Aaaaah, dinner out. Fancy clothes, fine wine, the most delectable morsels one could possibly imagine. The music swells, you look into each other’s eyes, until…
“Muuuuuuuuuum! He hit me!”.
Welcome to eating out with small kids. Please step this way, your reserved table in the pits of hell is ready for you.
How how how?! Why why why?!
Eating out with small kids is a battlefield. And not a lovely one, thanks Pat Benatar. It’s an actual battlefield. Grenade launchers of mashed potatoes being flung around in public. The high-pitched drone-like whining of the highchair-ed toddler who is taking umbrage with their imprisonment. The casualties (being you and the other diners) being laid to waste by tiny tyrants intent on torture.
If your last public meal with the kids resulted in at least someone (you) crying that you never wanted to do it again, here are a couple of handy hints that might help.
Please note the use of the word ‘might’. Kids are lovely but, let’s face it, sometimes they’re assholes. Best of luck.
Eating Out With Small Kids: This Is Not The Place Or The Time
Venue and time choice are EVERYTHING when it comes to eating out with small kids. Although your inner twenty-year-old may cringe at the idea of a 5.30pm dinner in a place with an attached playground, you must accept that this is your life now. For this moment in time, you are a massive dork who eats dinner when the sun is out inside a plastic wonderland.
There’ll be baby change, high chairs, kids menus and no one there will bat an eyelid when your children start chanting or summoning Satan. Accept it. Own the playground. Wear your paper crown with pride.
Do Unto Others As They Would Foodcourt Onto You
Repeat the following: “I Will Not Be A Dick To The Staff Members”
Your child is your responsibility. Are they running amongst the tables? Stop it. Are they dropping shit everywhere and you’re kicking in underneath things instead of picking it up? Cut that out. Are you speaking rudely to the awkward teenager who is absolutely terrified of your mum wrath? You are nasty.
Your children may be the sweetest things on earth to you but they’re probably not to everyone else. The wait staff are not getting paid very much and they most likely have been yelled at least once in this shift. Be nice to them. Talk to them, pick up your crap, tidy up a little. Next time you come in there’ll probably be an extra dollop of icecream in your milkshake. Be a nice human.
The Great Escape
Sometimes things just do not go to plan. You may well need to Steve McQueen your way out of there. If so, try to go easy on yourself. Your children are being children. It’s not in their DNA to sit still and be quiet. They’re explorers, artists, challengers and conquerers.
If you’ve had enough conquering for one evening, make like a tree and pack your food up and get out of the building. Lug your takeaways to a park, eat on the ground and then let your children swing from the trees like the cheeky monkeys they are. It’s not giving up – it’s graciously admitting defeat and altering plans.
Eating Out With Small Children? Good Luck!
This stage doesn’t last forever. You’re in the thick of it now but soon you’ll be out the other side, watching other parents argue with tiny versions of themselves just like you used to. Bon Appetit!
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