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Eating out with a toddler

(29 Posts)
helloandthankyou Sun 30-Aug-20 20:20:57

I think I just had the worst meal out I’ve ever had with my DH and our DS who is 23 months.

It’s my birthday and I didn’t plan anything because I’m six months pregnant and didn’t want any pressure. However I thought we could go for a quick sandwich at a lovely Farm Cafe up the road. DS fell asleep in the car on the way there. I had previously tried to put him down three times and he wasn’t having any of it and in hindsight I shouldn’t have bothered with the cafe when he hadn’t napped but I was optimistic. We tried to transfer him into his pram but he woke up after a few minutes of sleep.

He started whining pretty soon after waking up. We got all of his diggers out and he threw them all off of the table. I got his ‘water colour’ pen out and he threw it into the water jug on the table and then proceeded to climb onto the table. We took everything off of the table and told him to get down. He got down and started pushing his pram around (he can’t see over the top of it so was pushing it into peoples tables). He then proceeded to run out of the restaurant and DH said ‘I’ll go’. Meanwhile our puppy started crying as DH and DS had gone outside and she doesn’t like the family to be split up. I order our food, leave the table and take the puppy out to stand with DS and DH. DS is running all over the place including into the road and around other people’s tables. We all stay outside until the food arrives. I do a nappy change outside whilst DS screams because he doesn’t want his trousers back on. I tell DH to go and have his but he doesn’t want to leave me as it’s my birthday. So I decide to bring all the food outside. There aren’t any tables so I have to put the food on the floor. Meanwhile DH has gone into the distance to chase DS who has run off so far we can’t see him. I eat my food quickly. So unbelievably stressed out that I go and get DS and tell DH that he’s we are leaving and to please get all our things which are strewn all over the cafe inside and outside. We try to put DS into his pram and he starts screaming and having a huge tantrum. He throws himself onto the ground and won’t be picked up. DS throws him over his shoulder and we walk back to the car. Meanwhile our puppy has jumped into a pond and then does a poo on the way back to the car and there aren’t any dog poo bins on site. So we have to get a screaming toddler into his car seat, wet, muddy puppy in the back with a bag of dog poo in there and DH has to go back and collect all of our things, attempt to eat some of his cold meal that’s on the floor outside and pay up.

Worst £30 I have ever spent. The most stressful meal I have ever had. Contemplating never ever ever eating out again.

Please share your stories! I so need some cheering up


OP’s posts: |
LouiseTrees Sun 30-Aug-20 20:25:17

At least it was only 30 quid! But it’s not how you would want it to be on your birthday. Can anyone take your DS next weekend so you can actually have a nice meal together?

Justforgiggles Sun 30-Aug-20 20:29:25

Oh my goodness.. I pictured this in my head and I don't know whether to laugh and cry.. So.. I took DD whose 23 months out for a pizza two weeks ago.. Biggest waste of money. DD sits at the table now and refuses to sit in high chair.. She stands up on chair trying to climb onto table, chucks her beaker across the restaurant, water everywhere.. Then proceeds to run away from me shouting "daddy go.. Daddy go away" at the top of her lungs (her dad and I have recently split up) finally manage to grab her and throw some pizza down her neck.. She throws the whole basket of garlic bread on me.. The staff come over with crayons and paper for her (feeling sorry for me I presume) she breaks all the crayons and draws over the table.. A kind waitress brings over a free ice cream for her in an attempt to pacify her.. To top it all off.. She throws the ice cream all over mummy.. So by the end of it, I'm a garlicky, Ice cream covered mortified mess.. Just wanted the ground to swallow me up.

Justforgiggles Sun 30-Aug-20 20:34:25

@helloandthankyou I'm chuckling to myself about the dog poop in the car with you after the day you had.. It's like the final nail in the coffin isn't it 😭😭

CeibaTree Sun 30-Aug-20 20:42:19

Between 18 months to about 2.5 years was just the worst for taking the DC out to eat, just a stressful experience for all concerned. But it's worth persevering as my DC are mostly really well behaved and very pleasant dining companions in restaurants now and I think that's because they are so used to eating out and being in a restaurant environment. Sorry your birthday wasn't great, I hope you managed to have a more relaxed evening smile

Higgeldypiggeldy35 Sun 30-Aug-20 21:04:04

Bless you that sounds so stressful. My DS threw a plate of spag bol all over himself and the floor in Wetherspoon's once and then refused to stop running off. If we tried to get him to set down he screamed his head off. I used to be one of those smug people (before children) that thought I would never use tech to distract my child....oh how foolish I was. Now we can just about get through a whole meal out whilst my son watches Hey Duggae!

