A Dinner Date with a Toddler and a Preschooler

What a lovely Fall Saturday we had. We raked leaves into garbage bags shaped like jack-o-lanterns, we carved our own jack-o-lantern, we made a fall craft and we walked downtown to see the scarecrows. Back in the day, a pizza dinner out would have topped the day off perfectly. And oh how I hoped it might tonight. Nothing went wrong per se, but eating out with children can be just so exhausting. Even though I have two kids, I think I am an amateur when it comes to dining out with kids. I seem to never remember to bring something for them to do while we wait for our food. Sometimes I forget to order food for the kids. I’ve actually been out to eat twice in the past 8 days and both times someone had to remind me to put in an order for the little ones. What is my problem? I am so used to my older child not eating anything that I forget that the younger one eats like a horse. For instance, tonight the 21 month old ate two slices of pizza and the 4 year old ate one bite of pizza – no lie. But she didn’t complain of being hungry before bed and she doesn’t usually wake up hungry.

Back to dining out with kids – to me it’s almost not worth it. I don’t feel anymore relaxed when I get home and I hardly get to enjoy my meal. The little one spent most of the meal standing up in her high chair, even though my dad did an excellent job of amusing her. The big one kept sliding off the booth seat and going under the table or laying down on the booth bench with either her feet on the wall or in my lap. She stood on the seat and looked out the front window, she jumped on the seat excitedly. I’m not really one to worry much about what others think in situations like this. Or at least, I don’t think that’s why I get so anxious. I think my worry is that I am raising a child that would act like that. I want to think I am doing a better job than that and that I have control of my children in public. I guess the bar I’ve set for myself is pretty darn high. I just really really really want to be raising nice, calm, respectable children who are in control of themselves. It’s not that I am upset about what other diners think about me as a mom and about my kids and more about beating myself up. If I can’t get them to sit up at the dinner table and stop making high pitched noises, how can I raise them to be kind hearted human beings?

So dinner was not so bad. I got to eat my delicious salad. Two waitresses commented that my kids did just fine. I guess my face showed that I was a little worked up? But I was so amped up that when I got home I let something small be my boiling point and I lost my cool big time. I used to really love eating out, but sometimes I think it’s just not worth it and maybe we should wait until the kids are older. Maybe it feels worse because my husband wasn’t there? Maybe I have no control of them when I am outnumbered? Maybe the kids sense my anxiety about this and feed off of it. If we took them out to eat more would they get better at it? Would it go more smoothly if I just brought a stupid coloring book?! Wow, typing this all out makes me feel really really silly for stressing about this.

6 thoughts on “A Dinner Date with a Toddler and a Preschooler

  1. If we take our son out to eat, it’s usually breakfast when he’s rested and usually in his best mood and people seem more tolerant to have kids around them. I hate taking him to dinner because I always feel like I’m potentially sabotaging some other couple’s kid-free date night if our kid acts up…. and at the end of the day, that’s when he’s most likely to be whiny or have a meltdown. Besides, like you said, it’s just not a relaxing evening trying to keep a busy little body in check. There’s been entire meals where my husband and I don’t say a word to each other because we’re too engrossed in trying to keep our child entertained…. and not throwing food, or his sippy cup, or the silverware….

  2. We just… don’t eat out with them. Just don’t. I know I’m supposed to be teaching them how to behave in a restaurant and if I never take them out how will they ever learn and yada yada but guess what? SO LOW ON MY LIST OF TO DOS RIGHT NOW. Bottom of the priority list. Kids? YOU STAY HOME.

  3. So glad to know that I’m not alone when all my daughter wants to do is lay on her back and put her feet up on the wall. And please know that I have totally forgotten to order for my child! I can certainly relate to this whole post and I only have one!

  4. Exactly why we don’t eat out with the kids. Why would I pay money to feel stressed and not enjoy the meal? I can feel that way at home for free! 😉

  5. Oh man I understand Jenn! Eating out with children is very stressful. I would much rather get takeout and eat at home as a family then go out to a restaurant with a toddler. Lills, of course, loves going out to eat but the whole time I have to try to stop her from standing in the booth and looking at the people next to us.

  6. Until recently, I *hated* going out to eat with my kids!! They never really behaved badly, but I spent my ENTIRE time out worrying they would. Now, at 3 and 6, they are great! It’s fun to go out, and not stressful. Hang in there!! And in the meantime…take-out. It was my go-to for about 2 years, hahahaha…

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