Fast-food giants are not really my favourite place to go with my little people, but after 26hours in airports and planes, and facing yet another delay in a barely open airport… suddenly hot chips that come with a toy seems like a great option!

If you are not too ashamed to buy one; Happy Meals currently come with a plastic penguin (identifiable to my kids as it’s species after our recent penguin work, rather than the video it was intended to promote – I took that as a win, as I handed out the fries to my kids!). The plastic penguin has an opening mouth and eats a fish. Not the kind of toy I would actively seek to buy but, by gosh did I appreciate it’s arrival at our table!

Two kids who had last walked onto a plane at 3am that morning were happily content in a role-play game of a grand scale. They barely touched their food as their little adventure took place around the table and they made up for all the lost play time they had wasted in various customs cues, baggage lines etc.

The genuine play and delight that my children experienced from this simple toy was greater than I could have imagined and the release we all felt as we bit into our oily food was conclusive for me: Avoiding mega chains is a positive thing to do for our economy, health and a variety of other ethical reasons. But even beyond my parental guilt at conditioning my children to enjoy chain produced food, there is a time and a place to set aside my snobbish tendencies and just sit and eat my chicken burger while my kids delight in the comfort of play with a free toy.

Mc Donald’s welcomed us home to Australia, and that’s OK.

(To read more about how guilt can effect the way we parent read the recent article; P is for Parental Guilt)

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