The mental/physical gymnastics of eating out with a toddler. 

A has some fancy black tie affair tonight. Consequently, I decided that I was going to make things easier for myself and take Tuna out for Thai. You know, a sweet mother-daughter Saturday night date type of thing.

All you veteran mothers are all cackling away at me, I know.

It starts with the peace talks that must ensue prior to actually getting out of the house.

“Sweetie, where’s your nappy? Can you go get me your nappy?” This is our new thing which I’m trying to get her used to in training for becoming a big sister. Usually she goes into her room and triumphantly emerges a little while later with a “mappy”, often accompanied by some alarming item of baby first aid which escaped my childproofing efforts.

Of course this attempt to get my child dressed is derailed by her repeatedly asking me for something which she thinks she is pronouncing clearly, but I can’t quite make out. Poor kid, that must be really frustrating. Like those dreams you have where you know exactly what you’re saying but no one else can understand you, which makes you doubt that you’re even speaking coherently to begin with (is it just me that has those dreams?).

While Tuna is getting increasingly exasperated at my failure to understand her toddler lingo, I’m trying to be a superhero and juggle my online business so that I can post something on social media (oh? What business is that, you ask? Well why don’t you have a look right here?! {end marketing spiel]), while also trying to be a dutiful wife and Google “what to use if you don’t have cufflinks” for husband dearest.

Talk about multitasking.

At that point, my in-utero baby made it clear that she wanted – no, needed – some Tom Yum soup so we did a quick “mappy” change, threw some essentials into the stroller and off we went.

Upon our arrival at the restaurant, I spent a few (too many) minutes communicating with the waiter, who I know was really trying to be helpful, regarding the stroller/highchair/adult chair configuration I’d like. After having it explained to me why the stroller location I’d chosen was a “cannot”, I finally agreed to be uncomfortably far away from the stroller compartment containing the baby wipes. Never mind. We’re eating out, we will manage.

Okay. Let’s order.

We have a protein source, a carb source, and….. will she eat the bits of spring onion in the Pad Thai? Coriander is essentially a vegetable, right? Greens – check.

It then becomes a mental and physical (but mostly physical) juggling act: (a) trying to feed my very hungry second-trimester self; (b) trying to sneak in bits of actual nutrition into forkfuls of Pad Thai into my wriggling and distracted 18-month-old; (c) moving said 18-month-old away from all of the hazardous items on our table but then realising she is now too close to the hazardous items on the neighbouring table; (d) really trying to actually feed myself now because the hunger is so unbearable I might faint; (e) wondering to myself, “wait, did she just eat a piece of chilli? I think she just ate some chilli”; (f) repeatedly saying “PLEASE DON’T TOUCH THAT, IT’S HOT!”; (g) noting that white was the wrong colour to wear – for both of us; (h) realising that it was dangerously close to the time I had planned to have her in the bath in the hope of getting her neatly and conveniently in bed so I could have some me-time.

Long story short – we survived and got home. I was exhausted. She was cranky. But not long after that, she was tucked away in her little sleeping bag after we had sung her favourite bedtime song (essentially, naming every person/animal/food she knows and telling her that he/she/it is sleeping, sung to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star – yes, “broccoli is sleeee-eeeping” is one of the verses).

We also got her a backpack yesterday, as it is now her latest obsession whenever we go out. After unsuccessfully trying to fashion a backpack out of one of my eco-friendly shopping bags the day before, we got a legit one which completely made her day. She wanted to go to sleep with it on last night. My only issue with the backpack is that it comes with a “rein”, which I have mixed feelings about. I am torn between thinking it is inhumane and degrading but… let’s not lie, I can totally see how that baby could come in handy alright. We will see.  

The actual issue I have with this backpack is that she suddenly looks like a 5-year-old which A and I both decided we are not ready for. That, and her pigtails today, made me wish she was 4 weeks old again.

They really grow up so fast, and you suddenly realise that your tiny little baby is an independent and assertive little person that can boss you around and tell you what she wants. Stressful as it may have been at the time, I did enjoy our little girls’ date and I know I’ll look back on it one day when I’m out with her and she’s older and tidier and more verbally coherent, and you know what, I’ll miss the days of food everywhere, constant hazard-spotting and cutting chicken into small chewable toddler pieces.

Thanks for being an entertaining date, Tuna. Mama loves you.

6 thoughts on “The mental/physical gymnastics of eating out with a toddler. 

  1. Great post! You’re lucky that Little Miss will eat pad thai. There is no way my little monkey would even try it. Sigh. I was at a friend’s house recently and she offered him what she was giving her toddler for lunch: steamed vegetables. I just laughed. If only!


    • They go through their phases, don’t they?! The idea of steamed vegetables makes me laugh. She will only eat steamed broccoli if it’s doused in lemon juice. Other vegetables are firmly rejected.


  2. Really enjoyed this post. I’m totally with you on the physical effort it takes to get a toddler into a suitable safe position out of arms reach of, well anything! I’m normally too tired to eat in the end…


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