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Friends don’t let friends go out to dinner with babies

Fat Mum Slim /


On Saturday we went out to dinner with friends. And by we, I don’t mean that Hubby and I intelligently got a babysitter, left the kids at home and had a peaceful dinner. No, we went out to dinner with the kids. The restaurant has a play centre attached so we dropped the big kids off for a play and dinner, and went to the adjoining restaurant to eat. That part was smart. It was well-planned, and just smart.

The rest wasn’t.

We sat down, enjoyed a beverage and ordered dinner. Well, to be truthful I sat down for a moment, quickly looked at the menu, picked something I knew I could eat one-handed {it’s a mum thing}, took 3 sips of my drink and then the baby got cranky. She’s not an overly cranky baby. She’s pure sunshine for the most part of life, but she knows what she doesn’t like and that’s sitting in the same place for more than I can relax, and she doesn’t like seeing the same scenery for more than a few minutes.

If you live on the East Coast of Australia you might remember that Saturday was a stinking hot day. The sort of day when you sweat and you hope it looks like a healthy glow, but in fact it looks like Niagara Falls has relocated to your forehead. Yeah, fancy.

So I’m there, trying to make conversation with friends, bopping a baby with Niagara Falls on my head. So nice. So much fun.

So I decide that I’ll go back to the car to feed the baby and put her to sleep. That happens. She’s asleep. I put her in the pram and cover her over. Our friends are impressed, “Did you time this to happen this way?”

I could have been all smug and told them I did. But it’s not how I parent. I’m a fly by the seat of my pants kinda mama {also known as just trying to do what works when it happens}. So I told them, “Oh don’t be impressed. This can, and probably will, go to crap in about ten minutes.”

Dinner arrived. I ate maybe four mouthfuls and then…

Well, I couldn’t have timed it more perfectly. Ten minutes later she woke and she was cranky. A very cranky baby.

So, I decided to relieve other diners from the soundtrack of ‘cranky baby’ and walk her around the car park seven hundred times.

Soon night fell, and that meant I was walking around in the dark, mozzies feasting on me {at least they were having more dinner than I was} and the cranky baby was happy.

I attempted once more to sit back down to dinner and drinks, but it was not happening. Cranky Baby turned her soundtrack up to full blast and no one was happy, so it was back out the car park I went.

I learnt a few things that night:

– Car parks are were couples like to have their best fights. In the dark of the night, when they didn’t know I was lurking, they like to pick at each other. The way one ate, that thing the other said.
– Some people like to sleep in their cars. I don’t know why. But one couple looked pretty cosy, and at around 8:30pm I did consider snuggly up next to them and getting a little shut-eye myself.
– Friends don’t let friends go to dinner with babies. Friends of mine, if you’re reading this and I ask you to go to dinner with me and my cranky baby, tell me no. Remind me that it’s best to eat dinner at home. Tell me again about that one time I spent 3 hours in a car park outside a restaurant while my salmon dinner sat inside neglected.

Eventually we collected the big kids and called it a night. And you know who fell fast asleep on the way home, don’t you? {It was that cranky baby, and maybe me for a micro-sleep moment. Don’t worry, I wasn’t driving}.

Do you have a tale to tell? Have you ever dared to eat out with little people?

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  • Cat Harper

    While we rarely went out when our kids were infants there were many times when one of us ate while the other walked the baby and then the switch would happen and the other parent got to eat while the first one to eat got to walk the baby. Exhausting. It would be a great reminder why we didn’t go out to eat often! LOL!

  • Jo

    I remember this happening when my second child was a baby. My husband’s sister was visiting and suggested going out for dinner with the whole of hubby’s family (the rest live locally). I was reluctant, but as they were the guests and everyone else thought it was a wonderful idea, I went along with it. I brought toys and hoped for the best. All my nieces and nephews were older and happily went off to the play area, so only baby was left at the table of all the kids. She didn’t last long before the toys were thrown away and she got grizzly and bored. Like you, I fed her (at the table), but sleep did not happen. By the time dinner came she was cranky and screaming. I, too, took her outside to calm her down and walked the parking lot. I was relieved by my husband when he’d finished eating and was thankfully able to return to eat my own (now cold) dinner. It was a very stressful night and I wished I’d declined the offer to go out to a restaurant. I much prefer dinner at home where I can at least put a tired and cranky baby to bed if I need to.

  • Little Munch

    I eat out all the time with my little ones BUT it is during the day. At night time they become like little demons and we all end up in tears, so it’s not worth the hassle.

