After two and half years of twin mummyhood, I’ve gleaned a few tips and tricks on how to make eating out as pleasurable as possible for parents and tots alike. In the early days, our little darlings would happily be entertained sat on our lap and then put into a high chair to eat. Now they are older, this just isn’t going to cut it anymore. So here are some handy hints. Bon appetit.
Before you even get to the restaurant, pre book two high chairs. With a singleton baby, I’m pretty sure you could rock up to most places and have no problem getting one. Or at worst, you may have to wait a little bit. However with twins, you don’t want to be in the position of negotiating which one goes in the high chair and which lucky one gets the prime spot on Mummy’s lap.
Don’t forget to mention if you’ll be taking a double buggy in with you. Lots of older pubs have narrow doorways that don’t meet the width requirements of new buildings. Also you’ll be more likely to be seated with somewhere with a bit more space and not crammed into a corner.
In recent months, we’ve opted for restaurants that have an appropriate sized soft play. Some large chains have huge play areas but more than likely you’ll end up having to get in there too as they won’t be able to climb the huge steps. The big play zones are also so big you can’t actually see them in there.
Ideally, we keep them out of their high chair for as long as possible and only strap them in once the food has arrived/been cut up and is cool enough to eat. Mine get so frustrated having food put in front of them that is too hot to eat. This way as soon as they are confined, they can tuck straight in.
If the place you are eating doesn’t have a play area, I’d still recommend taking them for a little walk around once the food has been ordered. You could go on a shape or colour hunt or if you are near a busy road, you could count how many blue cars pass by. When we return to the table, we can pull out a selection of distractions to keep them entertained.
Often in my bag, I’ll have a few small books, stickers and mini magnetic doodle pads. This is pretty much a smaller version of my flight bag essentials. If possible, we avoid screen time unless meltdowns are imminent, at which point we throw anything at the situation. Daddy always has a few Peppa pig episodes saved on his phone in case of such emergencies.
Although it seems cheap, we always only order one meal for them to share. Almost always, the children’s meals are portioned to suit toddlers up to preteens. Not once have we had a food shortage. In fact, it cut down on waste massively. Toddlers often end up with a huge plateful which is far to big for their needs. I’m not sure how long we’ll get away with this for, when the realise they can choose different meals, but for now it works great.
We always take plastic plates and smaller cutlery. It took ages for me to realise that restaurants just don’t cater for toddlers in this way. When we’ve forgotten and had to use adult crockery and a teaspoon, I’ve been constantly on edge worrying that they will knock the plate off and send it smashing to the ground. Bibs and a sealable bag are also packed.
As much as possible we mimic our home seating and routines. For us, this means Jess sits on the left and Emily in the right and we take fruit for after the meal like we’d do at home. This being said, we also relax the rules. If the meal comes with a fruit shoot and ice cream then that’s what they’ll have even if it not what we’d normally give them.
Eating out without drama now seems achievable and the more we do it, the more familiar it will become to the girls. It just such a shame that most places only offer beige food for kids. My pair are right little foodies and yet are restricted by most menus.
Do you enjoy taking your little ones out to eat? What are your do’s and don’ts for eating out?