How to eat out with a Baby

It used to be your favourite thing to do (well, one of your favourites at least) but now the mere mention of it sends shivers down your spine.

No, I’m not talking about going to see the latest Batman movie (who says I’m not topical?) – this is my Guide to Eating Out with a Baby.

Trust me, this will change your life *.

*It probably won’t.

There comes a time in every parent’s life when sitting in your nappy-scented home, for hour after hour, cleaning up sick, sterilizing bottles and watching Judge Rinder, is no longer is the fun it once was. It’s at this point that the idea of taking your child to eat in a restaurant first crosses your mind.

Yet you’re reticent, with good reason.

What will the baby do?

Will it scream?

Will it do an explosive poo?

Will it do both?

Will it stare (like a miniature psychopath) at a frail old lady – putting her off her soup?

And then there’s the other diners to think of…

Will they be friendly?

Will they glare?

Will they complain to the management because of the noise?

Will they form a mob to have you ejected?

All of this potential stress is often enough to stop parents from leaving the confines of their homes. Don’t let this happen to you!

Here’s my advice on how to Eat Out with a Baby.

1: Don’t be an arsehole

The arrival of a baby in a restaurant is never EVER EVER going to make its parents popular. We’ve all been there. You go out for a quiet meal, perhaps in the hope of it going so well that you skip dessert, and next thing you know a family who look like they’d struggle to fill out a Jeremy Kyle Show application form arrives at the next table with their screaming feral offspring. Your meal is ruined – you eat quickly and call for the bill. The family on the next table, however, are having a great time.

Don’t be that family. 

A little consideration for your fellow diners goes a long way. It’ll make your meal a lot more pleasant to know everyone else in the room isn’t hating your guts.

2: Don’t be too nice

Trying to be considerate to other diners is all very well – but don’t be crippled by it. Children make noise, it’s as simple as that. As long as you appear to be making attempts to minimize the chaos you’re doing your job. You’re not going to have a silent meal, it’s impossible. Don’t let your baby making normal baby sounds ruin your meal. You need a break too.

3: Be prepared

If you’re properly prepared then the whole ‘eating out’ experience will be infinitely easier. That said, for many new parents, leaving the house wearing two matching shoes can be a struggle, so let’s not set our sights too high here!

It’s totally possible to get through a meal with ease, by timing it to coincide with your baby’s naptime. Bring essentials like milk and their favourite toys to ease any transition periods. That said, even the most prepared person in the world might find themselves in a restaurant with a baby who suddenly refuses to play ball.

4: Lower your standards

Do you like eating out at nice restaurants? Sorry, but those days are over. From now on you’ll be dining in places that have ‘Happy’, ‘Big’ & ‘Wacky’ in their titles. The food is undeniably crap, the tables are sticky and there’s a constant whiff of vomit, but you’ll feel so much more relaxed in these places. Why? Well, for one thing, there’ll always be another kid doing exactly what you were dreading. So, if your child does melt down, it’s unlikely anyone will notice.

NB: A bit of advice, never eat from a buffet bar in one of these establishments. They are are at the perfect height for little (snotty) hands to reach and play with the food – before putting in back.

5: Go Early

Visiting a restaurant during peak times will put you in line for a whole heap of pain. Late food, loud customers, stroppy staff and over-crowded eating areas are no fun with a baby.

Perhaps consider going for your meal early or late? Dinner at 2 am is sure to leave you with the place to yourself. If this is too extreme find out when an establishment starts serving food and be there on the dot. A Sunday Roast at 1030 am may seem weird, but it’s far a more relaxed than eating it at 1 pm like everyone else.

6: Be ready with comebacks

Having a few witty retorts to use with the inevitable malcontents you’ll experience will make your trip much easier. When you find Clive and Norma moaning about the noise you’re making, glaring from behind their copies of The Mail On Sunday, be sure to respond appropriately. Loudly shouting phrases such as: “He may be still infectious, I’m not sure!” and “I’ll take him outside to change his nappy on the bonnet of that Lexus” will leave you feeling far more relaxed.

7: Other options

Perhaps, if you feel going out to eat with your baby is just too much stress, you could make a meal at home feel like you’re in a restaurant. Consider inviting some strangers into your home to glare in your direction, as you eat cold, substandard food. In many ways, with a bit of effort, eating in can be just as much ‘fun’ as eating out.

