Monday, 28 July 2014

Dinner with a Gremlin

Picture the scene.  You are eating at a nice restaurant with your partner and little one. Conversation flows easily, your little one giggles at Daddy making funny faces.  You each have a glass of wine as your little one sips on his or her water.  The waiter comments on what a delightful child you have and what wonderful parents you must be.  You enjoy the rest of your meal for the next hour, leisurely eating, chatting and relaxing. 

This happened to me last month.  Oh no.  Wait.  This didn't happen to me last month at all.  I dreamt it.  This is what actually happened.  A scene from Gremlins erupted at the restaurant. And no, Baba was not cute Gizmo.  Baba was the result of  when water had been spilt onto Gizmo.  No matter what I did, what I tried, nothing would get her to calm down and eat her food.  She could not be contained and screamed like I was murdering her when I tried to sit her in the high chair.   We left shortly after.  And I was left feeling like the worst mum in the world for not even being able to take my daughter for a meal out.  

Fast forward to yesterday and the three of us had a lovely lunch out.  Ok, the waiter didn't tell me how fabulous we were doing, but it was so nice.  There was no tantrums, no screaming and not a Gremlin in sight.  And this is the thing, eating out with a toddler is kinda like Russian Roulette.  You might have a wonderful time, you might wish you had stayed in bed that day and never left the house. Sometimes, toddlers don't want to sit down and be still, not even if there is ice-cream on offer.  But, I think you can help stack the odds in your favor and here's my top seven tips on eating out with your little one. 
Disclaimer: this list does not guarantee protection from Gremlins. 

1) Get a bag of tricks
This is the most important thing.  Never ever ever go for food without having something to occupy your little one.  They need stuff and plenty of it.  I tend to take crayons, colouring in sheets and stickers.  The trick is to include items that your little one doesn't play with all the time, so the objects are new and exciting.  In code red situations, the iphone makes an appearance and I feel like a bad mum as Baba scrolls happily through a million photographs of herself.  

2) Take some snacks.  You may be patient enough to wait whilst you are seated, the waiter brings your drinks, you order your food, the chef returns from his lunch break to prepare your food, but your little one is not. I take bread-sticks, fruit, little boxes of raisins...anything to keep the hunger Gremlin at bay. 

3) A Place-mat.  I found these in the clearance section of my local Boots and they are amazing!!! You stick them to the table and then you have a nice clean surface for your little one to eat off.  My daughter sees plates as completely unnecessary when she has the expanse of a whole table before her.  At least this way her mess and food look kind of contained.  

4) The bib over-all.  
My daughter is two and still manages to cover her entire being in whatever she is eating. These bibs are amazing, and when you leave the table your little one still looks (relatively) clean.  They actually have quite a good selection of these in £1 shops.  (As modelled by Baba). 

5) Hand and face wipes.  You didn't need me to tell you this did you? But since I have potty trained Baba, I keep forgetting to take wipes with me.  I picked some hand and face wipes up in Wilkinsons and the packet is a bit smaller than a pack of baby wipes, but just as effective. 

6) Don't worry. Everyone has bad days.  So you little one has lobbed their pasta at the posh couple next to you.  That's ok.  Take a deep breath, ask the waiter to liquidise your food so you can drink it and then leave.  Tomorrow is another day and you never have to return to that restaurant again! 

7) Never, ever put water on their backs.  Just in case. 

Thank you so much for reading.  Have you got any funny stories of eating out with your little ones? Or have you got any tips I have not mentioned? Please leave your comments below!

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  1. Yup, a total game of Russian roulette, I agree! I like the place mats, such a good idea. I used to have a pack of Milton sterilising wipes in my bag at all times. I would wipe down the table and anything else my toddler may throw her food on or try and lick!
    Lovely tips.
    stopping by from #brilliantblogposts

    1. Yes I love the Milton baby wipes too!
      Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting.

  2. I remember having to take a bag full of distractions everywhere, it does get better, my 5 year old is now happy to sit and unnerve strangers by staring at them(!!) or read the menu and the nearly 3 year old just likes to play with straws or drive a toy train around the table.

    1. So glad to hear my days of being Paul Daniels and pulling various items from a bottomless bag are numbered!!! Thank you so much for stopping by! x

  3. Haha! Fantastic post :-) LOL as soon as your second paragraph began!
    The ingredients for your pre-packed bag are perfect... ANYTHING to avoid the kind of stress these situations can lead to... And then it's not even fun to go out!!

    Regarding scrolling through photos on the iPhone... Nothing to feel bad about!! I'd be sat next to you with kids with earphones watching movies while they wait!! My emergency solution... No earphones... Quiet movies - two playing simultaneously leaving everyone close to us in confusion as to whether the restaurant hasn't quite selected their radio station properly!

    Thanks for linking to #brilliantblogposts