Do you leave your child alone when you go to the restroom? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 97 Old 01-21-2009, 01:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The thread about letting kids go to the restroom got me wondering about this: Let's say you're the only adult with your child in a restaurant, and you need to go to the restroom. Do you leave your child sitting alone at the table?

My son just turned 4, and I've done this 3 times in the past few months, with no negative consequences. Once we were at a familiar local diner where he and the waitress are pals. Once we were in a crowded Panera in a suburb we rarely visit, seated at least 50 feet from the restroom with several barriers between. Once we were in a very homey family restaurant, in a totally unfamiliar place on a road trip, at the table right outside the restroom.

The odd thing is, my son normally hates to be alone and therefore wants to go everywhere with me. But it seems that when he's settled in a restaurant, either eating or drawing while he waits for the food, because there are other people within sight he doesn't feel he's being left alone.

I certainly would rather have privacy in the restroom than cram him into a stall with me. In a place like Panera where you choose your own table, I like having someone "guard" the table while I'm gone rather than leave a bunch of our stuff unattended to "mark our territory".

If you don't do this, why not?

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#2 of 97 Old 01-21-2009, 01:45 PM
 
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In the diner/waitress-pal scenario I would do it, but otherwise, I wouldn't. I wouldn't want to leave my 4yo unattended and vulnerable. I just bring everyone and all belongings with me into the bathroom (but not necessarily into the stall) either before or after sitting down.
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#3 of 97 Old 01-21-2009, 02:22 PM
 
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Nope. It's sometimes safe for my six-year-old to take her five-year-old sister into the bathroom, because it's a small, enclosed space which is easily monitored from the outside. The same cannot be said of a public place like a restaurant, especially a crowded one. With me in the bathroom, in a stall, I cannot possibly keep an eye on my child out in the open dining room.

I'm not even really talking fear of kidnapping here, though certainly many children who in the past were kidnapped from a crowded public place were enticed away and stolen when the child's parents were distracted "just for a minute" (let alone in a completely different room from their child). There's plenty of painful/distressing/possibly dangerous things that could happen to my kid just sitting there. Panera serves hot soup and hot coffee. Restaurants with sit down service tend to mean servers carrying trays of food, none of which I want to risk being dropped on my child with me unawares. That's not even touching things like my kid spilling her drink on herself or possibly choking on her food.

I don't particularly like to make restroom trips when it's just me & the kids, and in fact if I'm the only one who has to go I'll wait until we're all done eating & ready to leave. But I've left my food and some of my things on the table and come back to find it all there. My coat is an acceptable risk.

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#4 of 97 Old 01-21-2009, 02:23 PM
 
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I've never thought about doing that . . . I think I'm part camel. We hardly spend any time at home, but I rarely use the restroom when we're out.

I think my six year old would be fine -- I let her go into the bathroom alone, so why not let her stay at a table alone -- but my 3 year old would probably get himself in trouble.

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#5 of 97 Old 01-21-2009, 02:27 PM
 
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I always take my 4 yo DD with me. She would not like to be in a restaurant alone and I don't feel safe leaving her alone. I actually even take her into the stall with me. She is very shy and doesn't really like it if people she doesn't know talk to her. Women in restrooms are often very friendly and want to chat with her. Unfortunately that kind of overwhelms her.

If 12 yo DD is with us I'll leave the two of them together at the table.
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#6 of 97 Old 01-21-2009, 02:33 PM
 
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No. I personally dont feel comfortable leaving my children unattended for a variety of reasons but they are also young, teenagers later on yep! I just take them in to the bathroom with me often in the same stall depending on the surroundings and people there. I have often waited until our food arrives and then say to the waitress (if its a diner type) "where are your restrooms" even if I know where they are at. I've never had a problem with our food being cleared by mistake.
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#7 of 97 Old 01-21-2009, 02:37 PM
 
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The thread about letting kids go to the restroom got me wondering about this: Let's say you're the only adult with your child in a restaurant, and you need to go to the restroom. Do you leave your child sitting alone at the table?
---------------------
My DD is 6. I don't leave her alone in any public place or let her go to the bathroom by herself. She would be fine with it, but I'm not.

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#8 of 97 Old 01-21-2009, 02:38 PM
 
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My God....I would NEVER leave my four year old unattended in a restaurant, never. I'd rather pee myself.

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#9 of 97 Old 01-21-2009, 02:47 PM
 
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You know, I don't think I ever went to a restaurant alone with a 4yo! Money has always been tight, and going to a restaurant is generally a social thing that I'd do with another adult friend or relative. So we'd take turns going to the restroom, and generally I'll ask if anybody else needs to go when I do. Generally, my daughters needed to use the restroom as often as I did, so if we were all out (say, shopping) we'd simply go to the public restroom together. By the time DS was past toddlerhood, my daughters were old enough to watch him while I went to the restroom alone.

