A couple spends a nice meal together without their kids


We Never Take Our Kids Out For Dinner Because We’d Rather Have That Time To Ourselves

Feb 11, 2019

I love my two children in ways I can’t possibly articulate, and I’m so happy I get to be with them. But there’s another thing I love — and that’s eating food without my kids anywhere remotely near me.

The South Indian dive hidden in an industrial park, the fancy cucina that justifies its price for pasta, the gastropub that elevates vegetables into art: I love these places. All these restaurants have a few things in common: richly decadent cuisine, attentive service, interesting drink lists… and not my kids.

My wife and I don’t go out that often, but when we do, it’s always dinner for two while the grandparents babysit. Sure, we take our children out for the occasional burger at lunch, but we’ve reserved out-of-home suppertime as an adults-only thing.

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The little ones are fine with this arrangement. They don’t want to go to the strip-plaza Thai joint with the tamarind-curry tofu stew or the raw vegan place with the macrobiotic pie. Especially at the end of a long day, my kids aren’t keen on sitting patiently in public, waiting for a meal. At home, they can be doing puzzles or drawing or making pillow forts until two seconds before the food appears on their plates. At a restaurant, though, they’re stuck at a strange table, the chairs are uncomfortable, the food is different and it’s all so very boring.

So while they stay at home with family, we get to go out and have dinner that someone else made, and we get to use dishes and cutlery someone else will wash. We’ll be able to have our entire meal while it’s still warm instead of first worrying about our kids having just one more bite.

"Most of our plans and goals for ourselves and our family have begun over the course of a good meal."

Some parents feel pressured to take their kids to restaurants as a way of instilling good manners in them; it’s like there’s some hope constant exposure to dining out will reinforce proper ways to act in public. But here’s the thing — our kids are constantly out in the real world, getting practice at being patient and polite in front of strangers. It happens at walk-in clinic waiting rooms, the amusement park, the grocery store, the library, the mall and on transit. They’ve gotten pretty good at figuring out how they’re expected to behave inside and outside the home. But a long meal in public after a long day? That’s a big ask.

Besides, having only the two of us at dinner also means we can have long, drawn-out conversations that would otherwise be tricky with little ears listening. (It used to be easier around the kitchen table when they couldn’t spell.) My wife and I have had the best talks over a second helping of appetizers or a flight of tiny craft beers — both serious chats and hilariously silly ones. Most of our plans and goals for ourselves and our family have begun over the course of a good meal.

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There’s something about food that brings out a relaxed but focused, intimate but open kind of discussion. It’s not the same kind of talk you’d have sharing a couch in front of the TV or while doing the laundry.

Of course, it’s also about the food itself. Sometimes, you just have a craving for, say, Japanese or Mexican or both. I don’t expect my kids’ palates to be the same as mine. (Honestly, they’re more adventurous than I was at their age.) So on an evening when the adults desire dosas, but going out isn’t a possibility, I’ll grab some take-out for me and my wife, while the kids get something a little more familiar. We’ll all eat together and, amidst slightly more chaos, still have great conversations and a lot of fun.

Still, going out for dinner as a couple is a way for us to remember that before we were moms and dads, we were already partners. Even if we do talk about the kids two-thirds of the time while we’re there and then rush home to see them the second our dessert is cleared.

Article Author Erik Missio
Erik Missio

Read more from Erik here.

Erik Missio used to live in Toronto, have longish hair and write about rock ‘n’ roll. He now lives in the suburbs, has no hair and works in communications. He and his wife are the proud parents of a nine-year-old girl and a five-year-old boy, both of whom are pretty great. He received his MA in journalism from the University of Western Ontario.

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