9 stages of dining out with your tot

Junior’s behaviour will make you think twice about dining out with her. Here’s how it can all go down(hill)…


Going out for dinner as a family always seems like a good idea in theory. After all, eating together strengthens your family’s bond. Besides, good company turns a pleasant meal into an unforgettable one.  

That said, eating as a family with a strong-willed 3-year-old is probably easier said than done. From choosing an affordable family-friendly restaurant to getting your family out of the door, then back home in one piece, many things can go wrong along the way ― and it probably will, too. Here’s how…

Stage 1: Wardrobe issues

You’ve planned the perfect outfit in your head for yourself, your hubby and your mini-me. But your tot has other ideas. She insists on wearing her Frozen costume. You try to bribe her with cake later if she puts on the cotton dress you had painstakingly ironed the night before. A heated exchange over the attire ensues but neither party wants to give in. In the end, you stick to your guns and stuff your screaming tot into the dress ― who cares if she likes it or not?

“If you didn’t force her to wear what you wanted, we won’t have to worry about being late.”

Stage 2: The silent treatment

You all manage to leave the house, even though it’s almost a half hour past your expected time of departure. Worrying that you may lose your reservation, you urge your husband to hurry. Huffily, he tells you he knows how long it’ll take to get to the eatery, then adds, “If you didn’t force her to wear what you wanted, we won’t have to worry about being late.” You tell yourself to keep calm, refusing to ruin the prospect of a good meal. Your whimpering child, who’s finally recovered from her tantrum, is still giving you the cold shoulder.

Stage 3: Excitement builds

Your tot is a totally different person when she’s in the presence of others. She smiles angelically at the staff. You ask the waiter for colouring sheets and pencils to entertain your little one who’s really excited to be in the restaurant then you order for the family.

Stage 4: Curiosity takes over

Your mini-explorer is looking everywhere else instead of completing the colouring sheets. Her eyes dart from the stain on the floor to the three women sharing a slice of chocolate cake at the next table.