmychocolate - we had a balloon incident the other day after visiting Frankie and Bennies (not my first choice but we needed to find somewhere quick!). Dd2 (2) let her's go after leaving and was inconsolable. We have been "spotting" it ever since though!

I did like those little Car trolleys Tesco used to have, they stopped doing them now and only ever had about 3, they were a pita to push but it kept DS entertained all the way round Tesco.

nikki1978 Tue 31-Aug-10 16:35:19

Are you cussing Frankie and Bennys strandedatsea? That is our favourite family friendly restaurant grin

I'll echo what MmeLindt said - it is unconscionable the hike in holiday prices in school holidays. This should be made an unacceptable trading practice.

CerealOffender Tue 31-Aug-10 16:37:18

i think it is friendly enough. personally i loathe 'family friendly' places and avoid them at all costs. i have raised dd to behave like a civilised member of society instead

The hike in Summer Holiday prices for places is ridiculous, its not making people want to keep their kids in school during term time believe me!
Especially places like Butlins, we think they are great for a Family Friendly holiday but let themselves down when they triple the prices during July/Aug/Sept its ridiculous.

strandedatsea - what you mean your balloon went to save a fairy whose wings had broken and needed a ride home? wink

I flipping loathe F&Bs - it's an abomination IMHO.

strandedatsea Tue 31-Aug-10 16:38:48

nikki - great for the dd's, I just didn't like my food very much grin...

Which could bring me to....restaurants which do good children's menus but also decent adult food.

Can I add: supermarkets should have more than one trolley for two toddlers or choose not to place glass items below three feet. hmm

scrappydappydoo Tue 31-Aug-10 16:41:07

Agree about the toilets - if you are a store that sells baby items - please try and have a customer loo (mothercare/boots are you listening?)
Also the putting the baby/child stuff on a different floor with no decent lift.

Motorway/road services are my bugbear (moto being a slight exception but they're not perfect). I know space is a premium and you need to make money but when you have been stuck in a car for a couple of hours with kids everyone needs space to stretch legs without being bombarded by fast food and retail 'opportunities'. The french aires are fantastic - loos and space and more often than not a small playground.

I don't think we're too bad but overall I think a little care and thought goes a long way.

I think Ikea do pretty well on the family friendly front. Stuff I like that they do that I think more companies could offer are:
1. Toilets - some child friendly toilets with small toilets, potties, baby changing along with a normal size toilet
2. Those trolleys for your trays in the restaurant - really handy when you've got a few plates/mugs etc and a couple of kids

I think as a minimum places with toilets should have a unisex baby changing room/toilet. There's plenty of times dh takes the kids out on his own or dd1 insists on daddy taking her to the loo.

Wider aisles are needed in lots of shops. Strangely it's often kids shops where the stuff is crushed together (yes ELC, I mean you wink)

Oh yes don't give balloons out (helloooo pumpkin patch are you listening?). Have you ever tried walking round a crowded shopping centre with a 3 year old with a balloon. She invariably sticks it in front of people, who then tut and eventually I get the thing to carry when she gets fed up of people told to be careful with it.

Stop putting kids stuff in the most inconvenient place possible. If I have kids with me I don't want to have to trek to the 4th floor with them. If I have the pram I don't want to have to wait 10 minutes for your lift to arrive.

Another vote for baby/toddler sized portions or cheaper kids meals.

strandedatsea Tue 31-Aug-10 16:53:15

More of these sort of things car shaped shopping trolley

booyhoo Tue 31-Aug-10 17:01:45

clean public toilets, well located and easily accessible for everyone.

eating out, whether taht be day or evening. it would be good to have healthy restaurants were my children were welcome for an evening meal and not looked upon as a nuisance.

accessible public transport. met a single mum teh other day with a 3,2 and 1 year old. 1 and 2 year old in double buggy. she cannot drive, we have no train network, buses are her only option. she has never been helped onto teh bus with her buggy and children.

I'm Italian and I lived in the Uk for quite a long time before going back to Italy.
I think that the UK is extremely family friendly.
The most family friendly thing that should be tackled is more affordable childcare.

UnquietDad Tue 31-Aug-10 17:12:51

Cafes and restaurants... Yes, healthy and inexpensive restaurants where children are welcome. No dispiriting mass-produced chicken nugget shit. No awful "play" areas consisting of a shabby pissy corner with a blackboard, some broken chalk and some chewed giant Lego. (I am not exaggerating. And this was in a good pub.)

Smaller toilets labelled Boys and Girls in family pubs as well as Gents and Ladies. Unisex baby changing room or changing facilities in both Gents and Ladies.

But a lot is about changing people's attitudes, which I sadly feel won't happen. Those who want to see children as an annoyance and an irritant are not going to change... Oh, let's be honest - some of us see other people's children as an an irritant! I know I do! My heart sinks if I have to take my screaming children into a cafe full of screaming children. And therein lies the problem. Could we have cafes where you are only allowed in if your child speaks nicely, does not dribble and will sit nicely and play with a jigsaw puzzle while drinking organic milk? wink

Message withdrawn

UnquietDad Tue 31-Aug-10 17:21:10

When DW presents me with a moan, or a seemingly insoluble family problem, I always ask first: "What do other people do?" Of course, it often turns out to be a version of that joke about the yokel being asked for directions who says "I wouldn't start from here."

Yes, the price of overseas holidays during the school holidays is absolutely bloody CRIMINAL. They get away with it because they can. I just don't see how anyone can stop them. It's so depressing.

Childcare is a bloody ripoff. I am trying to work out how it simultaneously manages to be one of the poorest-paid professions for women and yet also one of the biggest expenses for parents. The two factors should not be able to co-exist in the same universe. Childminders and nurseries should be showering in gold-dust, the amount we have shelled out for them over the years... It needs to be flexible - but, of course, this means the employees need to be flexible. And a good few of them are going to be parents too, using their own childcare. (They can't all be Granny "I childmind 24 hours and even take bloody DOGS, WTF is that all about?" Murray from Riversea-wossname.) The implications are obvious.

This question perhaps needs to be our first port of call with a lot of these problems. How do other countries manage? And what do they have to put this in place that we do not? Even if the answer turns out to be "I wouldn't start from here."

Sorry, I've gone on a bit.

PussinJimmyChoos Tue 31-Aug-10 17:21:22

I think the UK is already pretty family friendly in terms of eating out and changing facilities. Also buggy friendly buses and pavements. Have tried strolling with DS in his buggy in Damascus and it is not easy - high pavements, people parking on them etc

I have visited other countries and not seen the same facilities offered that we have here in the UK

Having said that, the attitude towards children in other countries is what makes it more child friendly. Have been to Syria, Spain, Dubai and Italy and children are welcomed and seen as part of the fabric of life, rather than tutted at with eye rolling if they make a noise

On the plane trips to Syria, DS has been met with nothing but coos and smiles and if babies cry on the flights, there is sympathy all around and in one instance, one of the men, who was a Dr, was reassuring the parents and taking a turn walking the aisle to try and quiet the baby down!

Bonsoir Tue 31-Aug-10 17:24:57

I find England very child-friendly. Perhaps even too tolerant of badly behaved children. Please don't make this a campaign that encourages parents to be even more lenient towards their children in public places.

Message withdrawn

CerealOffender Tue 31-Aug-10 17:29:38

i think most people are child friendly, its the god awful parents that annoy everyone

mollyroger Tue 31-Aug-10 17:31:22

more play areas.
And parks catering for older children too.

Including at service stations

CerealOffender Tue 31-Aug-10 17:44:17

service stations aren't even people friendly though.

mollyroger Tue 31-Aug-10 17:47:25

ha, you're right. But we'd all feel a little more chilled if the children could let off a little steam on a humungous journey. And it would be siuch a small thing to do.

There is one on the way to Exeter which has a water feature which the kids all adore, (but are not supposed to play in, naturally..)

MmeLindt Tue 31-Aug-10 17:58:40

Actually having done a fair bit of travelling around Europe this summer I would say more play parks would be great.

Here in Switzerland the school playgrounds are left open after school finishes so that the children have some place to play. And there are often play parks very close to city centres so you can go shopping or sightseeing the let the kids let off steam. Or the other way around. Play parks with cafes are even better.

mollyroger Tue 31-Aug-10 18:04:59

yy, when i was in amsterdam last, I noticed , there seemed to be green spaces almost at the end of every street, often with a couple of swings. Adults would sit out at the almost-always adjoining cafe/bar and the children would all be playing.

strandedatsea Tue 31-Aug-10 18:11:52

Everyone will have their own opinions on this, but I think people go on holiday and everyone makes a fuss of their children in the restaurants and hotels and they think "wow what a wonderful, child-friendly place this is". No, they just want a tip. Just like how people think everyone in the Caribbean are so wonderful and friendly. No, they are as grumpy as the rest of us - it's just that most people you meet work in the hospitality industry and know how to make you feel good - so you tip them/recommend them/come back.

When I was home in the UK this summer, the one thing that really struck me was how many parents (mostly women, but men, too) were actually playing with their children in the playparks - not just allowing them to run around un-supervised. I don't think we hate children at all. I think we care about them a great deal - sometimes too much (helicopter parenting et al). We just show it in a different way. Yes, you see loads of children running around until all hours in Mediterranean restaurants - but they are usually extended families with lots of grannies and aunts to help out. And because it is warmer, there is more room for them to run around outside.

Sorry must stop ranting!

strandedatsea Tue 31-Aug-10 18:13:19

There's loads of playparks in the UK! And brilliant ones too.

