Eating Out Brings Challenges, Reveals New Perspectives for New Parents

When you become a parent, life changes, and as the father of a 1-year-old, I can assure you that your perspective will change, too!

This is never more evident than when we go out to eat. We don’t just simply park at the restaurant and hop out of the car, walk in and sit down. No, there’s a lot more to it now. In fact, the process begins before we even leave the house! Here are just some of the things we do before going almost anywhere:

  1. Pack a bib
  2. Pack baby food and formula
  3. Make sure there are enough diapers in the diaper bag
  4. Is there a clean toy in the diaper bag?
  5. What about snacks?
  6. Strap him in the car seat (can be more difficult than it sounds)

The changes in our routine don’t go away once we arrive at the restaurant. Taking a seat takes longer than before—finding or asking for a high chair, cleaning the high chair, wiping down the table, finding a place for the diaper bag, etc.

New Parent Tip:

Inspect the high chair before you go through the effort of wiping it off and putting your child in it. Sometimes the straps are missing or broken and you have to start over. 

If we’re eating at a traditional sit-down restaurant, the adventure continues. Next comes the waiter or waitress. We can always tell whether that person has a child by the way they serve us. Oftentimes, the plates, knives, napkins, drinks, etc. get placed within reach of our 1-year-old. We have had to sharpen our ninja skills since becoming parents as we have learned to quickly move things away from him when this happens.

Last night, we went out to eat and I caught our son grabbing a sharp knife used to cut bread. I had a fork in my mouth at the time. In order to grab the knife before he injured himself (or me), I had to let go of the fork and hold it with my lips while the prongs started trying to cut into the roof of my mouth. But at least I was successful in rescuing my son from the knife that seemed bigger than anything in a horror movie!

I know that wait staff can often feel overwhelmed, so adding another request to their list isn’t always welcome news. But if you’re a restaurant worker and don’t have experience with young children, please remember this—don’t put anything near a baby or toddler. They will pick it up. If it’s a drink, they might spill it. If it’s a knife, they might hurt themselves. If it’s a hot plate, they will get burned. If it’s someone else’s food, they will touch it. I can’t help but think if I was a waiter with no kids, I’d probably be guilty of placing things too close to young children. It’s amazing the things we learn when we have a new perspective.

We ate lunch at a Mexican restaurant after church on Sunday, and I was very thankful the waiter told me my plate was extremely hot and he placed it as far away from my son as he could. It was one of the hottest plates I’ve felt.

[Related: What I’ve Learned 1 Year After Leaving Broadcast News]

We’re also trying to keep our son relatively quiet, especially if we are in a quieter restaurant. Sometimes he is in a quieter mood, but other times he wants to talk (babble) or make loud noises. We now find ourselves choosing restaurants based on their noise level so that we can sort of blend into the background noise.

How do you manage eating out with your youngsters? How have children changed your perspective? Please reply below!

 

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