The Waking of Rip Van Winkle

It may seem impossible after caring for a newborn, but at some point you will actually emerge from your lair and reenter the world.  After shrinking back from the light, you may realize you are hungry and head to your favorite restaurant.  Chances are that so much time has passed, your favorite restaurant has already been taken over by another chain.  You may even feel Rip Van Winkly, that strange sensation that you’ve been snoozing for twenty years while the world has transformed around you. 

The first time you eat at a restaurant with your newborn, you will most likely over pack.  You will bring diapers, wipes, bibs, burp cloths, extra clothes, hand sanitizer, drinks, food, and toys, toys, toys.  Keep in mind that you are going out for dinner, not moving.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the more toys you bring, the more your baby will be entertained.  If you over pack your bag, you will never even open it; he will sleep through the whole outing.

The second time you dine out, you might bring the same baby gear, and this time your baby will be awake.  When he fusses, you will give him a toy from the bag, and he will promptly throw it on the floor.  Pick it up and hand it to him, and he will throw it on the ground again.  The same pattern will happen with the second toy, the third, the fourth, and so on.  At some point, you will finally realize that children never play with their own toys at a restaurant.  They are looking for something different and exciting.  When you stop bringing the toys, your bag will miraculously get lighter.

Important rule:  When a child throws or drops toys at a restaurant, they never land at your feet. You may spend countless times running down the aisle to retrieve a thrown toy and apologize to the other diners.  In fact, you will be amazed when you witness The Frankenstein, the sudden new life toys will take on, as they roll, turn, and ricochet into someone’s soup.  When dining out, avoid bringing toys that bounce, roll, or make noise.  Babies can be entertained with spoons, fun straws, and menus. Crayons will just be eaten by the baby, and then you can expect some colorful diapers.  The best option is to ask to sit next to a window.  A baby can be easily entertained by all of the activity going on outside.  Babies are fascinated by movement, and usually they will be able to see moving people, cars, birds, and trees out of a restaurant window.

A backpack will not only save your back, but it will also free up your hands for taking care of the kids.  Learn to only put the bare minimum of supplies in the bag.  In the summertime, be sure to remove any cups or food from the bag as soon as you return home.  If you leave cheese crackers or a cup or bottle with a residue of milk in the bag, you may have surprise visitors.  Nothing loves sour milk like an army of ants.

A successful outing with a baby mostly depends on timing.  Anything more than two errands at a time can be overwhelming to a small child.  A trip to a store or restaurant should be planned, if possible, to completely avoid nearing nap or bed time.  Kids usually handle errands the best at 10:00 in the morning, when they are refreshed and wide-awake.  Restaurant outings work well around 5:00 p.m., but 6:30 is pushing bedtime and results in cranky, exhausted children and parents.  We have all seen a screaming child at a grocery store or a restaurant and sympathized with the hysterical mother. If you check the clock, the child is most likely crying because, like his mom, he would rather be in bed.

 

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