Monday, June 7, 2010

Is Your Favorite Restaurant "Dad-Friendly"?

Recently my hubby played Mr. Mom for the day so that I could attend some meetings. After missing some important milestones last year spending time in Iraq, he has made it his mission to be a very hands-on Dad. So he did what every fun dad who can’t cook did; he took them to McDonald’s. Plus, they have an indoor playground. Fun AND food…BONUS! After eating what we all know is not the most nutritious of meals of greasy cheeseburgers and French fries, but the only sustenance my babies live on these days, they were rewarded with time to burn those excessive calories on the jungle gym.

Ah…these precious moments hubby is enjoying watching Jack play with his little sister. Er! Stop! Houston we have a problem! The cheeseburger has kicked in and Jack has a blowout. What to do? Ok. Breath. Don’t panic. What would Mommy do? She’s always so calm and organized and can change both babies at once while simultaneously writing her blog and making a delicious meal. (OK, I embellished a bit). He’s been in battle. He fights crime everyday and puts away bad guys. Certainly changing a baby’s diaper in a restaurant should be a piece of cake, right? He quickly, but calmly corrals both children and takes them to the men’s room to clean up Jack. But this McDonald’s, one of the most “Kid-Friendly” restaurants on planet Earth doesn’t have a changing table in the men’s room. Now what? Hubby is faced with the challenge of putting Jack on a pad on the dirty floor while trying to keep Zoe from splashing in the toilet like she was trying to feed the stingrays at Miami Seaquarium and attempt to clean Jack up so he can high-tail it out of there. Welcome to my world Honey!

At, we have spent 3 years researching what parents across the country look for in a Kid-Friendly restaurant, and of the Top 30 Attributes, a “Changing Table in Men’s and Women’s Restrooms” ranks number 16 and 65% of parents tell us it is Extremely or Very Important , and “Changing Tables are Equipped with Cloths” came in at number 29. And according to research from Koala Kare Products, baby changing stations are equal in importance to childrens’ meals and family-sized restroom. Further, Koala Kare’s research from a national market study indicated that 77% of parents have used baby changing stations and 90% say they use them at least monthly and McDonald’s doesn’t even have one in their men’s room?

An indoor playground runs between $10,000 - $65,000, plus liability insurance, to make a restaurant kid-friendly, and the cost of a baby changing station in a restroom? Under $200! If a restaurant like McDonald’s is willing to invest tens of thousands of dollars in kid-friendliness, why not a couple hundred dollars to make their restaurant “Dad-Friendly”? And here’s another idea for those of us with more than one child. Koala Kare makes Child Protection Seats that allow parents to comfortably secure children while attending to other matters in the restroom for under $100. That sure would have come in handy with baby Zoe!, a division of Kid Friendly Restaurants, seeks out restaurants that are kid-friendly or family friendly. But until this incident, I never put much thought into whether or not they were “Dad-Friendly”. I was talking with one of my restaurant clients recently about the lack of changing tables in the men’s rooms of some of their restaurants and he asked me, “Do you make your husband change diapers”? You bet I do! So the next time you are in your favorite Kid-Friendly restaurant, check around to see if it’s “Dad-Friendly”!

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