Given the above scenarios, I think I'd be comfortable in the family restaurant where I knew the waitress, but not the other two. I'd basically consider the waitress to be "babysitting" for those few minutes. I'd never leave a 4yo unsupervised, period. Things get a bit iffier with older kids. By age 9, I'd have no qualms about leaving the child alone at the table. At age 7 or 8, I'm really not sure.

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#10 of 97 Old 01-21-2009, 02:47 PM
 
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My daughter is 7 and I still will not leave her unattended in a public place. My kids come with me to the bathroom (and I often will do a potty-trip before we even sit down at a restaurant).

Scary to think that I used to go to the convenience store unattended at that age to buy candy. In a not-so-great neighborhood.
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#11 of 97 Old 01-21-2009, 02:51 PM
 
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No, I most definitely wouldn't. Not even in a family restaurant where I knew the waitress. She's busy with her job and I wouldn't have her being responsible for my child.
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#12 of 97 Old 01-21-2009, 03:05 PM
 
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No I would not leave dd unattended at a table in a restaurant.

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#13 of 97 Old 01-21-2009, 03:19 PM
 
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No, never.
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#14 of 97 Old 01-21-2009, 03:30 PM
 
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I wouldn't leave my just turned 4 year old alone in a restaurant.

I've left my 4.5 yr old with his 9 year old brother alone at a Bertucci's where our seats were just outside the bathroom door and the food had just arrived. But never alone.
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#15 of 97 Old 01-21-2009, 03:31 PM
 
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I wouldn't leave a 4 year old alone. I now give my 8 and 6 year old the option of staying together without me, but that's recent and they haven't taken me up on it.
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#16 of 97 Old 01-21-2009, 03:36 PM
 
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My oldest is 8 and I'm not sure I would feel comfortable doing this with her (since I only have girls, though, it isn't really an issue when I take them out). I let her play outside alone, visit the neighbor kids, etc., but that's in a familiar place surrounded by familiar people; I'd let my 6yo go to a public bathroom, but that's a closed space, with one exit. In either case, my child knows where to find me - I think that's the main issue. Left alone in the restaurant, if she needed to run from something/one, she wouldn't know exactly where to find me, and I'm not comfortable with that. It's more like leaving a child alone in the car, something I also wouldn't do with my 8yo.
If I bring them into a publc restroom, though, I certainly don't cram them in the stall with me. I have even my 4yo stand outside the stall (I can see her feet). 3 or so and younger I'd bring into the stall. How I would cram four kids in there, I don't know!
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#17 of 97 Old 01-21-2009, 03:36 PM
 
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I would be way more likely to let my kids go into the restroom by themselves than to leave them in a public place while I went. I'm much less concerned about kidnapping than I am by a child wandering away.
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#18 of 97 Old 01-21-2009, 03:37 PM
 
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My 6 year old ds comes with me into the bathroom no matter where we are, unless there is somebody to watch him.
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#19 of 97 Old 01-21-2009, 03:38 PM
 
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No, I don't. I wouldn't feel comfortable doing that.

Mom of a 7 yr old, 4 yr old, and 1 yr old. Wow. How did that happen?
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#20 of 97 Old 01-21-2009, 03:38 PM
 
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There are restaurants where I would consider leaving my 3.5 yo at the table, but most places I wouldn't. People's comfort level really varies. I had someone comment that I should have dd in the stall with me when she was just outside the bathroom door talking loudly with her friend and I could hear everything.
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#21 of 97 Old 01-21-2009, 03:40 PM
 
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Originally Posted by OakBerry View Post
My 6 year old ds comes with me into the bathroom no matter where we are, unless there is somebody to watch him.
Yeah that. No way would I leave my 6 year old at a table in a restaurant by himself.
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#22 of 97 Old 01-21-2009, 03:53 PM
 
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I would't leave my kids alone in a restarunt yet (almost 5yo twins, 3.5yo dd, obviously not the baby). I can't imagine being comfortable with it. I only just this week left them in the restroom with me (not in the stall) while I went *very* quckly. Before that, everyone came in. We went out a few times this week though since my parents were in town, so I had the girls go first and then wait outside my stall together while I went quckly.

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#23 of 97 Old 01-21-2009, 04:12 PM
 
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No, never.
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#24 of 97 Old 01-21-2009, 04:17 PM
 
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Nope, not yet.