ShinyGreenElephant Sun 30-Aug-20 21:05:57

We went for a meal on the 2nd night of 50% off in a restaurant we usually love. Well they appeared to have crammed 3x the usual amount of tables in, it would have been shockingly busy even without covid and we were really uncomfortable but we were all starving, we'd driven 20 mins and the older kids were excited so we decided to stay. It was horribly hot in there and our 2yo decided instantly she wasn't happy - threw all her toys, wouldn't sit on our knees, in her high chair or on a chair, was very loud and annoying and people were clearly irritated as the tables were very very close. We waited 20 mins for drinks then DD immediately threw my husbands pint all over him, splashing the woman at the next table who was not at all amused. He ended up taking her outside for a walk to cool off and calm down, during which she managed to lose one of her new shoes that I'd bought 2 days earlier (he didn't notice hmm ) by the time the food finally arrived we were all ravenous, but little DD only wanted to eat my pasta, which was too spicy so she made a song and dance after every bite glugging her drink then demanded more. Her dinner was untouched. Meanwhile DSD10 decided DD11 had got the better half of the pizza and went into a massive sulk, moaning at the top of her voice. When the bill came they hadn't taken the 50% off and I'd handed over my card before I realised and was so eager to stop the waitress swiping it I knocked the card machine out of her hand causing the 6 million people in there to stare at me like I was a drunken lunatic (im pregnant so couldnt even have a glass of wine). Then to top it off when we got in DD did a poo right next to the potty, stepped on it and sobbed inconsolably because she doesnt like anything on her feet.

Justforgiggles Sun 30-Aug-20 21:13:56

@ShinyGreenElephant I'm sorry but im crying after reading that 😭😂😂😂😂.. You poor woman... You can actually look back on it now and either laugh or cringe. 6 million people 😂😂😂

doublethecuddlestwinmum Sun 30-Aug-20 21:14:17

I've got a fair few similar stories of attempting to eat in public places with my now 3.5 yr old twins. It's certainly reassuring to hear it's not just us blush

ReturnofSaturn Sun 30-Aug-20 21:31:43

I can't take my son out to eat he's just over 2 and a half and we haven't really been able to from around 7 months when he was crawling!! As he has always been a nightmare.
Apart from the odd place where you can sit in the play area bit.

He's not getting any better either as he is behind in learning/communication etc

sar302 Sun 30-Aug-20 21:39:29

That sounds exactly like eating out with our toddler at that age. If it's any consolation, he's now just over 2.5 and we went out for lunch the other day - basically for the first time in 2020 - and instead of whining, screaming, spilling water, trying to stand himself in the eye with a fork and wanting to get up and run around, he sat nicely with a colouring book and "read" one of his books to himself until the food came! I couldn't believe it was the same child! Hopefully with time they'll do better!

sar302 Sun 30-Aug-20 21:39:56

*stab himself rather

AriettyHomily Sun 30-Aug-20 21:42:08

Sage advice from my uncle, don't try anything civilised until they're seven.

Disappointedkoala Sun 30-Aug-20 22:19:56

Mine spent a good 15 minutes hiding under the table today and then did an interpretive dance to the restaurant music while the other tables tried to enjoy their Sunday roasts. Hope they enjoyed it.

justasking111 Sun 30-Aug-20 22:22:48

I use a phone and put Peppa or cocomelon on. blush

Brieminewine Mon 31-Aug-20 17:20:40

Oh god these stories fill me with dread! We have a 14MO and eat out around three times a week! At the minute BabyTV on the iPad and some treats does the trick!

FizzingWhizzbee123 Tue 01-Sep-20 18:59:59

You poor thing. What a nightmare! No wonder you’re in despair. I am generally ‘anti tech’ at the table as I think it’s quite often a bit lazy and it’s nicer for families to spend the meal together. But in circumstances like that, especially when contending with a tired toddler, I think I would have just whipped out my phone and put on some cartoons so I could at least eat my meal without indigestion/running around/eating off the floor.

