Going Out to Dinner: Before and After Toddlers

What used to be a relaxing way to unwind has now become an hour of cutting up food, cleaning up messes, and being interrupted 374 times. But it’s OK. What toddlers lack in manners they make up for in adorableness. Here are nine ways going out to dinner is different once you have a toddler. Bon appetit!

Going Out to Dinner Before Toddlers

You casually peruse the menu while chatting with your dinner companion, and you don’t even notice that the waiter hasn’t come over to your table for 20 minutes. What’s the rush?

Going Out to Dinner Now

You politely flag the waiter over to your table two minutes after sitting because your child is hungry NOW.

Going Out to Dinner Before Toddlers

You always BYOB if it’s an option.

Dinner Now

You always BYOSC (bring your own sippy cup). Because a cup without a top is a cup that will be spilled.

 

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Positive Reinforcement: 9 Things You Shouldn’t Say to Your Child

I was trying to do two things at once—cook (in the kitchen) while deciphering some paperwork (in the next room). I’d been interrupted a thousand times with requests for snacks, shrieks over spilled paint water, questions about what squirrels like to eat, and arguments over whether clouds could be blue and flowers could be green. And did I mention that a ruptured disk in my back was throbbing even worse than my head?

Still, nothing can excuse my behavior that afternoon.

I erupted like Mount Momsuvius: “Enough! Get out! Stop bothering me!” The look on my daughters’ faces said it all. The 2-year-old’s eyes widened. The 4-year-old furrowed her brow and jabbed her thumb between her lips. Immediately I wished I could stuff the hot-lava words back into my mouth. They certainly hadn’t come from my heart, or my brain.

We all say the wrong thing sometimes, leaving our kids feeling hurt, angry or confused. Read on for some of the most common verbal missteps moms and dads make, and kinder, gentler alternatives.

“Leave Me Alone!”

A parent who doesn’t crave an occasional break is a saint, a martyr or someone who’s so overdue for some time alone she’s forgotten the benefits of recharging. Trouble is, when you routinely tell your kids, “Don’t bother me” or “I’m busy,” they internalize that message, says Suzette Haden Elgin, Ph.D., founder of the Ozark Center for Language Studies, in Huntsville, Arkansas. “They begin to think there’s no point in talking to you because you’re always brushing them off.” If you set up that pattern when your children are small, then they may be less likely to tell you things as they get older.

From infancy, kids should get in the habit of seeing their parents take time for themselves. Use pressure-release valves—whether signing up with a babysitting co-op, trading off childcare with your partner or a friend or even parking your child in front of a video so that you can have half an hour to relax and regroup.

At those times when you’re preoccupied (or overstressed, as I was when I exploded at my girls), set up some parameters in advance. I might have said, “Mom has to finish this one thing, so I need you to paint quietly for a few minutes. When I’m done, we’ll go outside.”

Just be realistic. A toddler and a preschooler aren’t likely to amuse themselves for a whole hour.

 

 

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Reasons Why Being The Middle Child is Awesome

Sure, we’ve all heard of “middle-child syndrome” and how hard it can be for middle kids to find their niche in the family when they’re sandwiched between the over-achieving first born and the over-babied baby. But it’s Middle Child Day, and even though middle children do have it rough, we’re celebrating some of the perks that come with the middle child territory (the frosting between the Oreo cookies of siblings, if you will):

1. You are born into an all-kids world.

When your oldest sibling was born, he lived in an adult-furnished house with adult talk and adult dinner parties. There was glassware, china and wine still living in cabinets less than three feet off the floor. Middle child, you didn’t have to deal with any of that crap. By the time you came out, the kitchen was all brightly colored plasticware; the wine cabinets had already been converted to toddler shoe cubbies; and the TV was already comfortable in its constant stream of “Bubble Guppies.” “This is a kid’s house!” your older sibling proclaimed until your parents finally got the point. Yes, it is. And now every square inch is covered in toys, and you go to kids’ birthday parties every weekend—as it should be.

2. Your parents made all their mistakes on the first kid.

Seriously. You don’t have to worry about your mom trying the cry-it-out method…then caving…then cosleeping, until you kick her out of her own bed and take over said comfy California king for all of eternity. No, middle child, all of that’s already been established before you. You get the spoils, and you didn’t have to go into battle. Get it? Yes, it’s awesome.

3. You don’t have to care.

No one cares about your opinion, and that’s awesome. When the grandparents come to visit, they’re there to see all of you (you and the other siblings). And, unlike first child’s babyhood, you will never have to deal with four adults staring at you, making goo-goo eyes and asking what you want for lunch. Nope, you’ll be totally content to wipe stray applesauce dollops from younger sibling’s tray before moving on to scavenge for peanut butter and jelly leftovers on older sibling’s plate. You told the adults earlier that you wanted turkey and cheese for lunch, but nobody heard you. And you don’t even care.

4. You are always part of a group.

Yep, you’re always surrounded by others. It really comes in handy when you did something naughty, because chances are, mom will never be able to figure out whose little paws decided to finger-paint the bathtub with her hot pink nail polish or unload that brand-new, family-size bag of Cheerios on the kitchen floor. You and your siblings are a gang that can’t be separated, like a pride of lions or a pack of wild hyenas, depending on the situation.

Read more here!