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#25 of 97 Old 01-21-2009, 04:18 PM
 
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No, I don't think I would. I go before we sit down, or I just don't go. I left nearly-5 yo DD at a table at the ski resort restaurant while I got in line to order, but I could see her and talk to her the whole time, and with the layout, she couldn't leave nor be taken out without walking by me. I also don't make her come in the stall. I think I've even left DS asleep in the stroller, brakes on, outside the stall when the bathroom isn't crowded. If I can hear if someone's talking to them and see their legs and the wheels of the stroller, I figure it's okay. That's my comfort level though.

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#26 of 97 Old 01-21-2009, 04:39 PM
 
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Originally Posted by EnviroBecca View Post
The thread about letting kids go to the restroom got me wondering about this: Let's say you're the only adult with your child in a restaurant, and you need to go to the restroom. Do you leave your child sitting alone at the table?

My son just turned 4, and I've done this 3 times in the past few months, with no negative consequences. Once we were at a familiar local diner where he and the waitress are pals. Once we were in a crowded Panera in a suburb we rarely visit, seated at least 50 feet from the restroom with several barriers between. Once we were in a very homey family restaurant, in a totally unfamiliar place on a road trip, at the table right outside the restroom.

The odd thing is, my son normally hates to be alone and therefore wants to go everywhere with me. But it seems that when he's settled in a restaurant, either eating or drawing while he waits for the food, because there are other people within sight he doesn't feel he's being left alone.

I certainly would rather have privacy in the restroom than cram him into a stall with me. In a place like Panera where you choose your own table, I like having someone "guard" the table while I'm gone rather than leave a bunch of our stuff unattended to "mark our territory".

If you don't do this, why not?
And you honestly think that is okay? Wow.

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#27 of 97 Old 01-21-2009, 05:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Most of you are not answering my question WHY NOT? What is it that you think would happen to a child left by himself for 3 minutes in a room with other restaurant patrons and staff?

Concerns about hot food and choking make sense to me. I don't think of them as really likely problems, given my son's coordination and sensibleness plus the likelihood that someone would help him, but these are possibilities that I did worry about while I was in the bathroom. I don't see them as any more likely in a restaurant than at home, though, and at home I'll sometimes go to another room or even another floor while he's eating.

We eat in restaurants embarrassingly often, and he knows how to behave, so I'm not concerned that he'll cause a ruckus in just a few minutes.

He's not the wandering kind. Each time, I told him to stay at the table, but I also pointed out exactly how to get to the restroom in case of emergency.

I did think the situation at Panera was highly questionable. That time I tried to get him to come with me, we argued until I was about to wet my pants, and I gave up because he was making sense ("I am not spilling. I will be careful. If anybody asks, I'll tell them you are coming right back.") and I wasn't ("But you can't sit at a table and eat bread ALL ALONE!"). My main concern was not that he would come to any harm, but that somebody would freak out at me.

One reason I started this thread was to assess the likelihood of somebody freaking out at me. Looks like it's high.

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#28 of 97 Old 01-21-2009, 05:35 PM
 
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At 4, probably only in the situation where we were comfortable and peolple knew us. Mostly because at 4 no one (well, most no ones) is going to complain about opposite sex child in restroom. HOwever, my DS is now 9. NOt only is he incredibly uncomfortable in the ladies room, but others are uncomfortable as well. So at this point yes, he would stay at the table in a restaurant, and outside of the ladies room anywhere else. I think we started that routine at about 6 or so. I am frequently out with DS and DD and without DH, so this has become routine. I can't say that I like it, but it seems to be part of the deal of having a boy child. I am confident that he would know how to react should someone approach him, and I am also aware that the probability for something like that actually happening well nigh zero.
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#29 of 97 Old 01-21-2009, 06:22 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EnviroBecca View Post
Most of you are not answering my question WHY NOT? What is it that you think would happen to a child left by himself for 3 minutes in a room with other restaurant patrons and staff?.
Aside from the obvious choking and spilling dangers, which may not even be an issue depending on the situation, I am mostly concerned about other customers harassing my daughter. We have some of the agressively nosy type of stranger around here, who would loudly start interrogating dd, and possibly telling her that I'm a bad mother for leaving her alone, and maybe (remote possibility) even try to drag her to management to report that she's been left alone. Or, she could encounter the type of person who likes to try to feed other people's kids completely innapropriate foods. There are just a lot of possible scenarios that would be uncomfortable for dd.

If I can either see or hear what's going on, or if I'm in a quiet restaurant where I'm familiar and comfortable with the staff, I would consider leaving dd alone for a moment.
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#30 of 97 Old 01-21-2009, 06:43 PM
 
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No, I wouldn't, even if we knew all the waitstaff. I don't think I'd feel comfortable with that for at least a few more years. But I'm usually out with both kids at the same time. It's a pain getting DD and the baby up to go to the bathroom, so I make a point of stopping by on my way in the place. That way, we don't have our meal interrupted by any of us needing to go.

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