Another parent told our kids to be quiet on holiday - and I'm not okay with it

Photo: Laura Jackel on holiday at a family-friendly resort
Photo: Laura Jackel on holiday at a family-friendly resort  Photo: Supplied

I have just returned from a long weekend away at a family-friendly resort near Boomerang Beach on the New South Wales Barrington Coast. 

We went with three other families so that our pack of nine kids ranging in age from 12 down to three, had each other to hang out with on the beach, in the pool and on the tennis court.

On Friday night while the adults cooked or chatted over a wine, the kids roamed the resort on their skateboards; enjoying a sense of freedom and fun that they don't usually get in our busy suburb of Newcastle.

Photo: The kids were told to be quiet by another parent staying at the resort
Photo: The kids were told to be quiet by another parent staying at the resort Photo: Supplied

As we finally sat down outside one of our units to enjoy dinner while the kids played nearby, we were interrupted by a man who was staying diagonally across from us. 

"I don't mean to be a killjoy," the young man in a singlet top began, "but can you ask your kids to keep quiet?" 

We all kind of stared at him in a bit of disbelief at first as he carried on by way of explanation.

"It's just we have two little ones trying to sleep and your kids are keeping them awake! Perhaps they could play inside now?"

As none of us are particularly confrontational and our kids were being a bit noisy, we did as he asked. We all leapt up and went to coral the older six kids (the youngest three were in bed by then too) to ask them to come inside. 

It was 8.15pm on a balmy Friday night.

Advertisement

In order to keep them quiet they went from playing outside on their skateboards, to inside one of the bedrooms on their iPad screens. Tucked out the way and nice and quiet as requested.

As we sat back down realising what we had done to be good resort neighbours, we began to feel a bit miffed. 

The constant battle with our kids spending too much time on screens and our worry about digital technology contributes to why we often holiday in groups.

Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied 

We want to encourage our kids to play with their friends imaginatively outdoors, and yet screens were the only option for keeping them collectively quiet and happy.

My issue with his complaint was that it was not midnight at a high-end hotel, this was just after 8pm at a resort that operates much like a caravan park. 

It was also not a rowdy bunch of aggressive drunks or someone operating a leaf blower keeping his kids awake - simply a bunch of bigger kids playing noisily but happily together in a communal area.

Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied 

We have been holidaying at this resort since our two boys were little and to be fair to this man, I have also felt a bit anxious about the noise outside the paper-thin walls of the holiday units. 

In summer the kids roam around in packs until after 10pm, keeping even us adults awake, but this is just part of family resort life isn't it? We travel with white noise machines and block out blinds and find that once we get the kids to sleep, they were usually fine. 

Perhaps this dad had a really bad day and was sleep-deprived, but the fact he was willing to approach a whole table of parents and ask us to quieten our six kids for the sake of his two, was interesting to me.

It got me thinking and asking questions too about 'hierarchy' in parenting. 

There is no doubt that little kids need more protection and are much more physically demanding, so should us parents of older kids defer to parents of babies and toddlers? 

In the case of safety, we always supervise and tell our big kids to watch out for little ones in the pool or when they are playing generally. 

But when it comes to making noise and having fun just being kids outdoors – not hurting or upsetting anyone - the 'rules' are less clear.

Perhaps resorts need clearer instructions about outdoor noise after 8pm? But does that include adult noise too? There were plenty of groups of grown-ups chatting and drinking outside until late each night and ironically, he and his group of friends were one such group on Saturday night!

We were very tempted to go and tell him that he was keeping our kids awake but we thought better of it.

One thing is for sure and that is that soon, this man's sweet little sleepy babes will grow up into 10-year-olds wanting to have fun with their friends on holidays.

I wonder how he might feel about a stranger telling them to be quiet when they are having fun playing outside?

I secretly hope that I'm there to see it.