  • Deb

    I hear you! At least while they are still babies it isn’t any fun for parents. Invite people to yours or arrange a babysitter… you deserve it 😉

  • TaraB

    We have dinner each week at both parents houses. Interesting fun with a 12wk old who has just started cluster feeding-but neither family is comfy with me feeding at the table, so to the loungeroom i go with my precut dinner….yes have learnt to cut first then talk later!

  • Cate Brickell

    We have gone out twice with miss7.5mths in tow, and my night ended like yours each time. Even my monthly book club morning tea ends up with me leaving early because of cranky baby syndrome. In her defense, she’s teething. But miss6 and mr4 were fabulous dinner companions, how did this one miss the gene?

  • It’s sooooo not relaxing, is it!

  • Julie M

    Oh I can remember times like that. Its a real “treat” if we get to eat by ourselves. Usually it happens once in a blue moon, like our anniversary, so usually its dinner or lunch with the kidlets. I try and remember to take coloured pencils & paper, books and lots of little snacks so they don’t get bored too quickly, and hopefully gives us time to have at least one glass of wine with our meal (preferrably hot) before leaving with two tired girls. 🙂

  • The Plumbette

    This is all too familiar to me and I’m having another baby in July!! Doesn’t matter how full of sunshine your baby is or how well behaved, you just can’t guarantee how they will act on the night. X

  • Carlea

    I feel your pain!! Our first was only 4 months old when Hubby and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary. Because every other time we had gone out for breaky or lunch, bubba boy was perfect, we thought it would be the same going out to dinner. Err – no… Hubby celebrated our anniversary dinner, alone, while bubba and I were downstairs in the undercover carpark feeding, soothing and desperately trying to get our one man band to settle! We didn’t go out for dinner with him for a loooooong time after that!

  • mummywith3cookies

    Hahaha hubby refuses to take the kids out for dinner. He even tried to see if he could get aeay with not having them at my sisters wedding reception next month where he will have to do most work on his own as i am in the bridal party. Good friends come over for dinner and bring pizza or chinese with them.

  • Gosh no I only have one kid (16 months) and hubby always asks why dont we just go out and not let her rule our life for just ONE night… hahahaha if only he knew it’d be more relaxing at home!

  • Katherine Bibby

    My husband and went out very occasionally with our baby. He was fantastic. We were very lucky. I remember one meal in particular when we met up with an old friend of husbands. I am not sure how old our son was but between 6 – 9 months I think. We fed him at the table and he fell asleep so we put him in the sleeping bag from his buggy (which we had left in the car) and put him on the floor at our feet. He slept on. We picked him up and put him in the car and once home put him into bed. He slept the whole time.

  • Deborah Myers

    We took the kids out for dinner before there was a play ground attached. We learned quickly to pack a suitcase full of toys and activities they hadn’t seen for awhile, finger foods, things to suck on, ( healthy lollipops I made out of fruit ),etc. We also discovered they DID NOT like dark romantic restaurants so we choose well lighted venues. It was a bit like moving Sherman’s Army but we were usually able to have a relaxed successful dinner. All that said, we only did this occasionally and used the occasions to socialize the little ones. If we really wanted a truly relaxing evening where my attention, as the major care giver, wasn’t divided all evening, we went out sans children !!!

  • We dont do it anymore for those exact reason. NOT fun!!! Maybe pre dinner drinks and then go home and thats it!! Too hard. Good on you for having a crack though.

  • Terri

    It makes me feel sad that so many mums are retreating to cars/outside to feed and settle bubs 🙁 My big boy is 12years and I’ve never had trouble with him when he was tiny, I would pass him around Bfor cuddles and let my family and friends all help as soon as he got bored/frustrated/cranky. I do the same with my little man (12weeks old) I BF and settle him wherever we are, my partner and I take turns to eat or entertain the little guy – I find it harder to sit down to a hot meal at home!

    • I usually just feed where ever I am, but it was so hot and sticky it was easiest to feed in the cool of the air-conditioned car.


  • scissorspaperrock

    Oh, I’ve done many a carpark lap with cranky bubs while my family, friends and dinner continue on inside. Why do we do it to ourselves? Haaa!
    Claire xx

  • After three kids we’ve kind of given up. It’s not forever, just a phase, yarda-yarda.. Pretty much just date nights for us.

  • Lex

    Just spent a week in Thailand with a three year old and four month old eating in restaurants three times a day. Ended up being that family feeding their young child fruit salad or chips for dinner while they watched the iPad and we took turns humouring the four month old. Not relaxing and thankfully just us so we didn’t have to attempt coherent, flowing conversation.