Hey parents, I have some advice for you. At meal times, you deserve to sit down and eat. I know that you want everyone – particularly the little kids – to be fed and settled. But you also need sustenance, and it’s not fun to run on empty.
Did you also know that your kid can watch an iPad for ten minutes at a restaurant and not turn into an iPad-addicted robot for the rest of their lives? Really, it’s okay. You will all survive, and better than that, you will all be happy.
Let me take you to a pre-iPad restaurant experience. We were on a beachside holiday, and we were at a local pizza joint. Emmy and Will, who were four and one at the time, were not cooperating, no matter how hard I tried. I did the gentle yet firm talking-through-my-teeth thing that the Duchess of Cambridge does to Prince George at formal events. I brought out pencils and paper. I sang songs. I gave cuddles. Nothing worked.
Will screamed and cried the entire time. After the kids ate maybe three bites between them, and my husband had scarfed down his pizza, he took the kids outside for a walk, but they kept fussing and screaming out there. I could hear and see them from the window. So, after a single bite, I asked for my pizza to be put in a takeaway box, and I left the restaurant while trying not to cry. I didn’t eat that pizza until hours later, when my kids were asleep.
Okay, so clearly, this was not the worst thing to have ever happened in my life. I was on a summer holiday, eating out, and have two beautiful kids – I am privileged. But parenting is not an easy gig. I was sleep deprived, hungry and worn down from days of looking after everyone, and it all combined to make me emotional. It was the slice of pizza that broke the mummy camel’s back.