(Sorry I am a victim of living on a small island with one playpark for too long).....

expatinscotland Tue 31-Aug-10 18:14:08

What whomoved wrote! LOVE IKEA for all the reasons she outlined.

gigglewitch Tue 31-Aug-10 18:18:24

have read the op and a few other posts, sorry haven't time to read the whole thread just now.

What would make it family-friendly from my pov would be to reduce the cost of so-called "family tickets". To get into anything from the safari park, to the zoo, to the cinema, for me, dh and our three primary aged children it costs over £40. Which we simply don't have.

(I do however have national trust and English Heritage membership, which are very family friendly, so we go there instead grin)

Unquiet, I see we are the only ones mentioning child care...
In Italy nurseries are state funded. But I know that state funded childcare is a controversial topic on MN.

Apart from (on average good) state funded nursery schools and old people's cooing over pretty babies, Italy is NOT that child/family friendly.

Yes, children are more or less tolerated in restaurants (it depends on the restaurant) but we lack baby changing facilities, clean toilets, parks, our (very good) maternity leave legislation means that women over 30 rarely get a permanent contract, the new reform of the school system means that the state school sector has been left languishing until its death etc etc etc.

It is much better in the UK, where at least there is a project, and a more diffuse sense of respect of childhood.

gigglewitch Tue 31-Aug-10 18:20:21

BTW I agree with the others who have said there's a huge amount of catching up to do with the rest of Europe - decent cycle tracks, lots of clean parks, cafés which overlook the parks.... ohhh I could go on (and on and on)

PosieParker Tue 31-Aug-10 18:25:32

Firstly we need to export about 50% of the adult population who no longer have small children, or never had them.

Accept BF, if we can feed our babies well in public perhaps they'll be allowed to feed when they're a little older!!

Better public transport.

Children free for longer, I don't want to pay loads of money to go in places because my dcs are over three.

Better food and tolerance in restaurants. My dcs want a half portion of decent food not a shite menu.

Maybe set days where children can eat out in certain restaurants...then their parents can go back another time!!

Message withdrawn

Actually if you want to get this right you need to look at what does work. I would say Centerparcs is so good because they have thought about it from a kids PoV - all the restaurants have somewhere to play, intercourse snacks at some places (e.g. Bella Italia) and soft play or toys in most eating places.

gigglewitch Tue 31-Aug-10 18:38:26

wmmc ... intercourse snacks grin interesting

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Tue 31-Aug-10 18:44:16

What do you mean by family friendly?

Lots of places have great facilities for kids...problem is people don't like children around, look at that campaign for segregating families on flights. IMO we need a change in attitude - if people in the UK were more relaxed about kids in general then the rest of the stuff would just flow.

There was someone on the radio the other day organising a campaign to prevent the building of a new playpark in a local field FFS

Birdly Tue 31-Aug-10 18:46:13

Personally, I'd love to see some sort of loud bang and puff of smoke, then come out the other side of it into a world where I could find well-paid work that suits me and also fits around school hours and holidays. Flying pig, anyone? grin

gigglewitch - mind out of the gutter please grin - crudites and breadsticks are the norm.

Miggsie Tue 31-Aug-10 18:51:49

I think we are getting better about young children but we are crap crap crap at providing facilities for 12-16 year olds.

Yes, child care that is affordable and not the make or break item on whether to go back to work. Better holiday play schemes that is not dependent on where you live would be nice too.

Even better, make parliament and schools work without massive great holidays all over the place, this academic school year is based on the medieval agricultural calendar and has no relevance to modern life! Then parents wouldn't be eking out their leave and bargaining their kids with friends or paying a fortune for holiday camps on a regular basis.

Can we build more decent sized family homes with gardens as well? Not 400 "luxury flats" in a space where they used to be 5 family homes with gardens.

Make any new development of homes illegal unless the devlopers and council can prove that the 100 extra households will be matched by a similar increase in school, play parks, doctor and dentist provision. So parents don't scrabble for school places and affordable dentistry. Then children and families will be the centre of planning and community decisions.

Todays vexing question: Why does the local hairdressers put up its prices during half term? It shouldn't be allowed, pure profiteering.

mollyroger Tue 31-Aug-10 19:05:43

agree about child prices.
for example - some places charge full price at 12.
In our town, full price on buses is over 10
(on trains it is over 16)

some restaurants child meals only go up to 10 but my 11 year old can't eat an adult portion (and isn't that keen on confit of olives in a fou fou sauce, either)

some festivals charge full prices for over 12s.

when is a child not a child? When we can screw a few more quid out of parents, that's when.

ChippyMinton Tue 31-Aug-10 19:09:30

A good starting point would be to compile a list of places that are family-friendly, and identify what makes them so.

For example, today at a National Trust property the staff (volunteers all) couldn't have been more helpful, offering to fill the DC's drink bottles with tap water, offering advice on which woodland walk was buggy-friendly etc.

Restaurants like Pizza Express and Nando's offer a good food, quick service, crayons etc, but still maintain a grown-up ambience.

There are wider social issues though, like childcare (especially for primary-school age children, before and after school and holiday care), which need to be tackled as a priority.

babster Tue 31-Aug-10 19:14:03

I would love hotels to realise that some families have 3... yes 3! children and please could they provide a family room which will accommodate us all. Sofabeds/bunkbeds are fine, we don't mind that... just don't make us take two double rooms 'cos then we probably can't afford to take the trip.

clippityclop Tue 31-Aug-10 19:20:22

Agree with ChippyMinton and how about a Mumsnet award for the best? Catergories could include shops, cafe, pub, retail holiday company etc as highlighted in earlier posts. Tour and holiday in the UK about twice a year with DCx2 under 10 and rarely have problems. Do have 'mummy's pencil case' in bag though with own supply of crayons and puzzle books! Chance of comimg across playgrounds in UK while travelling etc is higher than in other countries we've visited.

Public toilets should always have a child-height sink. I am sick to death of visiting service stations etc where I've had to stand on one leg and raise the other knee up to try and sit my child on it so that they can reach the sink.

MmeLindt Tue 31-Aug-10 19:32:10

I like the idea of an "MN Family Friendly Establishment Award".

Just thought of something else that I love about Switzerland. The council organize and part-fund extra curricular activities for children. I have signed my DC up for a weekly pottery course. They also do weekly ski lessons.

When I was young we went to the local community center. Have they died off? Haven't heard any one mention them for ages. They were great for giving pre-teens and teenagers something to do.

IMoveTheStars Tue 31-Aug-10 19:37:49

Ikea have the right idea with the restaurant/child friendly areas. John Lewis has got it right with baby changing /feeding facilities. Most other companies could make life easier for many parents by simply following their example.

bronze Tue 31-Aug-10 19:43:43

trains like the norwegian ones

I also love John Lewis's parents room with separate toilet with a mummy loo and a child loo and a potty. All three of us sit in a row peeing and it's fab! <wonders why DH refuses to come shopping with us!>

pernickety Tue 31-Aug-10 19:50:26

More family rooms or at least adjoining rooms in hotels.

One thing we recently noticed on holiday in France, waiting staff were very good at bringing out the children's food first.

Reduced cost. Everything is so expensive: swimming, cinema, entrance fees to visitor attractions. A child-price should be at least half the adult entrance like it used to be. Now you find the child price is just a pound or fifty pence less than the adult price. pointless reduction.

I'd quite like not to have to pay for swimming at all when I am taking my not-able-to-swim child to the swimming pool. It's not like I get to do any swimming.

Ditto with the cinema. An independent cinema in my town would let parents pay the child price if they were accompanying a child to a child-rated film.

CMOTdibbler Tue 31-Aug-10 20:16:29

I'm not really bothered by childrens menus - but I like to be offered half portions of the normal menu, or to order a starter with a half portion of a side dish. If there is a childrens menu, then pictures of the food is really helpful to non readers/those liable to throw a strop if the food doesn't look like they expect.

I don't like childrens areas in restaurants - I want ds to sit at the table, not be agitating to go off to that. Childrens size cutlery is much appreciated, as are booster seats and clean highchairs, especially those that actually pull up to the table.

Nice toilets with a parent and child cubicle, and a potty are fab.

Of course, I'd also like more truly accessible toilets for those disabled people who can't transfer - with changing tables etc, you should be able to get round
d any shop with a pram or wheelchair, and indeed actually get into those buildings. Its annoying as a parent to not access places easily, but they can carry children - a disabled person has no choice

Alibabaandthe40nappies Tue 31-Aug-10 20:24:16

I agree about highchairs. Nothing more annoying, or more likely to lead to a noisy toddler, than a highchair with one of those massive trays on it which mean that your toddler is sitting 2 foot back from the table. Drives me mad.

Birdly Tue 31-Aug-10 20:29:08

Agree re cost of cinema. I took our 2 DC to see Toy Story 3, and the price of 3 tickets (no child discount, kids pay same price as adults), plus booking fee, plus medium popcorn and bag of Aero chocs was about £25!!!!

Agree also re cost of days out to family attractions. Ridiculous. Thank goodness for Tesco Clubcard! grin

Lilyloo Tue 31-Aug-10 20:33:14

Why are the kids clothing sections always placed on higher floors so you have to join the massive lift queue.

We have one really good pub near us that has a play area behind a glass screen , we can have a meal watch the kids play , great !!

Merrylegs Tue 31-Aug-10 20:48:28

Clarks shoe shop in Norwich. Why do you have the kids shoes on the first floor?

maxmissie Tue 31-Aug-10 21:07:30

Family friendly to me means accessible, affordable and welcoming, hopefully all three together!

tbh pretty much agree with all comments/suggestions made so far but some of my bugbears:

Better choice/size of kids' food - should be able to offer two different size portions easily enough - quite often what my dd gets would be way too small for an older child, i.e. one sausage and small portion of beans, when menu was for upto 10 years old and sometimes can be too much for younger children. Also not sure why there has to be a separate menu for kids, why not offer smaller portions of adult meals? If kids menu is being offered then at least make it healthy and interesting - i.e. Ikea, Pizza Express and not just the same old nuggets etc.

