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!