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March 26, 2011

Eating in Restaurants

Since the girls were released from “house arrest” when they were three months old, we’ve taken them to restaurants on a relatively regular basis.

At first we timed our outings so they would nap in their carriers. Then we graduated to feeding them Cheerios while we ate…and eventually to giving them a small snack – usually cubed cheese, crackers, and fruit (all brought from home) – while we scarfed down our food.

Those meals were not exactly relaxing, but it still gave me a break from the kitchen and allowed us to get out of the house a few times a month.

My goal was for the girls to eat a meal in a restaurant alongside us by the time they were 18 months old. I was SO very proud when they beat that goal date by a full month…at our all-time favorite Mexican restaurant, to boot!

Since that time last summer, we’ve been taking the girls out to eat about once a week. We don’t make it out every single week, but I really try not to do it any more often.

I want the girls to have experience in a restaurant setting, as hopefully they’ll inherently understand what’s acceptable and what’s not.

But I also have this fear that the girls will begin to like the restaurant food better than Mama’s Home Cooking…and I refuse to have them balk at our dinner table! I rationalize that statistics are on my side if I limit their eating out to one of 21 meals a week [and yes, I have a spreadsheet…HA!].

I still do a little prep work before we go out to eat…

...for a new restaurant, I research their menu and decide what I’ll order for the girls. Unless we’re going to a restaurant that serves fresh fruit, I always pack a little cup of grapes or blueberries to mark the end of the girls’ meal (just like at home). I take the girls’ high chair covers, their toddler forks and their cups of water, and plenty of wipes.

…but little by little, it’s getting easier and easier.

The girls are usually content to sit in their highchairs while we wait for our food, and they even know they’ll have to wait on Mommy to cut it up and for it to cool off before they can eat. They’re pretty consistent with eating what we order them. And as long as we don’t order a seven-course meal (yeah, right!) they’re basically content to sit until we all finish our dinners.

Last weekend, Hubby and I had a late dinner date planned on Saturday night, so we didn’t go out to eat with the girls. It was the funniest feeling I had…

…of course I LOVED every moment of our dinner date. There’s nothing like relaxing over food and drink, and I don’t have to worry if Hubby is touching the underside of the table…

…but I found myself really missing our weekly “date” with the girls. It’s actually **fun** now, and there’s nothing like feeling like a cohesive foursome, out for a fun family dinner.

I didn’t know to look for it, but this certainly seems like a new milestone!

10 comments:

Mandy said...

This sounds just like us!

I over-prepare our trips still. Claire's first dining experience was a 2 weeks old, technically 35 weeks gestation. We were waiting for her sister to be released from NICU for 4 hours. Mother of the year right here rolled into Red.Robin to nurse and grab dinner!

We go out bi-weekly and people are always so surprised at how well behaved they are. My only complaint thus far is our lack of progress with utensils. They are bound, set, and determined to use their hands and the mess that ensues drives me crazy.

It's sounds crazy but I can't wait for them to actually read the menu and debate over what to order. The thought of it cracks me up!

Andrea said...

The little joys in life! Molly always has done awesome in the restaurant, but the Lukester is a whole other story! He really doesn't have the patience to wait very long. I have a bag of crayons, pens, notepads & 1 matchbox car. This usually keeps him happy until his food comes out. He has gotten tons better! It use to be not worth it at all!!! Glad your girls are doing so well! I think their Mommy has a lot to do with that! You are a wonderful teacher! Hope your weekend has been great!

Holly Ann said...

It sounds like you've really got a great handle on eating out with your family! We've always loved eating out (especially since momma's no cook) and we knew having kids wouldn't stop us from doing so. We've been taking all of our kids to restaurants since they were newborns. It's funny to think of it now because it was actually easier when they were smaller. This whole "I-can-do-everything-by-myself" thing has made eating out a bit trickier lately! :)

Deanna said...

I totally know what you mean! We have taken A & M out to eat at least once a week since they were tiny, and for a long time, I questioned WHY. (Though we usually have a couple of family members along for extra hands...my family eats together a lot) Recently, though, we have had a couple of meals that were very smooth and actually FUN and enjoyable. I was afraid I might never say that again!

My girls have never been great at staying in the high chair for a long period, but we have recently switched to booster seats and so far, they have done MUCH better. I think they feel more like a part of the action, sitting at the table like the rest of us. Ha!

MultipleMum said...

My children have rarely seen the inside of a restaurant! We only brave it when we have other 'helpers' with us (usually the Geege's parents).

It is a real shame, but dinner time is still a huge challenge at our place and eating in a nice restaurant would be unpleasant for us, the kids and the poor other diners! I think you are doing a great service to your children. A real treat x

Marcia (123 blog) said...

SOunds fantastic.

Ours vary between okay (wolfing down food) and pleasant. Remember my standards are very low. No throwing of food = successful meal :)

BUT we don't go out every week. We have an eating out budget and when it's done, it's done.

Cuz I'm the mama! said...

This is a great post for me to read right now because we've been struggling with this. We took the girls out on Friday night and it was BAD! If we take them ... we usually do pizza and pre-order or we go out at like 4pm so there is almost no one else there. :) On Friday we dared take them at 5:30 .... waited ...waited for the food and it again made me realize that is not fun at all (for us or them). They were LOUD and it makes me sweat! So..we're back to pre-ordering pizza until they can sit a little longer. And...it usually just one of them, thankfully, and there's no telling who will act up. I just HATE the idea that we are interupting another couple's dinner ... and those "looks" I get. I can stomach those at all!

Barbara Manatee said...

We hadn't been out to eat with the kids in quite some time until last weekend and they were all so good. We went out again tonight after going shopping this afternoon. It was just Qdoba so not as much to conquer but everyone was good again :-)

Rebecca @ Unexplained X2 said...

I think one of the best things we did was take the Crazies out to eat early in their lives. They're very good now and, like yours, wait for us to take care of their meals. Kudos to you!!!

Olusola said...

Girl, you sound like the mommy I want to be when I grow up (that should be in a couple of years I guess)