In principle, I’m a big advocate of taking young children out to eat. I think it’s really important that Miss O is regularly exposed to the experience whilst she’s little, and love that she gets the opportunity to try different flavours and dishes (I imagine that’s also a big plus for her; the food at Chez Mama is hardly 5 star). In practice though, it’s a bit of a mission.

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Pre- and post-baby dining adventures are VERY different beasts:

  • Those days of simply wandering into that lovely bistro you’ve happened upon are officially dead. We have to pack a bloody suitcase full of changing gear, eating equipment and tantrum-prevention tricks before we can even leave the house; it looks like we’re moving in, not stopping for a quick bite.
  • There is no such thing as an evening meal anymore – you’re heading back out the door with your ketchup-covered toddler long before the pensioners start rocking up for their early-bird specials.
  • Our restaurant selection criteria has changed somewhat:

    Pre-baby:

    “What’s the food/service/ambience like?”

    Post-baby:
    “What percentage of the food is nugget/finger shaped?”
    “Is it child-friendly?” (painfully bright/aggressively colourful/cloaked in despair)
    “Are there children noisier than mine inside?”
    “They DEFINITELY sell wine here, right??”

  • An empty restaurant used to be a bit of a let-down. These days it’s a real happy dance moment – I’m all for having a smaller audience/victim pool when the sh*t inevitably hits the fan…
  • Wooden spoons now indicate two things – your table number, and the number of times your child will repeatedly smack it against the table before you completely lose your cool (“don’t do that sweetie; no…that’s enough now…look at me, don’t hit the…oh for f*ck sake!! It’s like eating with the cast of bloody Stomp!”).
  • There are certain situations you just learn to avoid. Those American diner-esque booths have been a big no-no since Miss O spent an entire meal lounging over the back of one trying to pat the head of the poor sod sitting behind us.
  • Hot food is a ticking time bomb. Toddlers flippin’ love it when you place a tempting plate of food in front of them, then tell them they can’t touch it. Cue frantic blowing, fanning and goujon-dismantling in a bid to stem the waterworks.
  • I used to think those balloons they have near the counter were a lovely touch for families. Now I know that I’m in for an hour of latex b*tch slaps to the face, followed by an earful from Miss O when I finally snap and confiscate the damn thing. Thanks guys, thanks a chuffing bunch.
  • For adults, it’s all about finger food – one hand to eat, the other to prevent your little darling from impaling herself with the cutlery/eating the complimentary crayons / lobbing breadsticks at the couple on the next table.
  • Laminated menus win; they’re much harder to chew. Plastic glasses rule; they’re much harder to smash. Dungarees are essential; they’re much easier to remove when your child’s arse explodes all over the high chair…
  • I end up spending way more time under the table searching for duplo/peas/my dignity, than actually eating at it.
  • There’s none of that romantic feeding each other dessert nonsense – we’re mainly fending off Miss O’s attempts to force regurgitated sweet potato fries into our mouths.
  • When they bring us the bill, we never get offered coffee anymore; it’s almost like they don’t want us to linger??

I think we’ve got a little while to go before she’s mastered the whole dining etiquette thing…

JakiJellz

8 thoughts on “Eating out with toddlers – a whole new dining experience!

  1. Haha! I love these! I definitely choose restaurants a lot differently now than pre-kids! The first thing I look for now with a couple kids who are toilet trained is “how easy is it to get to the bathroom, and can we both fit in?” or with a baby “do they have changing table accomadations?” and I laughed out loud at the having any food resembling chicken nuggets! This is a must have for my picky oldest!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is spot on!! We have a 5yr old and a 18 month old and if it hasn’t got a soft play In it we walk on by!! How the hell do you keep two children entertained whilst keeping them sat at the table for at least two hours is beyond me!! Don’t get me started on how hot the food comes to your table! Surly they know by all the screams/tantrums they hear…Just serve it up 5 mins before the adults and serve them all together? not rocket science!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I remember those days lol. You still get the strops with the older kids too though, apparently even taking them out for dinner is wrong lol.
    #TriumphantTales

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is so true! Especially the part about balloons! We went to F&B the other day and Rory spent the entire time we were there pointing and grunting at the balloons next to the door. #TriumphantTales

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yep. You got it. I spend most of my time looking at the menu hoping there is something Little Man will eat – which is hard because he’s so chuffing fussy!! I’m hoping one day soon these days will be over. I live in hope! Thanks for linking to #TriumphantTales, we’d love to see you back next week 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The bit about the balloon had me snorting in a very unprofessional manner, getting odd looks from my colleagues. Love it 😂 mind you some of these are about the same behaviours from my husband…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. hahaha these are so true!!! we’re yet to get to the balloon and i think i might try to avoid them as i’ve never considered the weapon they become! straws are fun for Ben right now and it keeps him occupied so yay!
    Thanks for joining us at #TriumphantTales

    Liked by 1 person

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