How To Take a Toddler to Brunch

When we first found out we were having a child, MBH and I decided that we wouldn’t be those parents. We would try to maintain our lifestyle as much as possible.
Yes, I can hear you laughing.

But we’ve tried. And on some days, we’ve even succeeded. We try to set our son up for success of course. He’s happiest when he’s well-rested and full, like any kid, so we try to make sure that’s taken care of and to plan around naps as much as possible.
Most weekends, MBH makes breakfast. Saturday is for fluffy scrambled egg burritos and Sunday is for scrumptious blueberry pancakes. Unless of course, we’re being lazy.

And on lazy weekend mornings, we still try to make brunch happen.

We’ve learned a few lessons along the way:

  1. Order early. Put your child’s food order in with your drinks. Little ones can only sit still for so long, and by the time they start to get restless, the food is here!
  2. Better yet, arrive early. If you’re up at 7 and your favorite place is open at 7:30, bring the family over in glorified pajamas or gym clothes. We’re typically the first folks at the restaurant and have the run of the place. Literally. Our son is happy running from table to table without disturbing anyone else’s experience. Because there’s no one else there.
  3. As always, be ready to run. We bring an assortment of tried & true toys that live in our diaper bag, we let our son play to his heart’s content with plastic straws and packets of jelly, but sometimes those fail. Sometimes everything fails. And when that happens when the restaurant is filling up, one of us immediately brings our son outside to cool off. As much as I think society has lost touch with multi-generations and the benefits it brings to the world, I also realize that everyone – including me – wants to have their brunch in peace. At the first sign of real trouble, one of us is out the door with our son so the other diners can experience a toddler meltdown where it can be properly appreciated: behind a soundproof window.
  4. Embrace to-go. Sometimes everything fails and you just need to call it a day at 8 AM. We had everything going for us this past Sunday. Nice waitresses, an empty restaurant, a happy toddler. Then somehow everything went immediately south. I brought out orange juice to the sidewalk in hopes that would stop the meltdown, he threw it on the floor. I brought out toast, it got the same treatment. When we finally calmed him down and got our orders in, we asked the waitress to just bring them out in to-go boxes so we could be ready to leave at any time.

And of course… we finished the meal pleasantly, without any hint of the rollercoaster of rage our son had gone through mere minutes before. But we did our best to be ready, and that’s all you can do, sometimes. Any time. With a toddler, especially.

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