One day you’ll look back and laugh about this. It’ll be a great story to tell DS when he’s older.

Fivebyfive2 Tue 01-Sep-20 20:13:02

I'm crying with a mix of laughing but also absolute dread... We have an almost 9 month old and it's like looking into the future! We haven't taken him out to eat much at all because of lockdown etc and can just imagine him trying to crawl onto the table 😕

AllTheCakes Tue 01-Sep-20 20:27:43

I was feeling a bit overconfident and took my 18 month old out for lunch. Big mistake. As soon as he was in the high chair and the food wasn’t immediately available he had an absolute meltdown. When the food did arrive, he was too far gone to actually eat it and started throwing it on the floor and he ran trimmer. The staff had to box it up for us as I dragged him home screaming blush

Jmommy Tue 01-Sep-20 20:31:17

Tbh, whenever we eat out with our toddler, we usually just let him watch peppa pig on our phones while sitting either on a high chair or in his stroller. That’s often the only way we can actually eat and enjoy at least to some extent.

MeadowHay Wed 02-Sep-20 11:10:13

Ahhh OP. Sorry to all turned to shit (literally!!?). We rarely bother eating out with DD2 because she's always been high needs/spirited. Our best case scenario is her sitting at the table for 20 mins or so but often she won't even do that so it's not usually an enjoyable experience for us. Nevermind with a dog to add to the mix! We've not taken her out to eat anywhere since covid at all because our usual ways to get through being out would include her having a wander of the place (if it was empty enough obviously and closely supervised) and touching everything in sight which obviously wouldn't fly now. But I don't really miss it anyway!

GrumpyHoonMain Wed 02-Sep-20 11:13:25

I take my 8 mo out with this for meals regularly and the mess he makes is unbelievable. Thankfully he loves eating rather than roaming at restaurants but does insist on eating anything I am so there’s never any point bringing / buying food for him.

uglyface Wed 02-Sep-20 12:08:55

We will do anything to avoid our toddler accompanying us on meals out. I’m all for teaching them to eat nicely but I honestly cannot be doing with the fight when she’s not yet two!

We had one pub meal while away in Dorset and she was fine for the first half an hour when distracted by food, but then came the fun. Unbuckling herself from her highchair, standing up, yelling HELP, STUCK, HELP at passers by....

I whipped the iPad out and put Room on the Broom on silently, only to be glared at by another toddler mother who pointedly turned her little one’s highchair away so he couldn’t see the screen.

I did think on balance a little bit of tech might be preferable to Houdini-esque high kinks, but apparently I was sadly mistaken and am a terrible mother. Good job that same woman didn’t see me whip out a Fruit Shoot in the estate agents the other day to keep DD still...

theruffles Wed 02-Sep-20 14:01:38

That sounds awful, but know that you're not alone! I met my parents in a local cafe with my 2 year old DD recently. I thought we could manage 45 mins-1 hour without her causing too much fuss, especially since we'd ordered her some chips and juice as a treat. They didn't have any highchairs so I sat her on a bench between me and DF. She was distracted by a book and emptying my purse for about 10 mins, then ate some of her food for a few mins but then decided she would try and climb onto the table. She was retrieved and sat back down, coaxed with juice. All this time I've been eating one-handed with one hand on her to make sure she doesn't slip out under the table and off to explore. I had had a few bites of my food when she decided to stand up on the bench and dance. She loses her footing (of course) and in catching her, she knocks her plate of chips and ketchup off the table. It was all down me, in my hair. DF tries to pick her up so I can clean myself up and she proceeds to have a crying fit because she suddenly only wants me to hold her. In the midst of this my DM helpfully tells me I've got ketchup in my hair, like I wasn't already aware of it. We paid and made a quick exit from the cafe, still covered in ketchup and carrying DD because she started crying everytime I tried to put her down.

Eating out with a toddler is not for the faint of heart!

1940s Wed 02-Sep-20 14:07:56

This is when ten minutes of Peppa on my iPhone saves the day.... I was anti screens before my child (and still am in full control of usage and it's not often) but if I'm in a restaurant then ten / twenty minutes on the iPhone once I've excused the colouring / the etch a sketch / the stickers.... really works and allows me to finish my meal and pay and pack up!

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