My Restaurant-With-A-Toddler Battle Plan

Lately we’ve been really living it up, and for us, YOLO has become YOHO (you only have one).  Meaning, as Leah gets older and the inevitability of having two kids creeps closer, were trying to make the most of having only one. Suddenly the mentality of “oh we have a baby, thanks for the invite but we can’t because of bedtime” has flown out the window and we are accepting each and every invitation that comes our way with a haste that borders on desperation.  So we have been eating out a lot thinking: we can only do this for so long while we’re still 2 on 1!!


A couple weeks ago, out for Mexican food (Leah loved the Mariachi’s)

And just to clear the air, no I’m not pregnant, but it seems like that second one just sneaks up on you!

Anyway, last night we decided what the hell, let’s go out for dinner and grab a few drinks. And I’m happy to say that we’ve gotten pretty good at keeping Leah peaceful during dinner where she is confined to a “hi-kee” (high chair). So without further ado….my step-by-step ninja strategy for conquering a toddler in a restaurant.



Leah actually took this one a while ago

  1. Arrive to restaurant, sit opponent in high chair.
  2. Make small talk with opponent about location of their body parts (Where’s your nose?! Wow!! Ok, your hair?? Amazing!!!) meanwhile peruse menu choosing appetizer and drinks
  3. Provide server your drink, appetizer and chocolate milk order before responding to their introduction to indicate urgency of order.
  4. Continue small talk until pretzel bites or other toddler approved appetizer arrives, is broken up into bite sized pieces, and served.
  5. Enjoy brief conversation with ally while toddler is eating, slam a beer and stuff three pretzel bites into mouth.
  6. Ensure opponent has sufficient supply of pretzel bites since they actually seem to like them, and enjoy and savor every moment that they are a) quietly occupied and b) actually eating.
  7. When opponent is “all done” with appetizer, allow yourself to be fed the remaining drool covered pieces to demonstrate solidarity.
  8. Entree arrives just as this activity ends (the restaurant gods are with you). Deliver half of your french fries to opponent in temporary peace offering.
  9. Don’t let the server leave without your second drink order and asking for the check.
  10. Opponent likes the fries. DEMOLISH YOUR FOOD.
  11. Just as you tuck into the second half of your burger the fries lose their magic.  For some reason the trusty chocolate milk is not a hit tonight. (Curse you restaurant gods!)


**It is critical to save your more powerful weapons of mass distraction for when the food and your funny mom skills fail.**


  1. Engage new library book rotation: brand new books from the library trip earlier in the day provide at least two minutes of distraction per book.  Bring 3.
  2. Opponent tries to stand up in high chair while becoming bored with third book.
  3. The battle intensifies. Quickly offer miniature notebook and three crayons.
  4. Drawing commences, and offering 1-3 crayons at a time proves to fortify this tried and true line of attack.
  5. The check has been sent back with the server, drinks are being finished when opponent breaches the top of the high chair.
  6. Capture opponent before they jump out of high chair, and prepare to deploy hell-fire.
  7. Hell-fire = iPhone, my last resort in almost every situation, and my most successful weapon of mass distraction.
  8. Phone is out, kids app is up (this is my go to, I actually just paid the $3.99 for the deluxe version after using the free version for many months and it was well worth it), and guided access* is engaged.

I don’t know if it’s intentional but Leah is on my lap, waving around a napkin, which I’m going to take as a white flag.  We win.  So apologize to the server and order one more drink, but drink it fast.  There will still be a hustle out to the car and into bed, but it’s been soo worth it.

So there you have it.  I did actually have a brand new sticker book in my bag just in case, but didn’t need it so I saved that surprise attack for next time.

*Guided access is something all iPhone owning parents should know about. It allows your phone to be locked into one app, and you can restrict certain areas of your screen.  To get out of guided access you need to enter your password, so it basically childproofs your phone…here are the instructions on how to set it up.

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