Better baby changing facilities - they are often quite grim places which don't ever appear to see a cleaner, and why is there never a toilet in there, unless it's a disabled one? Would be so much easier to change nappy and go to loo myself or take dd then go to one cubicle and then another where have to leave ds in buggy outside whilst me/dd uses the loo. Only place I can remember finding a 'normal' loo in baby change is John Lewis. Ikea does at least have large loos you can fit in with a buggy.

Cheaper prices for kids - as already said before, often kids prices are not much less than the adults. Might visit more places if could actually afford it! One idea would be more cinema screenings for young children, i know some cinema chains do discounts for young kids on Sat morning but not one anywhere near us!

Babies/toddlers don't disappear over school holidays - pretty much anything aimed at babies/toddlers stops during summer hols etc - can understand why playgroups etc stop if run by mums with older kids and other helpers need a break at some point but why are the only things offered to entertain kids over the holidays by councils, attractions etc only ever for for older children? Can't see why some stuff for younger kids can't be put on as well, especially as the usual places i'd take them are crazy/busy with older kids. Not moaning about older kids needing entertainment but not sure why is always at expense of younger ones.

Some of the most family friendly places I have come across - John Lewis (friendly and sympathetic staff, good baby change facilities), Ikea (good and cheap food, generally geared up for kids), Pizza Express (good kids menu, welcoming to kids), sure there must be some more but can't think of them at the mo!

Think the idea for an award for most family friendly place is a good one.

Attenborough Tue 31-Aug-10 21:08:45

Like Franca and Birdly, this seems to me to be rather piddling stuff when the biggest issues with a lack of family-friendliness in this country could only be solved by:

1) sorting out workplace discrimination against parents and women of childbearing age;

2) making housing and quality childcare genuinely affordable.

I realise that Mumsnet's powers are finite, but raising the profile of those problems would be very welcome.

MsHighwater Tue 31-Aug-10 21:29:00

Save us from chicken nuggets, indifferent macaroni cheese, etc. I, too, would prefer to see child sized portions of the main menu dishes rather than, necessarily, having a separate kids menu. Of course there have to be things on the main menu that will scale down and that won't be too spicy, etc.

SirBoobAlot Tue 31-Aug-10 21:43:02

- Accessibility for buggies and wheelchairs. Some shops aisles are so close together you can't get down them.

- Changing facilities. Ideally, not just in disabled toilets, not combined with feeding rooms, and cleaned / nappy bins emptied on a regular basis. Because otherwise they stink. And especially if you're feeding your child in there too, its not pleasant. Also lowering / changing the design so they can be used by people in wheelchairs too.

- Recognise children as children when it comes to cost. On public transport, on days out, at local attractions...

- More help when feeding a baby in public. I know there are regulations meaning that smaller cafe's can't heat milk / food up for you any more, but the ones who have been happy to provide hot water / free baby food are the ones I / other friends with children certainly aim for.

- Better facilities for tweens / teens during the evenings and holidays. Anything to unplug them from the XBox grin

- Practical organising of shops. Children's areas that are on the ground floor are the most helpful, and worth going to, especially if there is only one lift in the shopping centre hmm

Bramshott Tue 31-Aug-10 21:49:03

Picnic spots with loos on the motorway like the French "Aires" - make travelling as a family SO much nicer than when the only place to stop is a consumer-fest service station and they only come every 60 miles.

SpeedyGonzalez Tue 31-Aug-10 22:00:01

I agree about toddler portions. How about half and quarter sized meal options? And while you're at it, rather than a separate kids' menu (or as well as), I'd like to see child-sized equivalents of some of the adults' meals.

Also plastic cups and straws in eateries.

UnquietDad Tue 31-Aug-10 22:02:00

Also, why are concert tickets for kids the same price as those for adults? Even when I took DD to see Miley - a child-friendly entertainer, you'd think - it was the same ticket price for both of us.

I know a seat is a seat, regardless of who occupies it, but if theatres and cinemas can do reduced children's tickets...

hotpotmama Tue 31-Aug-10 22:05:09

Having just come back from a holiday in Germany/ Austria, I think they know how to do the family friendly better than we do.

So many restaurants/ cafes over there have playgrounds for the kids. All have kids menus. You go up the top of a mountain and there is so much for kids to do its untrue.

The swimming pools are clean/ have got great slides/ baby pools and don't cost the earth.

I love the UK but it did seem a bit like the poor relation of Europe when we came home (especially as it was raining).

MmeLindt Tue 31-Aug-10 22:06:41

<awards UQD a medal of honor for surviving Miley concert>

UnquietDad Tue 31-Aug-10 22:54:45

MmeLindt Don't feel too sorry for me. There were a few acknowledgements that the show was "for the dads" too, if you know what I mean.

weblette Tue 31-Aug-10 23:15:49

Hmm I'll be honest, I'm really not sure about this campaign.

I think it'll alienate a heck of a lot of people who are either past the children stage and just had to lump it, or those who just didn't do the children thing and are sick of having to accommodate those who do or any number of others, including some parents who maybe don't think the world has to change itself completely to function around their precious little darlings.

How about a Britain that just considers the needs of everyone? Not just families with tinies but everyone.

If you look at the countries which are considered most 'child-friendly' it's actually bugger all to do with that - they're family-friendy so that everyone, granny and grandpa included, has a role, a value.

Grump over!

moondog Wed 01-Sep-10 00:23:07

Enough already of all these holier than thou campaigns.

Britain is plenty family friendly.
Anyone who thinks not needs their heads seeing to and a visit to most of the rest of the world where most kids don't even leave the house for years.

florencerose Wed 01-Sep-10 01:08:52

ah well my ideas range from the huge like attenborough to the tiny like plastic cups in cafes, and putting kiddie stuff on ground floors some shops are really bad at this grown men either will or will not shop putting their stuff on the ground floor will I expect make no difference I have walked out of lots of shops when I see the baby stuff is up/down stairs
the childrens food ideas on here are good as are the pricing suggestions, personally paying for anyone older than reception seems like a reasonable suggestion.
I think more needs to be done to help older children find suitable entertainment, we need to stop short changing them when it comes to education and where I am think about swimming facilities for young children/families with more than 2 children. Importantly we need to allow children to be children
the last 2 posters have a point but it doesn't mean that we shouldn't consider our own back yard

Tortington Wed 01-Sep-10 01:31:01

i think if you are going to do it - it should perhaps run something like the investors in people award which companies strive for.

i think as well as looking at retail places and the obvious, it would be good if you looked at customer service areas of councils and such. often people go tot he council offices becuase they are in a pickle of some kind, and they are asked to go into an office which isn't v. child friendly, rarely any toys ( incase kid eats them and they get sued) , so thats what i would like to see the direction take.

foxytocin Wed 01-Sep-10 08:19:56

Have nursery care facilities (at least birth to 3yo) at the workplace.

supergreenuk Wed 01-Sep-10 08:28:20

Why do clothes shops always have the childrens section at the back of the shop or upstairs. Would be better to make it easy for parents to get to. Many times I have just decided not to bother looking if I have to tackle a lift.
Clothes shops always cram in as much as they can forgetting that buggies need to get round the shop and you end up dragging most of the clothes with you.
Supermarkets to design a hand basket that can rest on most buggies. When picking up a few things you can't push a buggy and trolly and carrying a hand basket is very difficult.
Restaurants.....clean your high chairs.

Anifrangapani Wed 01-Sep-10 08:44:00

Give kids a real, heard, voice in things that effect them. In my experience young people have fantastic imaginative ideas. I facillitate a youth council for our local parish where ideas can be aired and debated.

Ideas they have come up with are BMX track - they have designed and built it themselves, community bank - ironically used by more adults than the kids themselves, campaign for better transport links, Networking events where they can be matched with parents and other adults working in an area they are interested to get work placementsing to paid work.

Because all of these projects are led by them they respect them and use them. As a direct result we (parish council) are being used as a best practice model for changes in local councils and youth engagement. They are really proud that they have set up and run a system, and are now being asked by the political big hitters how they have achieved it and more importantly how it can be rolled out to other areas successfully.

To make the UK more family friendly everybody has to change their "kids are up to no good" default attitude and respect them for the fantastic people they are. Asking companies to make a marketing coup of "family friendly" status does nothing to change an underlying dislike that many people and society as general have towards people under 20.

Smithagain Wed 01-Sep-10 08:57:28

We are in the middle of doing a project in our church to review how "family friendly" we are. By far the most interesting thing that has emerged is the way that people of retirement age have started to speak out about their needs. And so have the single people - and those whose children have grown up and left home - and those with disabilities - etc - etc - etc

In fact, the further we get into the exercise, the more we are realising that it is not about pandering to children's needs. There is a much bigger issue about helping people of all generations to get along together and be tolerant of each others' circumstances.

So yes, adults need to be aware of children's needs to eat child-sized meals, run, play and make a noise. But children also need to learn to be gentle around frail elderly ladies who are worried that they will fall. And parents need to realise that they should intervene if their children are interrupting two people having a serious conversation. And everyone needs to realise that the teenager in a wheelchair who makes "funny noises" is perfectly capable of understanding what you say to her, even though she can't talk. And so it goes on ...

If Mumsnet could pull off a campaign that opened people's eyes to other peoples' needs - whether they be babies, toddlers, children, teenagers, adults or OAPs, that would be fantastic.

