We don’t eat out. Well, we haven’t since baby number 2 came along last September and even before then it was intermittent with baby number 1 in tow. We just preferred to avoid what fast became an unpleasant experience for us.
Two adults with one baby is a good ratio to deal with the variables a baby can throw at you and you still get to eat your food, even if you have to do it in shifts. Some days admittedly can be better than others and meals out are a better experience in ‘child friendly’ food chain but still, you’re eating out, with a baby.
I tried once to have lunch out with both babies on my own. I went to a local garden centre restaurant. It was hell. The little of my lunch i managed to inhale whilst i wrestled napkins, knives, forks, salt & pepper shakers from my toddlers iron grip was only managed in between pushing my littlest baby crying in her pram wanting any number of things. I found it impossible to feed the baby and look after the toddler at the same time. After a few times trying i swore i wouldnt try it again, for a long long time.
We then tried having lunch out together, the husband and I with the girls. The ratio of two adults to two babies seemed a far better idea. Until i came to pack our bag to go out, it actually looked like an over night bag when i had finished, bottles, bibs, change of clothes, nappies, toys, water beakers, milk bottles, wipes, muslins and the pram as baby still couldn’t sit up or in a high chair. We quickly learnt that whilst it was do-able it was unpleasant and neither of us got to eat and enjoy our food. As for conversation that never got beyond ‘can you pass/give me/help/pick up’….
We didn’t feel hard done by. Far from it. We reasoned a few years off the eating out market was no sacrifice in comparison to having our girls and it wouldn’t be forever, just until they could sit still long enough to put their own food in their own mouths.
Well, today that day finally arrived. Actually for the second time this week it arrived (we were retesting to see if it were a fluke now we were feeling brave).
We went to Nando’s the South African chain serving Portuguese Peri Peri chicken. We had been out at a school fundraising day and mid way through, spontaneously may i add, decided to take a detour home via Nando’s. Both girls were tired and both were hungry. Not the greatest combination to start off with.
Fortunately it was still early and fairly quiet so we had pretty much the run of the restaurant and a giant booth to accommodate us. We ordered a family platter and shared it out among us. The girls ate the same as us and it was nice to be having lunch out. I even managed a glass of wine during our quick lunch.
I don’t think you can seriously expect any more than 45-60 mins maximum of good/acceptable behaviour out of your child eating out, even that is pushing it. During that time there were no drama’s, no screaming, no exploding nappies or projectile vomaying, just a young family enjoying an early lunch out. Once we were done, we sashayed out with the girls waving and us thanking them for our nice lunch and even the sun was shining. For someone who ate lunch out every working day in a high class restaurant and dinner out 4-5 times a week it felt strangely odd and really, really nice.
Something so simple has been out of our reach for sometime but today i saw a glimpse of the future and an enjoyable experience as a family, eating out.