***

If you have any advice on Eating Out With a Baby, keep it to yourself. Nobody likes a know-it-all!

The Out Of Depth Dad

Facebook.com/OutofDepthDad

@Outofdepth_dad

5 things every SAHD is sick of hearing!

Oh dear! The world, it would seem, isn’t quite ready for the concept of stay at home dads.

Many people I’ve met are totally shocked by the concept; holding the notion in the type of contempt usually reserved for door-to-door sales people and those who’ve decided to give up deodorant.

As a SAHD, I’m beginning to feel like a Betamax owner in a VHS world – ask your mum. To be fair, I do try to be quite ‘zen’ about the stupidity I encounter daily from members of the public. But there’s only so much idiocy one man can take…

Here’s 5 things EVERY SAHD is SICK of hearing…

1: “Are you Babysitting today?” 

Deep breath. Count to 10… Or maybe 100. Think of a pebble in a stream…

Ladies and gents, it’s not ‘Babysitting’… it’s PARENTING!!!

Why do people, when they see a man pushing a pram, assume he’s engaged in childcare at the same level of proficiency as the 16-year-old neighbour who occasionally comes round to sit in your front room (while the kids are asleep upstairs) so you can nip out for a curry with your other half?

‘Parenting’ is a demanding, committed and important activity.

‘Babysitting’ is being paid to watch ‘Take Me Out’ and eat Pringles.

OH AND, FOR THE RECORD, YOU DO NOT ‘BABYSIT’ YOUR OWN KIDS. 

For those of you who think I’m being extreme, why not think of it this way: next time you pass a building site, why not find the fore(person) – busily at work – and ask: “Are you doing a bit of DIY?” See what reaction you get.

2: “Taking the EASY option, are you?”

I’ve genuinely had people say this to me.

The presumption is that being a SAHD is the equivalent of being a minor member of the royal family or working in PR – in that it’s easy, merely a case of showing up and looking the part.

There is nothing, and I mean NOTHING, even remotely easy about looking after a child.

Childcare is nowhere near easy, it’s not even within a commutable distance of ‘easy’. Juggling chainsaws while attempting to train sheep to play the clarinet is ‘easy’ compared to parenting.

To say anything else is to show you have no idea what you’re talking about. I didn’t decide to become a SAHD in order to take it easy. I became a SAHD because it was (holistically) the best option for my family.

3: “Do you change nappies?”

Nappies?

What are they? (For our American cousins, ‘nappies’ are diapers.)

No, I don’t change nappies. I just let them become fuller and fuller until either

i) They explode

ii) I persuade a passing woman to do it for me.

Of course I change nappies.

How else can you look after a child without doing this simple task? I’ve changed thousands and it hasn’t turned me into a female yet.

Seriously people, how on earth has our society get this far while allowing it to be a common belief that men shouldn’t need to deal with baby poo? Men will proudly announce to me: “I had seven children, never changed a nappy in my life.” As if this is something to proud of. Pathetic. 

4: “You’re brave!*”

This is a surprisingly common (unwanted) commentary on my position. If nothing else, it shows a common misunderstanding of the notion of bravery. For me being brave is taking on a risk or discomfort that you didn’t cause or anticipate in order to put the needs of others first. The arrival of my son wasn’t a surprise to me, in fact I was very much part of his inception. Looking after my child is a VERY ordinary task – or at least it should be. So why am I considered brave? Is it because I appear happy to be involved in activities traditionally synonymous with women? Or is it that I’m willing to demonstrate in public that I’m prepared to parent my own child?

Parenting requires no bravery. There are brave parents out there, but that’s a different matter. Doing a basic duty to your offspring, no matter what your gender is, should be seen as run-of-the-mill.

I long for the day when this is the case.

5: “Oh…”

I get a lot of this. A funereal ‘Oh…’ The type of response that in other circumstances would be followed by: “I’m so sorry for your loss” or “He was never right for you.”