But please don't reduce it into another great long whinge about parking spaces, loos and baby changing facilities.

And we do all need to get over the fact that holidays will always be more expensive when the schools are off. It's called market economics and it is the way our entire country operates, along with most of the western world. So find some creative ways of holidaying on the cheap while your kids are at school and look forward to the day when they have grown up and you can do what you like!

juuule Wed 01-Sep-10 09:03:47

Great posts, Smithagain and Anifrangapani.

BornToFolk Wed 01-Sep-10 09:26:44

Excellent post Smithagain.

A friend of mine used to work in Gap and told me an interesting thing about how clothes shops (or at least Gap!) were laid out. Men's clothes are usually at the front because men won't walk through the women's or children's section to get to their stuff. Women, however, will walk through men's clothing to get to their section. So, I suppose they put children's clothes upstairs because people will go to the effort of getting up there.

tugamommy Wed 01-Sep-10 11:05:33

I think Britain is very good for children facilities, but in order to make it really 'child friendly' people's attitudes would need to change.

For example, we took dd to Rome when she was 1 yo. In terms of facilities it was an absolute nightmare, no nappy changing facilities anywhere, no crayons in the restaurants, no children's menus, etc. And yet, it was all so easy and pleasant because people love children there. In one restaurant where we ate a couple of times, a lady that worked there used to come and pick up dd and play with her for 10mins so we could eat. Also her grandson was there and they played together. which make it all so much easier.

It's the same in Portugal or Spain, facilities are rubbish, but there's a relaxed, friendly and most of all flexible attitude that makes it work. The facilities may not be there but people are happy to do their best to accomodate your needs. Whereas here, it's people's inflexibility that drives me insane! If it's not in the menu, if it's not how it's meant to be done or how they were told to do it, then it can't be done. I've asked for bread in restaurants because dd was crying with hunger / boredness and it's taken 15min for it to be processed via waiter / kitchen etc. Why they wouldn't go in the kitchen and get a slice of bread, even though it's not in the 'rules' I struggle to understand....

WreckOfTheHesperus Wed 01-Sep-10 11:30:54

Agree with affordable childcare, as per countries like Sweden.

But we could also do with a seismic cultural change to bring in shorter working hours; we work some of the longest ours in Europe. This would naturally also benefit people without children.

On a more achievable level, how about more surburban side streets being limited to 20 mph speed limits? 30mph really not necessary, and often dangerous, on many smaller streets.

Sammyuni Wed 01-Sep-10 12:36:53

You know i think many people to today live in mini islands containing just their immediate families a lot of people don't even know their neighbours. I think Britain would benefit a lot more especially in regards in the view of children if people were more socialable. I think kids would benefit more if they lived in a society where they had access to many positive role models in their lives after all human's culturally began this way.

As it is society views children as a hindrance/annoyance especially teenagers.

GetOrfMoiLand Wed 01-Sep-10 12:47:31

I think this country is family friendly enough.

Imo we don't need any more godforsaken child friendly restaurants with play areas and where children are allowed to run around and let off steam.

How about you just teach your child to sit down and be quiet for the duration of a meal without having to have primary coloured entertainment laid on?

GetOrfMoiLand Wed 01-Sep-10 12:48:47

Take down those mosquitos outside shops and not just assume that a bunch of 3 teenage kids walking together with a skatebaord under their arm are about to cause mischief.

UK is plenty tolerant of babies and toddlers, but views kids aged between 13 and 18 as teh antichrist.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Wed 01-Sep-10 12:56:47

GetOrf I agree about not needing loads of places with play areas etc.

One of the problems is that because such places exist, when you try and take your toddler to a 'normal' restaurant you get frowned at for daring to go anywhere other than the Harvester/Brewer's Fare/insert other vile chain with plastic overcooked food here.

cleanandclothed Wed 01-Sep-10 13:22:33

Agree about unisex changing facilities. And a child sized loo and basin would be great.

Saltire Wed 01-Sep-10 13:35:02

As the mother of 2 tall(ish) boys aged 12 and 10, I find it baffling that we often have to pay adult prices for them, especially in cafes restaurants etc.
Also we often go out to visit places when on UK holidays ( and they have all been UK as can't afford overseas during school hols) and a lot of palces charge for family tickets. On the whole they work out cheaper for us (example Paignton Zoo was £35 for the four of us, we were there for 5 hours and had a fab day) but we are a 2 child family, very few places seem to offer family tickets for 22 adults and 3/4/5 children" or "1 adult and 2/3/4 children". Indeed I saw a place which only offered a family ticket for 1 adult and 2 children, for £20 so "2" adult families then had to pay the £7.95 adult admission cost as well

SardineJam Wed 01-Sep-10 13:35:53

Parks, there are so few around where I live and where there are, they are aimed at older children, what about toddlers?

Its also nice to be able to sometimes go to the pub for dinner but again, around us, they dont allow anyone under 18 in - arent we all entitled to eat?
Pubs/restaurants definitely need to be more child friendly

HughRinal Wed 01-Sep-10 14:39:59

Generally I think we are incredibly family friendly as a country.

All I would like is clean toilets big enough to get a pushchair and a toddler in so you don't have to have a wee with the door wide open, so you can see them, or leave them with a random stranger outside before you pee your pants.

That's all.

turkeyboots Wed 01-Sep-10 14:43:53

Another vote for the "family loos" at Bluewater and Ikea. Fed up of peeing with the door open so DS in the pushchair doesn't freak out that he can't see me.

Need more facilities for teenagers, youth clubs and the like. My DC are all under 4, but my SiL is 16 and find it wrong that her social life revolves around the pub already. Teenagers need oppertunities and support to explore things. I spent my teenage years in Germany, where there were fabulous, free, youth centres with coffee shops and hanging out space that offered music classes, drama, sports, had youth workers and weren't attached to schools.

Firawla Wed 01-Sep-10 15:01:43

I find Britain quite family friendly already, we do have quite a lot for families and kids in London and generally people's attitudes are okay. Improvements I would like (although these are more difficult things not very easy to solve, improve...) is more accessible tubes in central london, alot of the further out stations are suitable for wheelchair/buggies (step free) but not many central ones. I know you can bump the buggy up steps etc but is so nice when you don't have to. Whenever they are doing improvements to stations could keep this in mind, like how kings cross has introduced some more lifts, but doing the whole lot at once probably way too expensive plus difficult as too many works would be going on. Would be good though, all new stations that are made should have steps free access from now on though imo, whether making new overground or extending underground lines or anything else.

The other thing is there really really is a lack of family sized housing in London, and the prices are crazy. Have seen some projects to make more family sized homes for affordable rent (for eg there is one being done on holloway road) we should have more of this kind of thing

suzikettles Wed 01-Sep-10 15:20:19

Here's an example of family friendly from Glasgow.

Bang in the middle of the city centre, the Gallery of Modern Art has a children's area (just a little corner but it's great) with games, books & drawing stuff all about art, shapes and colours. And in the basement is a public library with a fab children's reading room.

It's not the facilities - you get them everywhere - it's the fact that it's in the middle of the three busiest shopping streets in the city and so you can take a break if you're out with a fractious 3 year old and (here's the clever bit) not spend any money (unless you go to the cafe).

More places like that. Places where you can take a wee bit of time out - and it's great for everyone, not just children.

Tortington Wed 01-Sep-10 15:33:35

GetOrfMoiLand Wed 01-Sep-10 12:47:31
I think this country is family friendly enough.

Imo we don't need any more godforsaken child friendly restaurants with play areas and where children are allowed to run around and let off steam.

How about you just teach your child to sit down and be quiet for the duration of a meal without having to have primary coloured entertainment laid on?

i think i love you

GetOrfMoiLand Wed 01-Sep-10 15:39:12

grin grin grin custardo - think you can tell we are mothers of teens who have left the colouring pencils at a restaurant waaaaaaay behind us (thank god and all his cherubim)

bbee Wed 01-Sep-10 15:46:33

Funny that GetOrfMoiLand, I was scanning down to see if anyone has already said what Custardo has said!

bbee Wed 01-Sep-10 15:49:16

Oh and I don't have teenagers yet - just trying to bring my lil ones up to respect others (boy oh boy now that probably makes me sound like a very old parent!).

GetOrfMoiLand Wed 01-Sep-10 15:51:47

Yes, what is wrong with hissing at your children out of the corner of your mouth 'keep that racket down, you're showing me up'

compo Wed 01-Sep-10 15:52:01

'foxytocin Wed 01-Sep-10 08:19:56
Have nursery care facilities (at least birth to 3yo) at the workplace.'

pie in the sky or what?!?

juuule Wed 01-Sep-10 16:04:26

"pie in the sky or what?!?"

The place my sister worked at had an attached creche if that's the sort of thing that is meant.

appledumpling Wed 01-Sep-10 16:05:45

Adult food but a child's portion. So many places assume you want your children to eat crap. Er, no, I don't.

Buses that I can take the buggy on. I know the old-style ones are being phased out round here but they always seem to turn up when I actually need to be somewhere or am very tired and don't want to walk.

Buggy-friendly loos. We've just been in town and it's a nightmare (Mothercare, that means you too). There are lots of places where I can change DD (and could have fed her when she was smaller) - it would be so helpful to have a loo as well.

MmeLindt Wed 01-Sep-10 17:21:47

My children are more than able to go to a normal restaurant without showing me up. We went for lunch today and I took stuff to keep them amused.

Saying that, if i am choosing a restaurant I do go for htose that have at least a tub iof coloring pencils as it saves me schepping all the stuff with me.

