There was no procrastinating it any longer. If I kept putting it off, I’d have had to declare myself a chicken and a fraud and a fake for everything that I happen to believe a “Fab Mom” should be able to handle. No can do. (Frankly, I need to be a ‘fab mom’ because there aren’t anymore domain names left for mommyblogs… and then I’d really be stuck.)
So I did it. This weekend, with Hubby working late, I loaded my 20-month LadyP and 3-month LilMiss in the car and carted ourselves to The Cheesecake Factory. I didn’t think. I just did. I didn’t have Hubby to help me. But guess what: I’m a big girl. (A “fab mom,” remember?) I had particularly high expectations because The Cheesecake Factory also happened to be LadyP’s first girl’s night out when she was about the same age as LilMiss is now. It worked great back then, so why not try my luck for another go-round. Guess what? It worked again. The 3 of us had a lovely dinner. Nobody screamed. Everyone ate nicely. It was fun and stress-free. Sure, the experience was probably a bit of dumb luck, but I’ve always been a believer in creating your own luck. Here are 3 things I did to increase my odds. Use them. They work:
TIME IT RIGHT. Feed the baby at home, then IMMEDIATELY get everyone in the car. This way, that little thing will sleep when you need him/her to… like when you’re being seated, ordering your food and eating in the restaurant. Keep in mind that my ‘timing it’ meant feeding LilMiss at 3pm, getting in the car around 3:45, then having a 4:45pm-ish dinner. (Afterall, this fab mom puts her babies to bed around 7:30 or 8… so we had to be home by then.) Oh! And don’t take the baby out of his/her chair UNLESS THEY ARE CRYING.
LIE TO YOUR TODDLER. For me, this concerned my iced tea. LadyP is at the age where she wants to drink and eat everything that I’m drinking and eating, but I was going to be damned if I had to skip my tropical iced tea fix. Instead of fighting her between her whining and grabbing hands about why I wasn’t letting her drink my iced tea, I simply took a sip, made a disgusting face and created an over-the-top dramatic scene about how “yucky” it was. “Yuck! Ewww!” I went on and on about how gross it tasted and how “mommys have to drink this… but it’s soooo yucky. yuck.” She bought it, stopped asking for it and shot me concerned looks every time I took more sips.
PRE-SET WHAT YOU ANTICIPATE YOU MIGHT NEED ON THE TABLE THE SECOND YOU SIT DOWN. At the first available window of opportunity – I REPEAT, THE FIRST AVAILABLE WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY – scoop out your bottle, formula/milk, water, juice, toys, wipes, Cheerios, pacifier, etc etc etc and pre-set all of them on the table so that WHEN someone starts to flip out, your tools are handy and ready for you to grab (as opposed to you digging through your cluttered diaper bag while your toddler throws spaghetti onto the next table while shrieking at the top of her lungs… yes, this has happened).
PAY YOUR BILL THE SECOND YOUR FOOD COMES. It goes like this: Your server brings your food. You say thank you and immediately ask for the check. You sign the check while you’re eating. And just like that, all of your business is D.O.N.E. This way, IF someone decides to throw a tantrum because they want out of their high-chair right after they finish their meal, you’re not stuck scrambling, frustrated and trying to catch the attention of your server to ask them to bring you the bill.
The moral of my silly story? THINK AHEAD with babies. In restaurants, and always. And don’t forget to smile. No matter what.