Essentially, people respond to my saying that I’m a SAHD with the same type of tone you’d give if on receipt of bad news. The assumption is that some kind of perfect storm of life has occurred leaving me in the utterly undesirable position of providing childcare. As a litmus test, I listened in on some female friends telling others they currently full time carers to their young children. In these cases smiles and congratulations are given.

Yet I get “Oh…” as if I’ve just announced to the neighbours I’m trading in the house cat for a tiger. People look concerned, then worried and then make excuses to get away.

***

So there are my 5. Some may think I’m being oversensitive. They’re entitled to their opinion.

Perhaps I am?

What I do know is that as our government pushes to make shared parental leave a ‘thing’, men won’t take up the role in any great numbers until real change to the way SAHD’s are viewed (finally) happens.

The Out Of Depth Dad

InstagramFacebook and Twitter.

Nobody mentions the ‘Poo Face’…

If you were so inclined, you could spend the entire 9 months between conception and birth reading book after book, each of which ‘guarantees’ to give you the authoritative and complete lowdown on the whole baby ‘experience’.

They are, I am sure, a positive thing – I’m not a fan of these manuals myself, but that’s just personal preference; I think there’s a point where preparation can teeter into obsession. That said, there’s a topic that none of these baby books devotes so much as a word to:

THE ‘POO FACE’

We all have a ‘Poo Face’.

Sorry, but it’s true; it’s the face we pull when we poo.

The thing is, before we become parents, most of us never see a ‘Poo Face’ in our day to to day lives.

Why?

In our society defecation is a solitary activity, so we don’t get to see others pulling their poo faces, and since we don’t, generally, poo in front of a mirror (if you do, you’re a bit weird) we don’t get to see our own either!

Essentially, we’re not familiar with ‘Poo Faces’ at all.

Where am I going with this?

Simply that parents are prepared for all aspects of life with their little one when it arrives, except for how to react to the ‘Poo Face’.

You’ll be eating dinner, with your extended family, making quiet conversation and agreeing that the baby does indeed look a lot like Great Uncle Arnold when suddenly, in your midst, you’ve got a gurning ‘Poo Face’ that would make Les Dawson proud.

What do you do?

What is the etiquette around the ‘Poo Face’?

Do you ignore it and carry on chatting?

Do you draw attention to it and turn the tide of conversation towards the uniformity of your child’s bowel movements?

Or do you laugh at it?

I must admit I fall into the latter category

I just can’t believe that our society, so heavy in its emphasis upon the hard work parents must endure, doesn’t say to prospective mums and dads:

“It’s all bloody hard work, but don’t worry you’ve still got the ‘Poo Faces’ to look forward to. They’re like a mini oasis of comedy dropping into the drudgery of parenting each and every day.”

OK, so some will say I’m puerile.

Perhaps I am. I do enjoy watching YouTube clips of people falling over – I’m not proud.

But I’m also proud of the laughter generated by the ‘Poo Faces’ I’ve experienced since becoming a dad!

It just surprises me that I’m the only one!

The Out Of Depth Dad

Instagram, Twitter & Facebook 

 

5 Things EVERY Stay At Home Dad is SICK of hearing

Oh dear! The world, it would seem, isn’t quite ready for the concept of stay at home dads.

Many people I’ve met are totally shocked by the concept; holding the notion in the type of contempt usually reserved for door-to-door sales people and those who’ve decided to give up deodorant.

As a SAHD, I’m beginning to feel like a Betamax owner in a VHS world – ask your mum. To be fair, I do try to be quite ‘zen’ about the stupidity I encounter daily from members of the public. But there’s only so much idiocy one man can take…

Here’s 5 things EVERY SAHD is SICK of hearing…

1: “Are you Babysitting today?” 

Deep breath. Count to 10… Or maybe 100. Think of a pebble in a stream…

Ladies and gents, it’s not ‘Babysitting’… it’s PARENTING!!!

Why do people, when they see a man pushing a pram, assume he’s engaged in childcare at the same level of proficiency as the 16-year-old neighbour who occasionally comes round to sit in your front room (while the kids are asleep upstairs) so you can nip out for a curry with your other half?

‘Parenting’ is a demanding, committed and important activity.

‘Babysitting’ is being paid to watch ‘Take Me Out’ and eat Pringles.

OH AND, FOR THE RECORD, YOU DO NOT ‘BABYSIT’ YOUR OWN KIDS. 