I think that the campaign is a good idea, even if it just highlights which places are good to visit with children. In the current climate I cannot see the government or local authorities signing off anything that is going to cost a lot of money though.

mollyroger Wed 01-Sep-10 17:21:59

would it be bad taste to suggest integration, not segregation. I'm fed up everything being polarised into kiddy-friendly and adult-only. There has to be a middle ground? That would be family friendly. A family is not just about the children, is it?

SpeedyGonzalez Wed 01-Sep-10 17:42:51

Has anyone mentioned house building yet? That current thread about British houses is jam-packed with ideas for how to make houses function well for family life.

Dominique07 Wed 01-Sep-10 17:49:00

To make Britain more family friendly lets start with London, people who help your child when he falls over on the bus, good, a bus driver who can help you out when you're struggling with a pushchair and toddler and people who wont move out of the way, even better,

busy streets by busy roads with narrow pavements - really unhelpful, big wide pavements with trees and seats and room for kids to run about away from the road - excellent,

people's attitudes to kids;
when people on the bus take an active interest in helping you stop your toddler screaming for the whole journey - helpful,

shop keepers who suggest you leave the toddler and buggy with him so you can browse in peace and his shop display is safe - thank you! (even if you are distracting him with a packet of sweets) Hmm... But this is part of the problem of taking kids out, the general rule is, he can do anything but not scream which is completely letting your child get away with anti social behaviour and holding you to ransom.

hmc Wed 01-Sep-10 19:17:11

It's attitudes, attitudes, attitudes - not sure what you can do about the miserable purse lipped intolerance that many people display toward children

KiwiKat Wed 01-Sep-10 19:28:55

Talking about London - access to the tube for prams and wheelchairs - withOUT having to carry or bump the beknighted things down every single step. DH tells me that lifts are incredibly expensive, but lift access in every station is still a dream of mine.

Sorry, probably been said already but am in a hurry!

Swimming pool family cubicles - impossible to take two children swimming on your own without them

Small portions in restaurants, and not all children like crap food - my 4yo won't eat chips and isn't keen on baked beans.....

Not all families are two adults and two children, please please please family tickets to things that cater for more than two children

Airlines - why do people with young children always get allocated the crap seats at the back, where it's bumpiest?

More later

Agree with everyone who says we are already family/child friendly. Not only do most cafes/restaurants offer crayons etc, it's hardly a massive effort to bring paper/pens with you, is it? There are parks, museums, galleries everywhere. Trick is teaching your children to behave in a grown-up world, not the other way round!
I think affordable child-care is probably the biggest issue.
Having said all that, I hate the big gaps between platforms and (overground) trains. They are terrifying, whether carrying a child or buggy! But I think this may be beyond Mumsnet's remit?

PS regarding portions in restaurants, I tend to find that most decent places will do you a half-size portion if you just ask, even if it's not advertised as such. Or order a starter?
Maybe I am smug easily pleased but I don't notice half the problems brought up on this thread.
But I do like the loos at Bluewater grin.

theboobmeister Wed 01-Sep-10 22:23:00

What retailers do or don't do doesn't make a huge impact on my life, I must admit. I just vote with my feet and go to the family-friendly places, which receive a clear incentive in the form of extra business from families (surely retailers 'get' this already, do we honestly need a campaign to tell them??)

However, employers could make a significant improvement to the quality of my family life by a massive expansion of part-time work. And not just supermarket jobs or "get rich quick from home" schemes, thanks - we need a lot more professional jobs to be available part-time.

I think many working parents would go part-time given the chance, but currently they have few options, which is a ludicrous waste of their skills and education. And in a time of rising unemployment, this would be a sensible way to spread what work there is around more evenly.

Frizbe Wed 01-Sep-10 23:39:48

I'll echo the post that asked for family rooms that can sleep 5 people, I don't want two rooms for our family when I go to a hotel (particularly as no one in UK can ever guarantee adjoining rooms when you book). I'd just like to be able to have us all in one room for the night! Also like the idea of more suite hotels, a la citidines.

GraceK Wed 01-Sep-10 23:51:54

I like the free balloons that are filled with helium - then you can tie them to the wrist of your mischeavious toddler & see where they are when they're hiding under the clothing racks.

I think Britain is pretty good for baby-changing facilities, but would like more smaller toilets with inset loo seats so potty trained toddlers don't have to balance over the gaping loo. Plus sinks at small people level. No hand driers in the "kids" loos as I know lots of children including DD1 who are terrified of them - they're v. noisy & go off unexpectedly when they walk underneath them. More paper towels even where there are hand dryers for the same reason.

When there is a big queue for the ladies, I wish the grown ups would occasionally let the toddler who's hopping from foot to foot jump the queue. One of the reasons we like John Lewis is the family loos don't tend to have big queues & have room for a buggy & a small person loo (though it could do with a small person loo-seat & a step).

The putting kids clothes upstairs thing is really annoying but the companies make more money from the grown up girlies. When H&M did this in Southampton (where they only have a 1 buggy-sized lift) the staff said they'd complained but were told it was an international store plan from head office.

Re crayons in restaurants - surely their job is to provide you with decent food (hopefully in sensible sized portions)? As a parent can't you take crayons & paper? When places do have them, they tend to need sharpening anyway.

Maternity hospital beds with side-car cots so cathered, stitched ladies can reach their newborn children to feed them without calling (the already busy) staff or injuring themselves further attempting to reach them on their own.

Like the idea of Mumsnet Awards.

bluefinger Thu 02-Sep-10 00:52:58

I love ikea, it's very child friendly, my dc's adore the smaland thingy, childrens portions in the restaurant are also reasonable.

I would agree with the toddler/baby sized portions in restaurants. Ds2 is 10 months old, he eats a few blardy mouthfulls, I don't appreciate being charged £4 for it.

We often go to wetherspoons for a meal as it's close, the children's portions in there are ridiculous. They have the same sized plates as adults, I had a burger and dd had the chicken nuggets, she got more chips than me!

Otherwise it is the typical putting childrens dept's on higher floors/at the back. No floor space for buggy's, desirable (to a child) sweets/gum etc at buggy height at tills. I lost count of the amount of times dd shoplifted some random item from the local shop.

I also think combined feeding/changing rooms are minging. I have never seen a bf'd Mum in one of them yet. Who the fuck wants to sit and feed and watch/smell shitty arses for the duration.

bluefinger Thu 02-Sep-10 00:55:31

I like the loos at my local shopping centre, they have buggy ones which are large and can fit buggy plus children in. Shame they are usually filled with single women though, selfish buggers.

bluefinger Thu 02-Sep-10 01:01:50

To the people who don't want any more child friendly places, I find the only place my children can actually let off steam and run around like loons is soft play (hell on earth). Even in parks etc you will get the tutters, my children are LOUD I can't help it, I do not run them by remote control. If I could get them to shut up for 5 minutes I bloody well would.

YunoYurbubson Thu 02-Sep-10 04:18:35

I am a little unclear about this whole concept.

What is family friendly to one MNer is not to another.

The ideas on this thread are not revolutionary and anyone who owns a cafe or restaurant has made their choice to either provide colouring pencils or not. We can't assume they ought to. Maybe they don't want to.

I am not convinced we can start making demands on private enterprises. Pandering to the wants of parents is not always profitable.

And in my experience, council run things are very family friendly already (if, by family friendly you mean high chairs, colouring in on the children's menu, wheelchair accessible, baby changing facilities).

I DO like the idea of a MN badge of approval though. Rewarding businesses that work for families, rather than MAKING Britian be family friendly.

gorionine Thu 02-Sep-10 09:57:20

The only thing I would change are the children menu, they should not always consist in

fish finger/chicken nugets
french fries/mash potatoe

I was born and raised in Switzerland, it might have changed now but the notion of "special children food" was inexistant and we always ate a smaller plate of the same food as grown ups.

I think that a guide that lists places that offer things like colouring books, puzzles and other child friendly services is a good idea but why force all places to offer that? Why not teach our children that sometimes if you go out to eat , what you do is actually eat and have a conversation with your family and nothing else?

pebblejones Thu 02-Sep-10 11:26:22

I would like to see every shopping centre/superstore/restaurant have a baby change/family room where either my DH or me or both of us could change nappies, with a separate area for feeding. I hate places who have a baby change area that turns out to be a hard worktop within the ladies toilets! I would like to be able to manoevre my buggy around a shop easily but rarely can because the shops are overfilled and half the time it's like a maze! In fact I would like all shopping centres/superstores to follow the example if Westfield in London, which is very baby/child friendly even down to their fantastic cars/buses etc for children to ride around the shops in!
I also would like to see more safe, well manintained playgrounds and parks.
And finally for people to be more tolerant of families and babies, babies cry, toddlers have tantrums, we don't need everyone tutting and shaking their heads at us!

Bluefinger, do the restaurants insist you order a child's meal for your baby? I've always taken my own food for babies or given them bits off my plate.

Also, you don't have to buy a meal for each child. Until DD was 4 we always ordered a child meal for DS and asked for an extra plate and they shared.
We've done this in England and France and the USA.
No restaurant staff have ever raised an eyebrow at this. Sometimes they even brought out the one meal on two plates which I always thought was very respectful of her feelings.

MrsStig Thu 02-Sep-10 12:52:22

I too like the MN badge of approval idea.

WreckOfTheHesperus Thu 02-Sep-10 13:29:12

I would like to see medium and large sized companies being obliged to publish their family friendly policies e.g. maternity leave, paternity leave, parental leave, flexible working etc etc on their websites.

