Restaurant dining – at least with young children – will never be the same again.
By Jenny Oberhaus
For six years, it was our Friday ritual: Come home from work. Have a cocktail or glass of wine. Go out to dinner. Enjoy a relaxing meal. For my husband and I, it was our one night to eat out and we relished it.
Enter Brogan (4) and Brynna (2) and, well, Friday night dinners out don’t quite have the same appeal. Now they’re more like an Olympic sport and we are the somewhat-seasoned, almost-always fatigued athletes. The event starts long before we even get to the dining establishment and goes a little something like this:
- Get the kids up from naps early enough so that there won’t be a long wait for seating at the restaurant but not so early that they’re going to be cranky from lack of sleep. A fine line, to be sure.
- Prepare a variety of foods that would rival any doomsday prepper’s stash just in case they turn their noses up at the same item they liked the last time we ordered it. (This happens all too often.) Just one more reason my gigantic mom-purse tends to tip the scales just shy of half a ton.
- Upon being seated, promptly remove from their reach anything sharp, breakable and generally not kid-friendly that may or may not have been in the mouth of the child that previously occupied that table.
- Be ready with their food order so the server can get it started as soon he takes our drink order. (Note: This usually requires looking at the kids menu online before leaving the house. Who’s the doomsday prepper now, aye?)
- Take turns looking at the menu while the other parent keeps an eye on the munchkins to ensure that no kids-menu crayons go rolling off the table thus producing drama akin to losing a cherished keepsake that they had acquired longer than seven minutes ago.
- Place your order then pray the kitchen has its act together so that the food comes quickly. This is one reason we typically only patronize restaurants that offer chips or bread before the meal. Life. Savers.
- Cut their meal into bite-sized cubes then eat your meal while feeding said cubes to one, if not two, other people. (Did I mention I gave up the notion of EVER again eating a hot meal)?
- Ask for the bill when your meal is nearly half eaten (or, if you’re smart, ask for it when your waiter does his post-food delivery “how is everything?” stop at your table) just in case the kids finish early or [insert any number of things that can go wrong in a public place with small children] happens and you need to make a break for it.
Now, doesn’t THAT sound relaxing??? And we have two fairly well-behaved children. Oy vey!
Bottom line? If you’re expecting or even expect you’ll be expecting anytime soon: Go out to eat often. And enjoy your hot meal for me, would ya please?
Got any tips or great stories from dining out with kids? If so, please share.
Jenny Oberhaus is a stay-at-home and work-from-home mom to two gregarious kids that produce great writing material and inspire recipes for her blog, Oberhaus Clan Happenings (& Eatings). Even though she lives in Knoxville, I only know Jenny virtually. I met her in TheMommyhood. She’s obviously our kinda gal – funny. Thanks for sharing this, Jenny O!