For those of you who think I’m being extreme, why not think of it this way: next time you pass a building site, why not find the fore(person) – busily at work – and ask: “Are you doing a bit of DIY?” See what reaction you get.

2: “Taking the EASY option, are you?”

I’ve genuinely had people say this to me.

The presumption is that being a SAHD is the equivalent of being a minor member of the royal family or working in PR – in that it’s easy, merely a case of showing up and looking the part.

There is nothing, and I mean NOTHING, even remotely easy about looking after a child.

Childcare is nowhere near easy, it’s not even within a commutable distance of ‘easy’. Juggling chainsaws while attempting to train sheep to play the clarinet is ‘easy’ compared to parenting.

To say anything else is to show you have no idea what you’re talking about. I didn’t decide to become a SAHD in order to take it easy. I became a SAHD because it was (holistically) the best option for my family.

3: “Do you change nappies?”

Nappies?

What are they? (For our American cousins, ‘nappies’ are diapers.)

No, I don’t change nappies. I just let them become fuller and fuller until either

i) They explode

ii) I persuade a passing woman to do it for me.

Of course I change nappies.

How else can you look after a child without doing this simple task? I’ve changed thousands and it hasn’t turned me into a female yet.

Seriously people, how on earth has our society get this far while allowing it to be a common belief that men shouldn’t need to deal with baby poo? Men will proudly announce to me: “I had seven children, never changed a nappy in my life.” As if this is something to proud of. Pathetic. 

4: “You’re brave!*”

This is a surprisingly common (unwanted) commentary on my position. If nothing else, it shows a common misunderstanding of the notion of bravery. For me being brave is taking on a risk or discomfort that you didn’t cause or anticipate in order to put the needs of others first. The arrival of my son wasn’t a surprise to me, in fact I was very much part of his inception. Looking after my child is a VERY ordinary task – or at least it should be. So why am I considered brave? Is it because I appear happy to be involved in activities traditionally synonymous with women? Or is it that I’m willing to demonstrate in public that I’m prepared to parent my own child?

Parenting requires no bravery. There are brave parents out there, but that’s a different matter. Doing a basic duty to your offspring, no matter what your gender is, should be seen as run-of-the-mill.

I long for the day when this is the case.

*BTW the last person to say this to me was wearing a baseball cap that made him look an utter twat. If one of us was displaying bravery, it wasn’t me.

5: “Oh…”

I get a lot of this. A funereal ‘Oh…’ The type of response that in other circumstances would be followed by: “I’m so sorry for your loss” or “He was never right for you.”

Essentially, people respond to my saying that I’m a SAHD with the same type of tone you’d give if on receipt of bad news. The assumption is that some kind of perfect storm of life has occurred leaving me in the utterly undesirable position of providing childcare. As a litmus test, I listened in on some female friends telling others they currently full time carers to their young children. In these cases smiles and congratulations are given.

Yet I get “Oh…” as if I’ve just announced to the neighbours I’m trading in the house cat for a tiger. People look concerned, then worried and then make excuses to get away.

***

So there are my 5. Some may think I’m being oversensitive. They’re entitled to their opinion.

Perhaps I am?

What I do know is that as our government pushes to make shared parental leave a ‘thing’, men won’t take up the role in any great numbers until real change to the way SAHD’s are viewed (finally) happens.

The Out Of Depth Dad

InstagramFacebook and Twitter.

 

Specs, Hugs and Bacon Rolls: The anatomy of a dad’s birthday

Suddenly the lights go out, causing a frisson of excitement to run through the air and down your spine. Next, by pure magic, a flame flickers into existence. This spark warmly illuminates the faces of a gaggle of friends and family, whose grins are only bettered by your own. Then, just as suddenly, the drone of ‘Happy Birthday to you…” begins, but nobody cares about the singing. Why? Because we’re all imagining how good the cake will taste.

That’s how it used to be, every year (like clockwork) your birthday would come around and for 24 hours you’d be at the centre of everyone’s attention. A little moment in the spotlight.