These are important issues to understand when applying for a job, but are not the kind of questions that you can usually ask at the job interview itself...

happystressedmum Thu 02-Sep-10 17:40:55

Have read some of the thread so forgive me if already said. My observations are:

Bluewater shopping centre is very family friendly re toilets and are kept clean and can accommodate double buggies etc. I still dont like letting my 8 year old (I also have a 3 year old) to go into the mens toilet that he now insists on and (maybe) understandly is embarrassed to go the ladies now! However the family rooms accommodate us all.

I hate the fact that most 'family-friendly' restaurants always have chicken nuggets, chips, sausages etc which my children do not eat - there are few exceptions but not many. I tend to now order from the main 'adult' menu and my two share. My children also love Yo sushi which is surprisingly family-friendly and the children love sitting at 'the bar' and the whole experience.

We have a house in Spain and I love the fact that they are generally child friendly and are warm and welcoming in bars and restaurants and let the children sit at the bar and have a juice and have provided warm milk in a cup with a straw and the tapas size portions are perfect for kids. It is noticeable when we come home from Spain where you are looked upon by many as a nuisance because you have children/pushchair and my children are always well-behaved in restaurants.

I also hate places that want your money and purport to be child-friendly when in fact they are not. Wetherspoon is the worst for this. They say they are child-friendly but if you take children in and order a drink then your child MUST eat and you are only allowed two drinks (not that I want to go and get hammered with my children but it is the way that they make you feel immediately uncomfortable with children) - we went once for a late breakfast and would never go again at the way they treated us. Just be upfront and say no children - thats fine by me but dont purport to be something you are not as clearly you do not want children in there just our money.

yesway Fri 03-Sep-10 11:15:45

I agree with smithagain.

It's interesting how uninspiring the responses have been given the broad remit of looking at "every aspect of how a company operates." Perhaps we've come to accept how companies work and don't question their marketing tactics etc...

I think one way we're ahead of many countries is in the number of companies who let you order online and have things delivered - now that is family friendly. Perhaps they could do with improving what happens when you're out though.

Message withdrawn

LynetteScavo Fri 03-Sep-10 16:55:03

Ah, family toilets...for years I just didn't go to the loo when out because getting into a cublicle with a baby and toddler is impossible. And like hell I was going to leave the baby outside the cubicle, no matter how quick my wee.

Dione Fri 03-Sep-10 19:38:14

More men in childcare! This will involve a number of things: Accepting that men and women are equal; That childcare is important to all and as such professional childcare warrants a proper wage (we pay more for car servicing than childcare, hence mechanics are paid more than childminders); acknowledgement that children and the elderly are an integral part of our community; and last but not least, that children are important and not just things that should be controlled in public.

dott Fri 03-Sep-10 20:58:26

- good quality affordable childcare for all like e.g. France has. Currently many families on modest incomes cannot afford for the 'second parent' to work as the childcare bill is bigger than the amount that the parent would earn. Madness.

- companies have good policies for working parents and can demonstrate that these are implemented.

- more protection for fathers who want to work part time or flexibly. This would involve a change to the current law. At the moment they are limited if an employer refuses, a woman may have an indirect sex discrimination claim a man's position is much trickier. This is unfair on men and it makes the situation more problematic for mothers as it entrenches mothers into part time work. If the situation was more equal mothers would face less discrimination.

ThePlanningCommittee Fri 03-Sep-10 23:48:45

SpeedyGonzalez, the British Houses thread sounds really interesting. Have tried to search for it but can't find it.

Pleasse can you or some other kind soul post a link? TIA

auntyjude Sat 04-Sep-10 01:41:50

better choice on the child's menu, some places think its ok to serve any old crap at extortionate prices-do smaller portions of proper food please

children's departments on the GROUND floor!

I have a great idea for a company if anyone interested, around rewards for children-like our reward cards-mummy endorses at the checkout if child has been good, on 3rd visit with good behaviour, they get a treat!

FattyArbuckel Sat 04-Sep-10 11:10:35

Our new shopping centre has a family toilet - a huge cubicle way big enough for a big pram plus it has one adult size toilet and one child size toilet.

There should certainly be more of these family toilets around imo.

It is far too difficult to access buses with little ones, surely we can improve on this situation?

Message withdrawn

WoodyAllen Sat 04-Sep-10 11:54:59

I think the UK is more family friendly than most of Europe if you mean putting highchairs, kids menus, crayons etc in to restaurants. Just back from France and all kids food was burger and fries. No child provision re chairs, pencils tc at all. Still welcoming to children but not as geared up for them. Still we do expect a lot to be child-centred. We went out a lot in the 1970s and just ate some of mum and dad's stuff and mucked about under the table. For me the attitude matters much more than the actual equipment etc.

We have brought ours up to be food snobs though. Yes indeed. They are quite discerning now and hate the bready pizzas with a smear of tinny tomato puree and two threads of rubber cheese etc. More imagination and smaller portions.

ItalyLovingMummy Sat 04-Sep-10 14:01:44

I think in terms of facilities the UK is very child friendly in comparison to many other countries (although France definitely has the best motorway stops with fab toilets for toddlers and baby changing facilities). However, I agree with many posters on here who have said that what really needs to change is people's unfriendly attitudes to children (and teens) in the UK. Yes, there are some horrible children around (as there are in other countries), but on the whole most children are ok and its funny how in the rest of Europe there are less anti-social problems and children aren't looked down upon as if they're a piece of shat. I don't expect everyone to love my child, but when I walk into a cafe or restaurant with him and evil/miserable crones glare at my DS when he hasn't made a peep is just plain weird.

ItalyLovingMummy Sat 04-Sep-10 14:03:36

ps. forgot to add, I agree with WoodyAllen and others who have said they don't want rubbery rubbish nuggets and pizzas for their DCs. I just give my DS some of my food as he is only 2 for goodness sake and wants to eat a small portion of something tasty and healthy!

Greenshadow Sat 04-Sep-10 15:55:51

Funny, I must live in a different part of the country to a lot of you.

Can't remember ever experiencing anti-child attitudes when out and about.
Never been a shortage of somewhere to stop and eat. When they were little, they just shared some of ours or each others food or as others have suggested, a starter. We've also asked for half size meals.

As to the cost of tickets etc, would love there to be a standard age when child prices change to adult - as long as it is higher (16?) rather than lower. Appreciate this can be difficult as these are businesses we're talking about, not charities, and a child of 5 still takes a whole seat or whatever, that an adult could have had at full rate.

Do agree that larger loo cubicles are useful though.

Message withdrawn

chibi Sun 05-Sep-10 09:37:27

just got back from canada + many restaurants give small children their drinks in lidded cups with straws (like a maccy d takeaway style cup iyswim)

3 y old dd can drink out of an open cup, but filled to the brim as they are in restaurants is tempting fate!

grannieonabike Sun 05-Sep-10 11:55:20

There are some great ideas here - haven't read them all.

What kids need is safe space to play indoors and outdoors, good food and fresh air to breathe.

Macdonalds and department stores will make you pay for any child-friendly policies. That's why they have them, after all, to entice you in. They put their prices up to pay for every new, bigger toilet.

But you pay for them already as a tax payer, so why not get facilities for your children for free?

So - more parks (+ park keeper), soft play areas (brilliant invention!), leisure centres - and libraries and parents and toddler groups open at weekends.

More car-free areas in towns and cities.

Free public transport for kids.

Decent, affordable housing near to good schools and parks.

Rewarding jobs for parents.

I could go on - but am I boring you?

grannieonabike Sun 05-Sep-10 11:55:47

And why not get together with a friend and her kids and colonise a local cafe? If you go often enough, your presence there will encourage other families to join you and as you get to know the owner you will be able to request things that are not on the menu - beans on toast for a quid, for example. Much easier than a trip into town and your child will get used to a variety of food if you try different things from the menu.

Rosa Sun 05-Sep-10 13:06:31

For people coming into the country and also leaving make the airports more child friendly, More baby changing ( and well signposted) WITH a chair inside for BF mothers who don't want to sit in a chair with arm rests so they can't fit the baby in there as well. Or who would like a bit or privacy.
A decent even if small playing area for children with a few activities . Not just the money grabbing ride on machines.
If other Worldwide airports can manage it then so should we !

WoodyAllen Mon 06-Sep-10 11:18:11

Definitely more areas in towns with no cars. Tree and kids. Tra la la.

Rosa - I NEEDED a chair with arms when I was BF to mimic the huge mound of pillows and scaffolding I had to construct at home. Never got the hang of standing in the street chatting and feeding but big admiration for the friends who did.

Vickimumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 14-Sep-10 09:22:38

This is a really fascinating thread - we have been talking about FF in the office (as you might guess!) and we all agreed that going out to eat was one of the things that springs to mind first. Those chicken nuggets and places that allow 2 inches between tables. I am going to be putting together the Mumsnet FF pledge (charter/challenge - name tbc)so I'm starting to group together some of the Big Issues! I'd love to have some more feedback - like what does FF mean for older children? What happens when your kids hit 8/9/10 and up. What about older children and transport - or teenagers and nights out? It would also be good to get some thoughts on some of the big sectors and how they are doing - supermarkets, theme parks/attractions, airline? Any more thoughts very helpful! smile Vicki MNHQ

Vickimumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 15-Sep-10 15:15:00


Really interested to see your post about marketing? This is an area I think is absolutely part of FF. Tell me more! Vicki MNHQ

asuwere Wed 15-Sep-10 19:45:16

have skim read thread but agree with many posts.

HATE narrow aisles or displays in middle of aisles so you can't navigate a pram easily (mothercare is the place that does this and annoys me the most!)

HATE baby/toddler trolleys that are secured (£1 coin ones) 200yds from parking so you have to carry kids to trolley on way to shop then on way back, you need to leave your kids in the car to take the trolley back for your £1 back! (Morrisons!!)

