YO MAMA: When dinner for two becomes dinner for three | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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YO MAMA: When dinner for two becomes dinner for three

Image Credit: PEXELS



Our dinner table looks a little different these days thanks to the presence of our 18-month-old toddler.

No more tablecloths (which can be pulled off the table with disastrous results), no more candles, no more vases of flowers. The nice wine glasses are all put away. It’s different than we’re used to, but it works. We have a system to avoid/ minimize stains, accidental falls and broken dinnerware.

That all goes out the window at the restaurant, something I learned during a recent weekend out of town with our toddler.

Like most aspects of daily life, dining out is a completely different experience with a baby in tow. How different? Let me count the ways.

Dinner for two vs. Dinner for three

Getting ready

Dinner for two: Getting ready is a luxurious process. You can start whenever you want, take as long as you want, and no one will interrupt you. You can try on several different outfits, use a curling iron without fear of it being pulled off the counter, and throw everything you need into one small purse.

Dinner for three: You are already running late. There are no clean clothes. Brushing your teeth is the extent of your beauty care regime. You haul a bulging diaper bag to the car while your partner tries to find matching socks and shoes for the kid.

Getting there

Dinner for two: You arrive somewhere between the very acceptable eating hours of 6 pm and 8 pm. Maybe you make a reservation, maybe you don’t. It doesn’t really matter, because you have no set schedule.

Dinner for three: You arrive at the obscenely early hour of 5 pm so you can get out of there by the kid’s bedtime. You aren’t even all that hungry. A sorry-looking high chair is dragged out from some dark and desolate place and awkwardly shoved in beside your table.


Dinner for two: You carefully consider each item on the menu. What are you really craving? When the waiter comes around, you ask about the special, then say you need more time. Why not? You have so much of it.

Dinner for three: You quickly skim the menu (which your toddler is trying to wear as a hat) and are ready to order before the waitress even brings your water. You order kid-friendly foods that can be shared with the small human on your lap.


Dinner for two: You sit back and enjoy a pleasant conversation with your partner over a cocktail. When the conversation naturally comes to a pause, you sit in comfortable silence, just taking in the atmosphere around you, people watching, admiring art on the walls or the street outside the window.

Dinner for three: You are in full Operation Hazard Mitigation mode. Water glasses, knives and forks are pushed to the opposite side of the table. You extract a toy from the diaper bag but your toddler only has eyes for the silverware. You spend most of your time trying to stop him from crawling across the table. Colouring pages and a basket of half-nibbled crayons are delivered to your table. The kid puts them straight in his mouth while you glare at the server.


Dinner for two: The steaming food is placed in front of you and you enjoy inhaling the delicious aromas before digging in. You savour each delicious bite and pause sit back and digest partway through the meal.

Dinner for three: You quickly push all the plates toward the centre of the table, just out of your toddler’s reach. He does not want to sit in the highchair, so instead, you balance him on your lap while attempting to scarf down bites of your food. It’s fun offering him bits of your food and you love watching his facial expressions when he tries new tastes. It isn’t long, however, before he wants to get down and explore. You and your partner take turns walking him around the restaurant while the other person eats. You end up seeing much more of the restaurant than you previously would have (there is now an excuse to peak into the kitchen and watch the chefs at work) and you get to enjoy impromptu conversations with strangers.

Cheque please…

Dinner for two: You order coffee and dessert. It’s such a nice night, why not stay out a little longer? You discuss what to do next. Maybe a movie or a leisurely stroll down the street.

Dinner for three: The table is a train wreck. Bits of food and a mound of soggy napkins from a spilled water glass litter the scene (which you do your best to clean up). You get the rest of your food packed up; maybe you will eat it at home after the kid goes to bed. You compliment each other on moments of heroism — epic spill saves, intercepted reaches for the hot sauce, a successful diaper change in the washroom. You talk about how — even though it was a bit naughty — it was so cool when the kid snatched an ice cube out of the glass and watched in fascination as it melted in his hand, giggling as it dripped and disappeared before his eyes. Or the mind-blowing moment when he learned how to dip his yam fries into aioli. Or how proud you both were when he pushed all the chairs in at the end of the night, like a proper gentleman.

But the best part of dining out with a toddler has to be… no dishes!

— Charlotte Helston gave birth to her first child, a rambunctious little boy, in the spring of 2021. Yo Mama is her weekly reflection on the wild, exhilarating, beautiful, messy, awe-inspiring journey of parenthood.


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