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New Dad Show #2

The pre-baby days when you could go out to a restaurant without thinking to hard about it may be long gone, but that doesnít mean that future evenings at a sit down restaurant offering real silverware is totally out of the question.  The only thing is that now you have to do what most of us real guys donít mind doing:  strategize. 

 First and foremost, stop thinking trendy and start thinking family.  Trendy is for when you can get a babysitter.  Family is for every other time.  There are lots of choices when it comes to fine family fare so just pick one.  If you donít like your first choice when itís all said and done, then move onto the next one.  Itíll be awhile before you completely run out of options and I am sure youíll like at least a couple of the places that you end up eating at.

 New Dads, one of the biggest mistakes that families make when going out to dinner is going at the wrong time.  If your child goes to bed at 8:30 every night then you have no business being seated in a restaurant at 7:30.  Odds are that by the time the main courses arrive you child will be very cranky, fidgety and maybe even loud.  Instead, try to be at the restaurant well in advance, in this case between 5:30 and 6 when service should be faster because the dinner crowd hasnít fully descended on the place yet.  This will give you a couple of hours of cushion before the bedtime crankiness sets in.  

 If you know that your child is prone to tantrums no matter the time of the day try to get an outdoor table when possible and appropriate, or a table near a usable exit.  This way if your kid does loose it for no reason you can run him outside quick and easy and not disturb the other patrons trying to enjoy their dinners and bring him back once heís calmed down.  

 When you get there most places, depending on the size of your child, will immediately offer a highchair.  If this does not happen, ask the waiter or the host for one.   Once seated, and this is where you, New Dad, can become a real hero, pull out the coloring book and washable crayons that you smartly packed.  Do not wait for your child to start acting bored and restless, just pull the first toy as soon as possible.  A lot of family restaurants will have a placemat to color on with some cheap crayons, but donít wait for those things to be offered.  Go for yours first, use theirs as a backup if necessary.  When the coloring gets old, sing a song, the ABCís are always a good choice, count, play patty cake, put together a small puzzle.  Basically do whatever it takes to entertain the baby until the food comes.  But keep it quiet and respectful of those around you.  Your baby may not follow that rule but you can.  Try not to waste too much of your time trying to keep your child quiet, he is a baby after all.  If your child is not old enough to feed himself you may have to get creative about how you eat your food and feed her, but thatís also what your co-parent is for.

 There is a strong possibility that no matter what you do your child is not in the mood to be at a restaurant and thatís OK.  Have whatever you ordered wrapped up and try it again when you feel up to it.  Itís not a big deal.  As dads we tend to envision how an event should go and when it doesnít go as planned we get frustrated.  Frustration is normal, however, donít take it to heart.  Move on to the next thing and try to socialize your youngster as much as possible while they are young.

 Remember, no one knows your child better than you.  Modify my advice as you see fit, consult with your co-parent if you have one, and have a great dinner!

last modified August 2005

New Dad Show #1
New Dad Show #2
New Dad Show #3
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