LOVE family toilets where you can get pram in and has 2 toilets so you and toddler can pee at same time.

HATE ridiculous pricing for family attractions. Also why do they have to increase the prices during the holidays when they are likely to get more business anyway?! Just seems greedy.

Agree with posts about chicken nuggets etc - kids menus are generally all the same rubbish. Also, they should never have a picture of the desserts on the menu as it makes it even more difficult trying to get a toddler to choose between nuggets and macaroni when they want the ice cream that looks so good! (unless that's just my toddler!)

Have to say though, family friendly is a hard thing to achieve as each family is looking for a different thing. Eg. familys with 3 infants want different facilities to family's with 2 teenagers, or single parent family's want different pricing than 2 parent family's.

SuiGeneris Thu 16-Sep-10 09:35:48

Facilities, as in baby-changing rooms etc, are usually there (though cleanliness is almost always less than one would wish), it is the attitudes of people who are, sometimes (well, often), family-unfriendly.

Family-friendly labelling is very helpful, but also sad that families should feel confined to certain places and times.

So much for the ideological stand. Now for the practical wishlist:

1) clean baby-changing areas and loos. Babies are more delicate than adults and changing them is generally messier than (well-brought-up) adults using loos. So please clean the baby-changing areas more often and do not site them in other people's (disabled or single-sex) loos.

2) for restaurants/cafes/other places where one sits down for a while and might wish to feed a baby: spare a thought for the poor mother and have at least some seating that in comfortable for breastfeeding. Armchairs, sofas, banquettes and maybe some cushions. One of our local family-friendly cafes only has church-hall-style hard-back wooden chairs. I sometimes feel feeding standing up might be more comfortable...

3) build the loos so that it is possible to go back to the table after having washed one's hands without touching the doors/handles/etc. Given how many people do not wash their hands after using the loos...need I say more?

4) offer half or quarter portions of the main menu items, not kiddie-junk. Believe it or not most DCs do NOT survive on burgers, chicken nuggets and fries. And please let adults also pick off the half or quarter portion menus. Not all of us eat like bulls (especially when one has been up since 6am and needs to have 4 meals a day to keep milk supply constant).

5) turn down the aircon, or save some warmer areas for families with young children (and chilled foreign mothers like I guess). This maybe a niche request, but have had to leave places that were airconditioned to such arctic levels that it was too cold to breastfeed or too cold for the baby, dressed in all of its clothes, to remain asleep in the pram.

etc, etc, etc.

philmassive Thu 16-Sep-10 16:16:35

Are we including work places in this? I really think we should!

Name and shame those companies with 'family friendly' policies splashed all over their recruitment websites but who forget all about them at the sharp end. I'm thinking of an orange-shirted electrical retailer as I write!

We should award and applaud those workplaces and companies who are truly family friendly such as Travel Counsellors. And let mumsnetters vote for their workplaces who have good practice from creches to working from home days. They must be out there!

amhavingabaday Thu 16-Sep-10 23:15:28

Bring back "good quality" as in clean public toilets, more of them and have people look after them 24 7. My kids are always needing the loo when I'm out and about.

Vickimumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 17-Sep-10 08:03:13

Interesting that you should bring up work places - an earlier post suggested that workplaces should have to put up their Ff policies because it is very hard to find out what they are and impossible to ask at the job interview. Like the idea of Mumsnetters voting for their favourite employee. Speaking of which, fresh(ish) from the holiday season what do you think to airlines? Any favourites? Vicki MNHQ

philmassive Fri 17-Sep-10 09:39:21

The thing with workplaces is more to do with finding out what actually happens rather than what they claim happens. Maybe a poll where mumsnetters grade their workplaces and then compare to the claims they make?

My dh's 'family friendly' workplace expects him to work until 8pm every Christmas eve and be in work at 7am on boxing day. No leave allowed, yet check their website and they claim to have family friendly credentials. Not the best example but you can see what I mean?

Vickimumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 20-Sep-10 15:44:04

completely agree - and I think fathers find it especially hard to get their bosses to rememeber thy have families to go home to. Within this campaign we'll be auditing companies so they will have to demonstrate what they actually do - not just what they say they do. We'll be doing some mystery shopping as well.....

EmilyMaryDavis Wed 17-Nov-10 20:28:50

40 years of the family-unfriendly Page 3:

The Sun’s page 3 feature has now been going for 40 years, and some say is central to its success. However, the Conservative now say they want to halt the ‘sexualisation of children‘.

Would Cameron consider taking action or making a comment regarding the Sun’s ‘page 3&#8242; soft porn then? It is of course widely consumed in public spaces where children are often exposed to it.

Or would he not want to confront the paper in this way?

Some argue the Sun isn’t really aimed at kids, so it’s not really the same issue. But it’s culturally acceptable for adults leave it around kids of all ages in cafes, schools, hairdressers, and even at home.

I know I remember the unsettled and ashamed feeling in seeing such soft-porn in newspaper rags on the floor when I was too young.

Conversely, teenage girls may decide, for example, that these “glamour-models” are a role-model for them before they have even become emotionally mature enough to make an adult decision.

And boys have regularly brought it into schools I've worked in - and it has been seen as acceptable and not commented upon by other teachers at all.

In his explanation of the Conservatives pledge, Cameron talked of the importance of not exposing his children to Lily Allen lyrics because he thinks they aren’t appropriate. But Lily Allen too would argue that her songs aren’t necessarily made for consumption by children.

David Cameron should at least state whether he thinks newspapers with soft porn content are inappropriate to consume in public places, as he says of Lily Allen’s lyrics.

And if the Conservatives, or Cameron himself, would not consider raising the issue, then what is the point of their pledge?

Might it have more to do with their concern for the business interests of News International, than their wish to make Britain ‘the most family-friendly country in the world’?

moonbells Wed 24-Nov-10 14:14:24

Only just spotted this thread hmm

As a full-time working mum, I have two major grumbles.

School hours do not equal work hours. I have two options when ds goes to school - pay £££ for breakfast and after-school clubs, or pay £££ for a childminder to do the dropping-off and picking up for me.

When I enquired about after-school clubs at one local school, they said they didn't allow reception-age children to stay longer than 3.15 as it was such a long day otherwise.

Nurseries go until 6.30pm usually! And they don't seem to have a problem with the babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers!

my other bugbear is things for pre-schoolers at weekends. I want DS to have swimming lessons, but all the 3+ lessons at the local pool are during the week. None at weekends! We asked why, they couldn't answer! They have baby/toddler ones though!

Flexible working hours. I'd like companies to treat their employees like professional adults who can manage their time and not like children trying to bunk off school if they request an afternoon off to see a concert. Your employee will make up the hours and will make sure that they don't take the proverbial, please just trust them!

Sorry, rant over blush.

Vanillacandle Wed 01-Dec-10 11:46:21

OK - have skimmed through this thread, and would like to add my two-penn'orth!

1. Stop price increases for holidays/attractions in school holidays. There is no change in the quality of the holiday, so why should we pay more? It may mean an increase in demand, but instead of hiking up the price, what happened to "first come, first served?". For those of us who have DCs in school, and who work in school/education ourselves (both me and DH), we have absolutely no option but to go away in school holiday time. Others take DCs out of school, but our contracts forbid taking holiday in term time, so we're stuffed.

2. Family loos would be great - both my DCs old enough to go on their own now, but I'm still not too happy when DS has to go on his own. The Black Sheep Brewery in Masham, North Yorkshire was fab when my DCs were small. In their restaurant, the loos weren't big enough to get a buggy in if you needed to, but had a changing table opposite a cubicle with a child-height toilet in it so you could keep an eye on toddler while changing baby. Also had straps on changing unit so you could secure baby if toddler needed attention. They also had plastic steps so small people could reach the washbasins, and steps and toddler toilet seats for the adult toilets for if the child's one was occupied. All in all, a big thumbs up!

3. Talking of restaurants, a plea for proper food for children! My DCs hated, and still hate, junk food. I would never let a chicken nugget pass their lips! DS would eat decent sausages and chips, but didn't like BBs, DD wouldn't even eat chips (and still isn't over-keen). I remember when I was little, children had half portions at half prices - why can't we still do that? It saves the restaurant having to buy in all that muck.
Again - a thumbs up to the PostHouse Hotel in York - we stayed there when DD was 21 months old. She had pasta for tea the first night, and the (very friendly) waitress came to clear the plates and said that as a special treat there was ice-cream for pudding. DD burst into tears. Waitress was a bit taken aback, but recovered enough to ask what DD would like instead. "Tawbies" came the reply. So she went to the kitchen, had a word with the chef, and said that he had offered to remove the strawberries from all adult pudding garnishes so that DD could have a bowlful for tea. The next day, he had ordered some specially for her, so she had strawberries every night. Very happy DD = very happy mummy and grandma!

4. Have more cafes open into the evening and on Sundays - we were in Italy last summer, and it was wonderful to see whole families (at least three generations) sitting together having a coffee/milkshake/ice cream etc at 7, 8, or 9 o'clock in the evening. Over here, unless you have gone for a meal in a restaurant, there's only pubs and wine bars - not great for teaching kids about sensible drinking when the example in front of them doesn't bear that out...

5. And last (for now, at least) - please could people stop treating all children as if they were a bloody nuisance? I've had complete strangers come up to me in the street before in holiday time when I'm with my DCs, and say things like "I bet you'll be pleased when they go back to school!". No, actually, I had children because I wanted them, and I enjoy spending time with them. They are (by and large) extremely well-behaved, especially in public, and I really resent people being so rude!

