When it comes to going out to eat with young ones, you may think that the only nuggets that would do are the kind that come in a Happy Meal. Happily (ha) we have found that we can maintain our no-chain rule to dining out even with the twins if we know where to go, and what to do and bring.
What they should have for an experience that is pleasant for you, the staff, and fellow guests
Noise. It doesn’t need to be obnoxiously loud, but a consistent buzz of music and chatter will help avoid stares should/when an outburst occur.
Other families. A good sign that you will be welcome and not glared at.
A changing table. Or I should specify: a clean changing table. This can make or break your experience. There really should be one in both the men and women’s restrooms, though this is rarely the case. Just keep engaging the staff at ones that don’t have them in each in fun conversations about gender roles, and maybe eventually this will change.
High chairs. Also: clean high chairs.
What to do/bring to set yourself up for success
Embrace the sleepy stage. New babies usually sleep a lot. Use this to your advantage to enjoy peaceful meals out. We were even able to enjoy nice dinners at our favorite restaurant in those early months.
Embrace lunch. When this stage has passed, lunch has proven easier for a family outing. Bedtimes are not a concern, and you are less likely to interrupt romantic meals. (Although it is more likely you might get to eavesdrop on a Match.com date.)
Bring Supplies. Bring more diapers, wipes and extra clothes than you think they will need.
Bring Food. Same with milk/formula, puffs, etc.
Be adaptable. You may not get to finish your meal, or sit still the whole time and that is okay. You came, you saw, you ate (at least a little. Hopefully).
Become a regular. This is probably what most contributes to an enjoyable time. If your kids are comfortable in a space, you know what to expect. This also means the staff knows your kids, and will greet you warmly. There are a couple of places we go where they have watched them grow from the first time I refused a beer, to us proudly carrying newborns in car seats, to their first go in a highchair. We are lucky that this also comes with perks, such as being handed (without asking) a bag to stash recently vomited on clothes in (thank you Gritty’s) to the restaurant owner holding a grumpy child so I could have a few bites in peace (thank you Orchid).
Wishing you happy eating!