Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Ladies Who Love to Lunch (Great tips for Dinning out with your toddler)

This past week Chickpea and I got a lovely invitation to have lunch with the girls. Alright, let's be honest here. Yes, I got an invitation from some of my fabulous single girlfriends ("The Singletons" as I call them) to get together for lunch, but the invitation was not extended to Chickpea. I was dying for some great food and juicy dirt regarding "The Singletons" latest escapades around town. Knowing I did not have a sitter available for when they wanted to get together, I decided to do the right thing (I am a mother now, and have to lead by example or at least start trying) so I was honest and told them  that I did not have a sitter but, would still like to come, I would just have to bring Chickpea in tow. Now as you could imagine "The Singletons" where very reluctant to accept my offer, as they imaged a 23 pound terrorist holding there perfectly fabulous lunch hostage with screaming fits, temper tantrums, smelly diapers, and bad table manners. But somewhere deep in their hearts they took pity on me and agreed to still have lunch even if Chickpea had to come along.

So it was official Chickpea and I where ladies who lunched with other ladies without kids. I was so excited, but at the same time so anxious that Chickpea would have a poor showing at the lunch, proving to "The Singletons" that toddlers and lunch go together as well as suede Manolo's and a rainy day. So the big day finally arrived, I figured that my first plan of attack was to make Chickpea look so damn cute, that even if she waged a full fledged assault on lunch, how could they resist the adorable outfit she was wearing. I was sure to arrive early and get "camp Chickpea" set up with plenty of time (you know, the high chair, the cover for the high chair, the kid friendly placemat, the bib, the sippy cup, the snacks, etc.) as well as secure the best table. No sooner do I sit down "The Singletons" arrive one by one, and every one of them commenting on how adorable Chickpea looked. As I thought to myself, "My first plan of attack to win them over with adorable charm  is working, I simply prayed for divine intervention to take over for the rest of the lunch".

Lunch was great, catching up with the girls, and all the juicy gossip. At one point I even remember thinking that Chickpea is handling herself like an old pro, she even seemed to be paying attention to everyone's conversations (it's a good thing she has no idea of what we where talking about). It was about two hours later that we were starting to wrap things up and pay the bill when one of "The Singeltons" commented on how well behaved Chickpea was, and that she is always welcomed to future lunches. I have to admit; nothing makes me prouder than when someone compliments my daughter especially when it is regarding her behavior. Now you’re probably thinking that divine intervention thing worked out in my favor, but actually here are some practical tips to ensure meals out with your toddler are fabulous and not disastrous.   
(Thanks Parents Magazine for these great tips)

1. Pick kid friendly restaurants whenever possible, if there are no kid friendly options choose a table outside that way if your little one gets a little loud it is less obvious (plus kids love the fresh air).

2. Know your toddler's schedule; don't plan a lunch/ dinner date close to their nap/ bedtime.

3. Avoid restaurants during peak times, because they are busy service is likely to be slower leaving more opportunities for your toddler to meltdown.

4. Order your toddler's meal right when you sit down in order to avoid having to wait a long period of time for his or her food.

5. Understanding that it is natural for toddlers to have a short attention span and the urge to explore, don't expect them to sit for long periods of time. Give in temporarily and talk a brief walk outside, or wander around an empty part of the restaurant.

6. Plan ahead and bring some of your toddler's favorite toys/ snacks to keep them entertained. As a last resort you can ask the server to bring a bread basket to keep little hands busy and mouths occupied.

7. Include your child in conversation, engage your toddler about her surroundings, and make eye contact. Hopefully this will help your toddler from getting bored or antsy. Remember if your toddler feels ignored or bored they will do whatever it takes to get your attention- and everyone's in the restaurant.

8. Lastly, don't forget to praise your toddler for how well they are sitting or eating.

P.S. I over heard the On the Fly girls planning a HUGE GIVE-AWAY to the followers of my blog.  So get the word out, and tell all yor friends so they can potentially get some FREE STUFF!

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