The Unwritten Rules of the Fast Food Play Area


There are two types of moms: the mom who monitors her kids in the fast food play area and the mom who throws her kids to the wolves doesn’t. 

Oh, and there are a few moms like me: Somewhere in the middle. 

I’m the mom who scans the walls for the plaque with the neatly printed rules stating the boundaries for kids to play in that space. I make my kids aware of those boundaries. To at least make an effort. 

We wear our socks, we put our shoes neatly in a cubby and we certainly don’t climb up the slide. But there are some rules that aren’t printed on that sign that we need to discuss. The ones some of us moms wish were printed there. They may seem obvious and even basic common sense, but I’m taking this platform to beg for an intervention for all the times I’ve sat there and in my head said, “Where are these kids’ parents?!” 

Unwritten rule #1

You have to actually keep an eye on your children—no matter the age. They make the walls out of glass for your benefit. So you can watch your children, but not have to hear all the excitement from play. Be able to read the room; if your kid looks like they are having a hard time, or giving a hard time—step in. Don’t assume that everything is going great the entire time. Check-in on your kids every once in a while.

Unwritten rule #2 

Keep your kid’s hands to themselves. My kiddos love to make new friends everywhere they go. Its pure and cute, but I know that my son can push boundaries sometimes and it’s one reason why I’m present in the play area. On the flip side, my daughter doesn’t know how to uphold boundaries and will let other kids hug her and sometimes even kiss her. She doesn’t realize the social awkwardness of this—and that’s not necessarily my point here. Rather, I have to intervene sometimes to protect her and teach her how to balance kindness and respecting one’s space/self. If you know your child is overly affectionate, talk with them about boundaries. If your kid tends to be overly rough, be willing to step in and correct them. No one knows your children better than you as the parent. You know what’s too far for your kids.

Unwritten rule #3 

If your child is sick, use the drive-thru. Period. We see you wiping the green colored ooze coming out of your kid’s nose. We hear every deep cough. Look, we’ve all been there. Sick kids keep you from doing everything, including getting a break from them. Desperate times call for desperate measures; that’s what McDonald’s is for. I’m kidding—just trying to bring humor to this subject. No one wants to be the parent with sick kids in public, and I’ve been guilty of breaking this rule, but we all have to draw the line somewhere. 

Unwritten rule #4 

When your kid is too old, they are too old. Older kids become bored with a regular slide and play area. They have to create the fun. This typically means climbing up the slide, climbing on top of the slide, blocking the slide, and the list goes on. I get it, there are only so many times you can follow the rules before the luster of a plain ol’ slide wears off. But let’s be honest here. I don’t want big Tommy teaching my little Susie about how to up the ante on fun in the play area. My kids are still at the age where a regular slide is beyond exciting and fun. Call me protective, but my kids look up to older kids and see their every move and then want to repeat it.

It is our responsibility as parents to make the play area a safe, fun place for all kids. My message is plain and simple: Please teach your kids to treat others as they would want to be treated.  

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Katie is a Colorado Native, only knowing CO as home. She loves to travel though, but seeing the "Welcome to Colorful Colorado" sign will always be her favorite thing to come home too. She met her CO Native husband when she was 14, & they have been together since she was 15. They are best friends, tackling parenting their kids together. Norah (4), Jonah (3), Micah (1), & Maggie (coming in January) grow and stretch her everyday--literally. Katie is passionate for interior design, photography, and anything pretty. There's always music playing in her home, or a good podcast. She's a sucker for a good classic movie, and knows every part of "Sound of Music" by heart. This is her first year winging homeschooling her daughter, mainly to avoid learning how make cutesy lunches & continue serving those Dino nuggets daily. Solid in her faith, she gives all the glory to God for any grace, kindness, or love in her life. Writing for the Colorado Springs Moms Blog has blessed her more ways than she can count, and is proud to be apart of this tribe of mamas creating community in her hometown!


  1. Well thought out and written. These unwritten rules should be obvious but there are always those who are oblivious or just don’t care! especially regarding sick kids!

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