#whatwouldyoudo? Eating out with toddlers – friend or foe?

In the ‘before days’ Mr TM and I used to love eating out. It was like our favourites thing, chuck in a bottle of Sauvignon and we were winning. It wasn’t all Michelin  stars and double Rossette dinners but it did often involve  actual sitting and eating a plateful of something I couldn’t make at home, at least not as well anyways. Nowadays eating out is boarding on a chore and always involves baked bloody beans, pasta and a fidgety toddler who just wants out of the damned high chair.

We are currently taking a month out in the Canaries, which inevitably involves lots of eating out and it has really hit home just how hard work it seems to have become. So much so Mr TM and myself stroll along the beachfront and the minute the little angel has fallen asleep in her pram we hot foot it over to the nearest restaurant pitch up in the sun and tuck into our lunch usually accompanied by a nice beverage of some (usually alcoholic) description.  We pray she will stay asleep long enough to finish our food. And maybe even a second drink.

On those occasions she is not asleep at meal times, which is of course the majority of the time, we find ourselves battling through the following situations:

The I don’t want anything to eat and I definitely won’t sit still meal time.

You usually know when you’re in for this one because from the minute your bum imagetouches the seat, it’s back up again.   Little miss Z will not sit in that bloody high chair for love nor money. No amount of chip bribery, will coax her back within 2 foot of the table. She wants to be off exploring the new surroundings and not strapped to a sodding chair. The other day for example we went for a Chinese and in the entrance there was a fountain with lots of big bloody fish, so all baby 1 wanted to do was look at these fish and when she was finally fed up with the fish she wanted to climb up and down the steps at the entrance and greet everyone as they came in. Mr TM and I spent the best part of the meal supervising said fish watching and the meet and great whilst the other maned the table, baby 2 and shovelled some food down.

The I only like chips meal time…and maybe ice cream 

We order Z a £5 baby meal of something she will always eat at home, probably pasta, out it comes, she starts to tuck in but someone else on the table has ordered chips! That’s it the pasta is now cast aside as dog food and she will only eat chips. We hear ‘ow ow ow’ and saw points furiously at the chips until she gets some. This is a real gripe of mine as I really hate her having chips for dinner, slightly hypocritical if we’re sat there with chips on our plates but I can’t help it, do as I say and all that.

The I’m going to redecorate the restaurant meal time

On the occasions baby 1 does sit and eat aforementioned pasta, which is usually in a image
tomato sauce Miss Independant will only feed herself, with her hands. Her face, the high chair, the floor will doubtlessly have a new colour scheme by time she’s done and I spend my time furiously wet wiping after her leaving everything a slight tinge of orange.

The I want a bottle meal time.  

Ok so this one isn’t about baby 1 but the generally more eating out friendly baby 2. He (for the time being anyway) is quite happy to sit in his pram, sleep or sit quietly on our lap as we eat, unless our timing has gone to pot. It’s not unheard of that my plate will be put in front of me and little master T  starts screaming for his bottle. I then spend the next few minutes warming it up followed by Mr TM cutting my food up like a child and proceed to eat one handed as I feed the baby.

So I’m aware I make it sound like I have a toddler that rules the roost and not the other way around, which isn’t always completely untrue, but at home there are some rules. We sit to the table and eat our dinner together or if the babies eat first she will always sit to the table (or her baby sized table and chairs) to eat. But the dilemma I have when we’re out eating is that I am so aware that there are others dining that I am conscious not to ruin their dinner as well, further I try to keep baby 1 from going into full on meltdown mode and keep the peace as best I can – I’m sure the staff could without my bundle of joy deterring new patrons from frequenting their place of business. So what do you do? Do you pander and walk around the restaurant to keep her quiet, indulge in chip bribery, let her kick off in the restaurant or, God forbid, eat at home?

Do you ever struggle when eating out with the little ones? How do you get round it? Do you avoid eating out or are do you little darlings sit happily and eat with you? I’d love to know. 

If you have a #whatwouldyoudo dilemma you would like to share or  feature as a guest post I’d love to hear from you. Place feel free to drop me a line at tammymumuk@yahoo.co.uk

 

See we can all eat together…

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23 thoughts on “#whatwouldyoudo? Eating out with toddlers – friend or foe?

