Brace yourself! Bring a book. Wear wipeable clothing
1. People will stare
Actually, they’re staring because your child just covered them all in a fine layer of spaghetti carbonara. (Oops.)
2. You will bend down to pick things up 85,000 times
There goes the cup. There goes the fork. There goes the teether. There goes the spoon. There goes the bread (repeat until tears start to form in your sleep-deprived eyes).
3. Always ask for the blue roll
If you’re a seasoned visitor to restaurants with the under-fives, you will have learned that the blue roll cleans up everything.
If you ask for it, you will have also gained the grudging respect of the staff, who will do anything not to clean up after your child themselves.
4. Yes, it’s a meal, but not as we know it
For the starter, there’s a smear of rice cake across your front, combined with a tantrum about a banana. The main course is a refusal to stay in the high chair followed by a side order of screaming.
Pudding won’t happen, because you will have been asked to leave.
5. There’s no such thing as a child-friendly restaurant
Yes, there might be high chairs and pizza-making stations, but it’s hard to stay friendly when 50 rampaging Oompa-Loompas start dismantling the counter.
(And yes, we’ll pay for the damage).
6. A toddler is the most demanding patron
Toddlers have been known to send things back to the kitchen for being the wrong shape, slightly crispy, or not made of chocolate.
Of course, when we say "sending back to the kitchen" we mean "having an uncontrollable hysterical meltdown in public."
7. You will definitely be seated next to a disapproving old couple
Yes, Enid and Jim just went to their local restaurant for a quiet lunch. In comes your toddler, and has an "accident" just as their mulligatawny arrives.
Sorry, Enid and Jim.
8. Toddlers are not amazing conversationalists
When you go for a meal with your friend, the wine flows and the banter is non-stop.
When you eat out with a toddler, your three stock phrases are "no throwing", "stop hitting Mummy" and "please don’t eat the flowers."
9. Bring a book
Oh, not for you. You won’t read a book again until they’re about eight.
No, bring a book with lots of entertaining things for them to do. This stops them from putting the salt and pepper grinders down the toilet.
10. Children love to eat with their hands
Children are so tactile and explorative! Bless 'em.
But while that might be cute in the sandpit, it’s really not so great with soup.