Feeling frustrated by the fact that once you have kids, maintaining a social life becomes just that little bit (okay, a lot) harder? Never fear though, it can be done! Here’s a guide on how to dine out with your friends and all of your children in 37 easy steps:

1. Locate a table in an area where disturbance to other guests at your chosen pub/café/restaurant will be minimised. Your intentions are honourable. You are not a group of those parents.

2. Set up your various children in a formation least likely to cause drama. This involves making sure Ben and Francis are separated, Lucy and Remy are sitting next to one another and the youngest child is at arm’s length so you can act quickly when they start throwing the bread rolls.

3. Change formation after 3.5 minutes when drama ensues anyway.

4. Look at the kids’ menu and spend a good quarter of an hour determining who wants spaghetti bolognese, who wants nuggets and chips (everyone) and to clarify that ice cream is not, in fact, a dinner food.

5. When the waiter comes over for your orders, realise that you forgot to look at the adults’ menu and end up quickly choosing something you didn’t actually want.

6. Run after your child who has escaped from their seat and bolted

7. Carry them back kicking and screaming and remind them to use their inside voice or “we’ll have to go home.”

8. Rejoin table mid-way through a conversation you’re now completely unable to follow.

9. Pick up dummy/matchbox car/shoe from wherever it’s been sent flying.

10. Repeat this step when, after item is returned to child, it’s promptly sent flying again with maniacal laughter. This time do not return item to child.

11. Begin a conversation and be interrupted, mid retelling of hilarious anecdote, by a request for a drink.

12. Attempt to resume previous conversation having completely forgotten what you were talking about.

13. Bribe increasingly unruly children with various electronic devices.

14. Referee arguments over the allocation of the aforementioned electronic devices and their associated apps.

15. Manage meltdown induced by someone stealing one of your child’s chips (that they weren’t eating anyway).

16. Disappear underneath the table to coax child back out.

17. Bump head on the table.

18. Swear.

19 Explain to giggling children why “we don’t use that word.”

20. Cast apologetic glances at nearby patrons.

21. Laugh with your friends about how “next time we’ll definitely leave the kids with babysitters.”

22. Laugh again about how you always say this but next time you SO will.

23. Reminisce briefly about the simplicity of your social lives pre-children.

24. Reinforce how much you LOVE your kids though.

25. Repeat point 9 with a different item and child (not necessarily your own).

26. Order another wine because your glass seems to have drained itself.

27. Wonder where the adult meals are because the kids have finished theirs and look like they’re plotting something sinister at the other end of the table.

28. Start eating your meal and be interrupted by a child needing to go to the toilet.

29. Argue with your spouse over whose turn it is to do the bathroom run. (Theirs.)

30. Feel briefly smug/relieved when another parent’s child goes into Massive Meltdown Mode.

31. Feel decidedly less so when yours joins in shortly after.

32. Repeat point 20.

33. Panic as various electronic devices start going flat.

34. Inhale meal, not tasting any of it. Leave it half-eaten but drain every last drop of wine.

35. Grab shoes, toys, bags and make a mass evacuation, muttering about how your increasingly feral child (or children) is “just tired.”

36. Be sure to avoid all eye contact with any nearby patrons as you leave.

37. See point 21.

Success!

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