  1. ah, I feel your pain! Even though my two are now aged 5 and 3, mealtimes can still be a struggle. I’ve learned to go with the flow a bit more now. I think in the first few years I set my expectations a bit high, like being able to eat a meal, have a conversation and not have the room redecorated with food! Now I just let them get on with it. If we’re out (not often mind!) I always take a colouring book or toy to distract them! Hope you enjoy your month away 🙂 #bigpinklink

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    1. Oh god don’t tell me that at 5 and 3 it’s still hard work… I always go armed with distractions too but mine are so young it’s 50/50 as to whether they’ll work. Thanks for your comment x

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  2. It can be hard. I always used to take some finger food like carrot sticks etc to give them incase they didn’t want what was on offer at the restauarant. But like you we would try and time it with naps and spend our meal wolfing the food down and whispering-haha. It does get easier 🙂 #thebigpinklink

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  3. Oh I am soooo jealous of your month in the Canaries! Sounds amazing! Re eating out, my 2 are now 5 and 3 now, and we can finally have a meal out together with the minimum of fuss. And if it starts to go the way of the baby days, there is the magic of the cbeebies app, that seems to work a treat on both of them. So I think it’s just time I’m afraid!! Thanks for linking up to #bigpinklink

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  4. We go out to eat for some reason we don’t have this problem. The minute we walk in we are interacting with them and figuring out food. We have always taken them out to eat from the time they were little babies on. They like the menus, food, and the people.

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  5. We don’t go out all that much as a family but my partner and I go out when we can when my daughter is away. When we do go all together it tends to be a horrible place with bad food and a play area to keep her entertained for a bit. She never, ever eats meals when we go out so I’d much rather she has a fun time. #bigpinklink

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  6. I have similar issues. Being out in a new environment with a toddler. He never wants to sit down and instead wants to run around exploring. It’s just the phase they’re in. I often end up getting quite worked up chasing him round and stopping him from disturbing others and getting into things he shouldn’t (like electrical sockets).
    Other mums will totally feel your pain. Non parents… Well, stuff them, they have no idea what it’s like!

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    1. Oh it’s horrendous at times isn’t it. Simple Inge like eating your dinner are out the window with these little explorers. Thank you so much for your comment, nice to know I’m not alone! Xx

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  7. I feel your pain! Eating out is such a feat now, I always keep an iPhone stand in my changing bag so A can watch youtube but even that won’t make him sit still lately. Thanks for linking up to #MarvMondays! Kaye xo

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  8. When the boys were younger we use to avoid eating out as much as possible, but when it was required I had no issue with chip bribes and their toys on the table it it kept them still.
    Thanks for sharing with us, Tracey xx #abitofeverything

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  9. I can so relate to this as I had trouble with Monkey when he was younger and I don’t just want to give him a tablet as he will never learn and it kills conversation although i know parents that do and have a lot more relaxed meal times that we do!! However I use to carry around a couple of busy bags when he was a similar age which may have some colouring, sticking, pegs, lacing that sort of thing and they use to hold his interest for a little while and we could still talk and interact! However it didnt always work mind you. Thanks for joining us at #BloggerCubUK hope to see you again this week x

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    1. Stickers is such a good idea! I carry all sorts around with me that just didn’t seem to cut it. But when we get back I am going to raid hobbycraft and put mu own activity pack together! Thanks for the tip. Xx

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  10. This is all sounds very familiar and we only have a 7 month old, so have a long way to go yet. We’ve just started weaning and trying to get little one onto 3 meals a day, so I am just starting to encounter all the battles with having a child with you in a restaurant. At the weekend it took forever to get a bowl of hot water to heat her lunch up in, by that time she was getting more and more irritating, and then didn’t want her lunch. I’m also getting used to being covered in food and water. This has been eye opening to read, thanks for posting. Claire x

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    1. God I hope u haven’t scared you too much. We too have a weaning baby so I can feel your pain with that one. You never know you might be one of the lucky ones whose babies sit and eat with you… It seems like everyone else’s baby in the restaurant is doing that lol x

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  11. We took the Tubblet out when she was little to family friendly places fairly early in the evening and hoped for the best. She wasn’t going to learn how to behave in public if we didn’t teach her and the only way to do that was to … um …! We had some challenging evenings but we got there in the end! Good luck

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