I began to entitle this “Toddler Wrangling”, then I realized I was using the word toddler for my BABY! (Who IS technically a toddler) I then decided I couldn’t lie and call him a baby so I changed it to “Kid Wrangling”…considering wrangling of the children doesn’t necessarily ever end even after they surpass toddler-hood. But then I realized there are various stages of wrangling kids…so we are going to just talk about “Surviving the Wait” today.
What do you do to wrangle your child? How do you keep the kids in their seats at the restaurant? What tricks and tips do you have to survive a doctor’s office or the oil changer? With four kids under my belt I’ve decided I can shed some light on some of my tricks to surviving these outings with kids both young and old.
We are in a stage with Mr. One right now that allows very little in the way of public appearances. He is literally climbing everything and difficult to keep still. Discipline is pretty difficult at this age since he’s not doing it to be naughty, but to explore his world, learn, grow and become independent. The window of time that this is a problem is only a few months, so I try not to get too frustrated with it and just realize it’ll pass. We steer clear of restaurants that require him to be seated the whole time in this current phase. Distractions and quick food delivery is important at the moment. And lots of patience.
Some tips from me to you:
Lower your expectations. Just know that eating a solid meal while hot is basically impossible until your children move out of the house. Seriously. I promise it doesn’t get much easier the older they get. The issues just get weirder. (Shoes coming off feet, bathroom trips, siblings squabbles, growing girl “issues”, “watch this mom” and so on.) Being able to sit anywhere quietly is just not necessarily within reach anytime soon…sorry but truth hurts.
Do not go out if you don’t feel up to it. PERIOD. If you are feeling anxious, frustrated, or impatient before you leave the house. Just don’t. Nothing is that important. OR if it is that important…continue to read these other tips and just realize you’re already at a disadvantage. Call for backup if you can.
Bring snacks. Food can buy time 99.9% of the time. It may only be a few minutes but it’s time and time is valuable. 30 seconds could make all the difference in waiting for a doctor or for your meal to finally make to the table.
Go to kid-friendly places. Restaurants with games, make your own pizza, coloring sheets, video games, and more are gold. Go to those places. You’ll typically find other families dealing with the same kid issues and you’re in good understanding company.
These grab bags and activity books are so great and are only $1 each! Get a few to keep on hand and hidden away for when you really need them from the Dollar Tree. The kids love them…even my oldest has fun with them while waiting.
Bring toys. Match box cars, dolls, figurines, anything that is fun and familiar can steal you some time and peace.
Bring wipes…ALWAYS have baby wipes…even when your kids are grown. They’re one of the best inventions ever.
Bring forbidden toys! We don’t play with play dough at our house…for obvious reasons. But play dough is totally fine in public places! (I may be a jerk) The kids get super excited about playing with something they’re normally not able to play with and it consumes their attention for quite a while. It’s quite magical.
Books, especially activity books, are gold. Coloring sheets only last so long and the 3 crayons the restaurants give you can hit the floor in .3 seconds from arrival. Bring mini activity kits that are reserved just for restaurant trips or public places you need them to hush. It’s amazing how cool they are.
Have your phone handy. No, we don’t want to teach our kids to close off the world and stare at a device in public. HOWEVER desperate times call for desperate measures. If all else above fails…a phone can provide a video or game to buy you peace for the final minutes of your visit.
A quick trip to the dollar store can always yield some time as well. $5 can buy you 5 distractions…a book, a toy, a snack, a coloring book or even a flashlight or something totally off the wall you’d never expect the kid to want…they’ll want it.
Have an escape plan. Always have a plan you can implement quickly to remove yourself from the situation. Your plan can be to ask waitress for the check immediately upon receiving food as well as boxes. You could prepare by driving two vehicles if you are out as a family and having the option to take the “problem” child home if absolutely necessary.
Don’t stress. No matter what happens, keep your cool. If a meltdown occurs do your best to calmly handle the situation and fix it as best you can. I find myself getting more worked up than my kids when I get frustrated sometimes. This is a constant work in progress for me. Public displays of tantrums or bad attitudes can send the best parents over the proverbial edge. Keep your cool. Focus on what is absolutely necessary and do it. Don’t worry about what others are thinking or saying or if they’re staring you down. Take care of what you need to and don’t worry about that other stuff.