Q: Help! We find it almost impossible to finish a restaurant meal when our 18-month-old twins are along, which is always. We give them toys to keep them busy, and they do well for about 30 minutes, after which chaos breaks loose. They begin screaming and throwing things and make it very difficult for us to finish our meal much less enjoy conversation with other adults. Its very embarrassing and I generally end up leaving the restaurant with them.
Let me pose a thought problem to you: You have an adult friend who is generally very personable but has a habit of becoming disruptive in crowded public spaces. He invariably begins a loud argument that rapidly deteriorates into screaming and throwing whatever objects are handy. Would you invite him to join you for dinner in a restaurant?
No, you would not. You would not want to be associated with this individuals outbursts, and you would not want to subject other patrons to them either. That is nothing more than common sense, and the very same common sense applies to this situation with your 18-month-old twins.
Its one thing to invite other adults to your home for dinner. In that event, feed your twins before your guests arrive, then do your best to keep them occupied while you entertain. Better yet, have your guests arrive after youve fed, bathed, and put your twins to bed. If only for the parents sake, this age child should be in bed by 7 oclock anyway, and the common sense of that policy is doubled with twins. It is axiomatic that the later one lets young children stay up, the more wound up they get, and the more difficult it is to get them into their beds and off to sleep.
If youre going out to a restaurant with other adults, do yourselves, your friends, and other patrons a huge courtesy and hire a sitter. Your friends may smile through the chaos, but theyre just trying to be as polite as possible.
All of this leads me to another issue, which is the apparent reluctance of todays parents to obtain baby sitters. Ive concluded that this rather inconvenient practice is driven by one part fear, one part the need, on the part of the mother, to live up to the new Good Mommy standard, and one part lack of responsible teens who are willing to baby-sit. The latter is simple to deal with: If you cant find a sitter, then dont go out.