Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sometimes we let them eat in public: Eight tips


1. In honour of some shame-free enjoyment of food, let's all go out for dinner, shall we? Burgers at Milestones it is, then.

2. When taking young children to a restaurant, keep in mind that the meal will be eighty-nine percent colouring, six percent bathroom trips, and five percent eating. So don't skimp on the crayons and paper. Usually restaurants will provide the paper and crayons, but always bring your own, just in case. Don't make the same mistake I've made in the past. A crayonless meal never ends well.*

3. If Shira is joining you for dinner, keep in mind that the percentages are a little more fifty/fifty, split between colouring and eating (no bathroom trips for this diaper-wearing girl), so be sure to order enough food. Plus she'll finish Alyce's meal, too. She's good like that.

4. Order food for the little ones as soon as you sit down. Alyce is familiar with this practice and now simply orders pancakes and syrup from the hostess as soon as we walk into a restaurant, even if they don't sell pancakes. But just in case, bring snacks. Lots of them.

5. Here is the ideal restaurant meal schedule: Order food for the kids before taking off your coats, get them colouring right away (no messing around with pleasantries), order your own food when the server brings their food, and then, and this is key, make sure their dessert arrives at the same time as your own meals. My children don't talk or move while consuming ice cream=the perfect time to enjoy five minutes of your meal in peace.

6. That wasn't a typo. If you can get five minutes of quiet, you're winning this game.

7. Don't mess around. Get the bill as soon as you can and get out of there before any meltdowns begin. I repeat: no dawdling. It never ends well.

8. Pat yourself on the back for exposing your children to the world of public eating. And then admit that you think you'll just eat at home from now on.


*In cases of emergency, little creamers can be used as blocks with which to build towers.


  1. my tips:

    1) If the restaurant is Chinese, order noodles. The baby will be very entertained jiggling & dangling bits of noodle in front of his face, occasionally stuffing one in his mouth and then spitting it out again (diners at the next table? No so amused by this final maneuver.)

    2) Order spoons... lots of spoons... you know, those nice big, rounded white spoons you get at Chinese restaurants for soup... but only if they're made of plastic. If the restaurant only has ceramic spoons, cancel that order for spoons (baby really likes those spoons, but he also likes to throw them crashing to the floor.)

  2. This is great. Because every mother of more than one child has learned the hard way about what happens when your child gets too hungry, or the crayons run out. I am also not above spilling out a packet of sugar and letting them lick the tip of their finger to dip into it over and over till their food arrives. I call it an appetizer.

  3. The timing you recommend is brilliant. I wish I had thought of that earlier, especially since there is never any need to deliberate over Liam's meal choice. We always end up at Boston Pizza, and he always has "bugs & cheese".

    I recommend bringing your own crayons if possible. All too often, restaurant crayons are those 4 or 5 packs (not enough colours) of those cheap, overly waxy crayons without enough pigment that make for a highly unsatisfactory colouring experience.

    On a related note, if you can find it (online or otherwise), you should seek out the episode of Reading Rainbow where they visit the Crayola factory and show you how they make crayons. I love it. I believe the episode title is "How much is a million?"

  4. I love all the tips! Such a resource you are! Between the noodles, spoons, and sugar appetizers, I'm all set! And Stacey, bugs and cheese are the favourite here, too.

  5. This had me laughing out loud. You are so funny. Another crayon tip from a mama whose daughter got hand foot and mouth disease recently: bring your own crayons in case the ones they have are grossly contaminated (brought to you by 2 crazy nicu nurses). Rob was flipping his lid when I let Finley dump all the sugar packets out the other day at a pub. I was all "really dude, this is nothing." Glad you agree :)