We have all sat next to the table of children who are turning the restaurant into a Greek wedding and uttered the words, “If my kid acts like that, we just won’t go out.” That’s some pre-baby nonsense. You’ll go out. Even if for no better reason than to avoid defrosting another one of the mysterious post-baby meals delivered to you by the neighbor you barely know and who probably only brought it over so that she could check out the size of the linen closet in your bathroom. Here are a few tips to dining with a carry-on.
Get your training wheels under you while your little one can still be contained and toted. This means pulling back your un-showered hair and putting on a pair of pants that conceal your net underwear. Eating out with a young baby is, and should be, fairly uneventful, as most are content in their carrier and can snooze the whole time, especially if aided by a Carseat Canopy or similar apparatus. Bonus!! Since your little one doesn’t yet have a defined bedtime, then you can actually meet friends out after 6:00 pm, allowing you to believe that your social life will only moderately be affected by your new offspring.
NOTE: Avoid super hip restaurants boasting the latest trendlet of seating you on a staircase to dine, thus providing no space to prop baby and offering no coverage if you need to - GASP - breastfeed in public.
MAY THE PLATE SMASHING BEGIN!
Taking toddlers out to eat is not for the weak. If you respect a nice night out without the distraction of a screaming kid at the next table over, then choose a restaurant that you would never go to for such an escape. I suggest chain restaurants as they have low standards, crappy food, and disreputable clientele likely not to judge. Your foodie community will thank you AND you will still be able to show your face at your favorite “date night” spot. Plan to get there when the doors open for dinner service. The upsides to the early hour: the geriatric diners will find your toddler’s fifth jog around their table endearing, a light crowd equals timely food service and attention, and being early will give you ample time to get back in the car before a pending bedtime meltdown ensues. This is the stage when you will likely lose or sideline those friends who do not have children. Fear not, they’ll come back around when you have a built in D.D. in 16 years.
Supplies for Dining Out:
· An assortment of entertainment: coloring books, small toy cars, etc;
· A sippy cup, because the cup with the straw and lid provides only the illusion of security;
· Toddler utensils;
· Full body bib;
Have a ‘tap out’ understanding with your partner so that you each take a turn occupying the little one. I have a particularly curious and active toddler, so if I am to get a sip of my wine at dinner, I need to be able to pass off duty to someone else. On the upside, it now takes me only 27 seconds to down a glass of Chardonnay.
NOTE: Trick of the trade—after your little one inevitably leaves a mess that would rival the aftermath of a Chris Brown concert, ask the server if you can borrow a broom. If she is even halfway competent, she will refuse and appreciate you for asking, ensuring that you can return to the restaurant and be confident that no one is spitting in your food.
Written by: Alice