MichaelaS Fri 03-Dec-10 14:43:38

My two suggestions for things that could really help....

1) Allowing maternity leave to be shared between parents. So, if one year is allowed then perhaps the mother could take the first 3 months then the father the next 9 months, or both could take 6 months concurrently. This would reduce workplace discrimitation against women of childbearing age, whilst encouraging the attitude that childcare is not just a job for the mother.

2) For parents of premature babies, it would be great to get "extra" maternity leave i.e. to have paid leave between the birth date and the due date (perhaps fully paid "premature maternity leave" from the birth date to the 37 week gestation date?). My son was born 16 weeks early and spent his first 5 months in hospital. We're very lucky he survived, and I wanted to be able to spend "normal" time with him once he came home. It was upsetting that I only got 7 months at home with him before I had to return to work. Developmentally, premature babies are more like their corrected age (i.e. based on when they should have been born) so I was effectively forced to leave an 8 month old baby in full time care - something I didn't want to do. Some of the other mothers on our unit only got 6 months maternity leave, and one had to return to work before her baby came home - how desparately sad. At such a difficult time, why compound the situation by giving the same maternity leave as a term baby when her situation is drastically different?

Many prem babies have complex ongoing needs such as respiritory problems, feeding issues and mental and/or physical disabilities, so and it's crazy to make the mother of a disabled young baby return to work simply because the year is up. All this does is force you into dependants leave and holiday rather than maternity leave - you won't be at work either way!

There is a huge financial pressure on parents of premmies, and it does not help to be forced into low maternity pay months earlier than you have planned. The number of babies born prematurely is growing, and the survival rates for babies of 24+ weeks gestation is improving, so this is becoming a more important issue!

Good luck Mumsnet on your campaign, sounds great!

mjovertherainbow Tue 11-Jan-11 15:43:52

Message withdrawn

Crumblemum Wed 16-Mar-11 13:30:52

Family Friendly - hmmm think needed a bit more now, more than ever, so to speak.

I just wish the needs of families were seen as a priority when governments (and councils for that matter) are making decisions.

candleshoe Tue 22-Mar-11 14:30:23

Longer maternity leave for Mums of twins/triplets etc. - I really*wasn't able* to go back to work when I was supposed to, and my career has seriously suffered as a result.

Message withdrawn

Zon Wed 25-Jan-12 10:46:55

For me the key thing would be family friendly employers. Offering more flexibility (to mum and dad). E.g. Much more, and much more flexible parental leave days, so you can decide whether mum or dad takes them up in the first year. Allowing you to work 4 days a week, or take them all at once and extend maternity leave. That sort of things. Much more part-time and flexible jobs at senior level too.

WideAwakeMum Thu 23-Feb-12 21:45:50

Working parents need pre-school and wrap-around childcare that is affordable. In the UK our childcare is considerably more expensive than other countries.

Why can't childcare be fully tax deductable? Why oh why did I have to spend MY ENTIRE salary for the last 5 years on pre-school childcare so that I could maintain my career in the longer-term?

Pallen Fri 30-Mar-12 09:41:10

I love France and Italy as they seem to have it right for their children / society. Over here (UK) it seems like kids can't communicate, people ignore each other and everyone seems to be just thinking of themselves. When you look at europe, it's not perfect, but the kids seem to grow up with love rather than the latest gadget, branded gear or endless material things. I would like to see more "chill-out" style cafe's (large sofas, calming background music, the smell of freshly ground coffee etc., which are family friendly not just full of commercially motivated singletons, small and unique eating-houses and some interesting and challenging places where kids / parents are challenged to engage with each other.

linessex Wed 25-Apr-12 22:05:49

hi, i am a bus driver with a daughter aged 8. On a scale i would say 5percent of the workforce are woman, and i can see why. It is very difficult to maintain a healthy balance with family and work. The job steels so much of my time,which leaves me feeling guilty and juggling the childcare is very difficult. I am on a waiting list for part time but this is proving quite difficult, been waiting 18months. Id like to see lots more flexibility. Especially to encourage single mums, which will cut back on unemployment, and improve the economy. And male dominated businesses please take notice of us mums!

linessex Wed 25-Apr-12 22:20:27

hi, i am a bus driver with a daughter aged 8. On a scale i would say 5percent of the workforce are woman, and i can see why. It is very difficult to maintain a healthy balance with family and work. The job steels so much of my time,which leaves me feeling guilty and juggling the childcare is very difficult. I am on a waiting list for part time but this is proving quite difficult, been waiting 18months. Id like to see lots more flexibility. Especially to encourage single mums, which will cut back on unemployment, and improve the economy. And male dominated businesses please take notice of us mums!

linessex Wed 25-Apr-12 23:15:41

hi, i am a bus driver with a daughter aged 8. On a scale i would say 5percent of the workforce are woman, and i can see why. It is very difficult to maintain a healthy balance with family and work. The job steels so much of my time,which leaves me feeling guilty and juggling the childcare is very difficult. I am on a waiting list for part time but this is proving quite difficult, been waiting 18months. Id like to see lots more flexibility. Especially to encourage single mums, which will cut back on unemployment, and improve the economy. And male dominated businesses please take notice of us mums!

milk Tue 01-May-12 17:35:46

More breastfeeding areas instead of having to feed in a disabled toilet.

Roseformeplease Wed 02-May-12 10:46:21

Toilets! Not enough and often nappy changing is in the disabled toilet so you get tutted at by people in wheelchairs / the elderly for changing a nappy in the only available place. Also, nappy changing in rooms without a toilet in them means that you then have to queue again for the toilet queue. Changing facilities in men's toilets for fathers to use.

Children's menus that are not made up of disgusting crap. If we go out to a nice restaurant with the children, they should be able to eat nice food (Indian, Italian etc) without having to either share a portion, eat just starters or eat something with chips. (Chicken aeroplanes - Yuck!) Too few places even offer children vegetables (other than peas -NB baked beans are not a vegetable IMO). Why can't they have a half baguette, pizza, portion of the adult stuff? Also, children's menus widely differ in portion size. What is suitable for a 4 year old is not enough for an 11 year old and yet 11 year olds do not always want to eat like adults. They do, however, on special occasions want 3 course so there should be flexibility built into menus.

Everything in the holidays costs a lot more and we are being spanked by the industry for having children. Why does it cost more to fly in July than it does in June?

Airlines that do not allow parents to board with children or have assigned seating for families. I have been on planes where they force you to fight your way on and often had to, embarrassingly, ask people to move so you can sit with your children.

Self- service restaurants can be impossible to negotiate with children. This is particularly bad in big supermarkets where you often want to eat after shopping. Why can't they, if you are with kids, take your order and bring it to you? It is not possible to manage two children and two trays (one is never enough).

Places to leave buggies, pushchairs THAT ARE SAFE. Sometimes there is no space and often there is somewhere where expensive kit is on fully display.

lumbago Wed 02-May-12 22:52:12

I dontbwant bloody kids everywhere. You go to a restaurant there they freakong are, parents pretending they are "oh so continental " as they pay a fortune for a pizza laced with hydrogenated vegetable fat.

I hiss at the maitre de " not near the kids" and smile beatifically.

chocolatebiscuits Wed 02-May-12 22:57:04

Stop putting stupid radar keys on disabled toilets - there's not exactly a queue of wheelchairs waiting to use them and they are ideal for parents with a buggy.

I would love to see an end to pubs that don't allow children in.

And more affordable housing for families. So many lovely family houses with gardens are full of pensioners whilst families are crammed into tiny flats. Meanwhile the current government cuts benefits for families on all types of incomes whilst leaving pensioners untouched. Very unequal society between generations.

sussextealady Wed 23-May-12 13:02:53

we need to look at how europe deals with child friendly policies, especially Germany and Sweden, excellent for children and parents.

Public transport in uk very difficult when you have young children in buggies. The London tube is horrible with young kids.

baby changing rooms few and far between, and if you find one , stinky and dirty!

breastfeeding rooms, also, difficult, very few places to go , apart from debenhams, mothercare. once was told i could use a staff toilet in tesco, not nice!

atttiude in british culture needs to change and women MP's in government need to lobby and try and improve the staus of parents in our society.

loubielou31 Fri 09-Nov-12 17:11:22

The best nappy changing rooms have a loo cubicle in them too so mums/older potty training siblings can use them without having to fight the pram into another room.

Like many have said restaurants that make me feel welcome with my children are the ones that get my repeat custom.

Family attractions should not rob you twice, once for entry and then again if you want to buy anything within the park.

Decent play parks are always welcome but are in many places really hard to find.

loubielou31 Fri 09-Nov-12 17:13:42

Attitudes towards parents who need to take time off work because their children are ill need to change. Provision of better, cheaper childcare during school holidays is desperately needed.

I'd like to see a move towards larger parking spaces in general. P&T spaces are often full at our supermarket and I don't feel the standard parking space size has kept pace with family sized cars. It would just make going out a bit less stressful.

My employer is very family friendly, they are generous about granting part time requests for both men and women and requests for unpaid leave and they are generally very flexible if children are ill etc. I can also 'buy' up to 2 weeks holiday if I anticipate needing a bit extra. I know a lot of people aren't as lucky.

I would also like to see more parks, playgrounds and safe outdoor spaces. Parts of London are really well equipped but the rest of us are not always so lucky.

I was surprised to get on a bus the other day and then realise it wasn't accessible and there was nowhere for my pushchair. Bit of a stressful time and I think it would be good to either phase out all non-accessible buses or at least make it clear at the bus stop and on timetables if the bus is not going to be an accessible one.

I think it's a shame that the SureStart centres have lost some of their funding too, all the groups I have been to have been really great.

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