As a kid, birthdays were everything. They were better than Christmas mainly because you didn’t have to share top billing with anyone – the stuff of dreams. I remember looking to my parents, confused to see that they didn’t share this enthusiasm for their own birthdays. Why wasn’t it something they lived for? Why didn’t they count down the days, for months, eager to breath that unique birthday air?

Today, as a parent myself, the mystery has been solved.

Suddenly a cry rings out, causing a shudder of tiredness to run up your spine and take root in the bags under your eyes. Next, probably by magic, your feet find the floor and you question y our existence. The door opens and a night light illuminates the face of a crying toddler, you smile broadly – pushing back your own desire to cry. Then, tot in arms, you collapse into the chair and break into a droning “Incy Wincy Spider…” as you look at the clock. It’s 3 am. But the tot doesn’t care about the time. Why? You get your answer as the full flavour of the nappy he’s just filled wafts towards you. Happy Birthday.

From the moment a baby arrives, birthdays (for the dads in the family) change forever.

Here’s my Out of Depth Dad guide to what to expect from every 365th day of your life:

  • Lots of hugs When you’re a daddy, hugs from your little ones become the new currency. So expect a lot of them on your birthday. Unlike some of the presents you may have been used to in the past, hugs don’t make you look smart or get you drunk. They do, however, have the ‘lovely’ effect of leaving little snot stains on your clothes.
  • It’s another day It’s important to remember that, although it’s your birthday, the machine needs to keep on working. It can’t stop. Washing needs to be done, food needs be cooks, nappies need to be changed and kids need to be occupied. You don’t get a day off for good behaviour. Your tots aren’t a little bit easier to deal with because it’s your birthday. In fact, there’s a high likelihood that they’ll be more demanding than usual. Coughs, colds, the bubonic plague, your birthday is likely to be the day your young ‘un gets them. That’s life.
  • Hang up the hangover Alcohol, for many of us, is a hugely important part of birthday celebrations. This may be something you’d like to reconsider now there’s a tot (or two) on the scene. As enjoyable as a few bevvies with your mates down the pub (assuming you have time to go) – they will never be worth the utter nightmare that is dealing with a toddler when you have a hangover. If there is a Hell, I’m certain a special corner of it will be filled with hungover residents trying to placate irate two-year-olds with Postman Pat videos.
  • Cake is for kids When you’re a dad, the concept of ‘your’ changes. Let me put this more clearly. Items may well be tagged with the word ‘Daddy’s’ in order to give them a title (‘Daddy’s Phone’, ‘Daddy’s Shoes’, ‘Daddy’s Coat’) but the name isn’t entirely correct. All of these items do belong to daddy, unless the tot wants them. The same goes for cake – birthday or otherwise. Notionally it’s ‘Daddy’s Cake’, however unveiling the cake is a show put on for the tot, who will (no doubt) maul it with grubby hands.
  • Moving from presents to gifts Presents are something we all like to receive, of that’s there’s no doubt. There comes a’ time, however, when receiving the latest stereo, DVD or He-Man action figure no longer holds the thrill it once did (Or perhaps we’re no allowed to admit to this). So ‘presents’ disappear and are replaced by ‘gifts’. Ties, socks and shirts become the perfect ‘Daddy’ gifts. This movement from ‘presents’ to ‘gifts’ can be seen in the following way: if you undo the wrapping paper, then excitedly open a box shouting ‘Wow!’, it’s a present. If you lay it flat, saying ‘That’s lovely, it’ll go with TBC”, it’s a gift.
  • Specs appeal Each birthday, as you rummage through your card(s), the increased need for spectacles (to the read the messages written within) underlines the aging process. The addition of the word ‘Daddy’ makes you at least a decade older than your actual age implies. If you can’t find your specs to look at the cards you’ve truly aged. If you can’t see the cards, even with the specs on, you either need a new prescription or new friends.
  • Gorging on bacon rolls As the years go by, the need to mark your birthday with something selfish and unhealthy increases – it’s an important counterpoint to your life as a skivvy throughout the rest of the year. In the past cream cakes and import lager were the naughty treats of choice. These days a bacon roll (or a similarly cholesterol loaded food) is favourite. Greasy morsels, often eaten the day after your birthday, these breakfast indulgences are perfect to counteract the hangover you were far too responsible to get.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ONE AND ALL!

The Out Of Depth Dad