Dear Parents: Let’s Talk Chick-Fil-A Playgrounds

Dear Parents: Let’s talk Chick-Fil-A Playgrounds
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To all parents who take full advantage of Chick-Fil-A’s indoor playgrounds: We need to talk.

(FYI: My thoughts can be applied to any indoor play place or playground are; my experience has just been with Chick-Fil-A recently and the fact that it’s a popular destination for young families.)

You see, I’m somewhat of a newbie to play places. I have a 3.5 year old and a 1-year-old, so the 3-year-old is now just big enough to climb the structures (whoo-hoo!) I was happily ready to take advantage of free indoor play areas.

I am also a big fan of Chick-Fil-A and how they’ve really stepped up their service for parents. Their mom valet service lets moms order through the drive-thru, and then an employee has their meal ready and waiting when they come inside. They also have employees providing refills, napkins and sauces directly to tables ― something you rarely see in fast food.

So when we were on two separate road trips last month, I suggested we stop and take advantage. We visited two Chick-Fil-A playgrounds, one in Roanoke, VA, and the other was outside of Golden, Colorado. Both times, the kids were sick of the car and ready to run around after being trapped in a car seat.

Upon going in the first time, I was happy to see that Chick-Fil-A includes a sign that indicates their play place is for children under 54 inches, with a helpful sign for kids to check.

This is perfect, I thought. Theoretically, no bigger kids can hijack this and run over the littles.

Except, unfortunately, this was not the case. Both times that I was in the Chick-Fil-A play places, I saw the following:

  • Kids running over each other to jump on the equipment and screaming their heads off (I know, typical.) But parents of some of the older said kids were nowhere in sight. Or, to be more specific, they were enjoying a cold lemonade in the dining area and paying no attention.
  • Little kids (infant-sized) trying to enjoy the toddler area but fearful of a wrong move and being trampled as other older kids ran around them.

Both times, after being in those play places for five minutes, I was stressed, irritated, and trying to restrain myself from disciplining other people’s kids.

Look, I get it. I know at a certain age, you have faith that your kid will play nice, follow the rules, and be courteous around other kids (most of the time).

However, put them in a room full of screaming children, and chances are, yours will start screaming and running around too. They are kids, that’s just what happens. And I definitely understand that.

So here’s what I’d like to ask of parents with older kids:

  • Please, please, please, watch your kids. The play area is NOT a free babysitter, nor is it going to keep your kids from misbehaving. Check in on them, take turns watching them, or at least take a table next to the play place with one eye (and ear) towards the area. I almost had words with three adults who let their four 10-year-olds run screaming around Chik-Fil-A in Roanoke for over 10 minutes, not checking in on them whatsoever.
  • Talk to your older children about how to treat smaller, younger kids in those situations. What was heartening was seeing some older kids ensure they did NOT trample my 1-year-old, who was trying his hardest to play like the big kids too. However, I did see several older kids push and shove younger kids out of the way on the slide and other places, just to get around them.

Look, I’m like every other parent - I want a break too. Those play areas are so nice to have, especially on road trips and rainy days. I want a chance to check my phone, talk to my husband, and sit down for a second.

However, if I’m constantly worried that my toddlers will get shoved to the ground, it’s not really a restful event. I get that some will argue that I should keep my youngest out of there if that’s the case, and I can understand that.

However, ideally, it’s a place where everyone can play, as long as more parents pay attention and ensure that their kids watch out for others. Here’s to achieving that break for all parents!

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