- Unconsciousness is your friend. If you want to do some shopping straight-forwardly, do it when they’re due a nap and can fall asleep in the pram
- Don’t force it. If the kids are tired or having a bad day, it’ll most-likely be very stressful eating out. (And no-one wants to be the person who snaps and drops the C-bomb in Pizza Express on a Saturday afternoon.)
Do it another time. Or get a babysitter and do it when they’re in bed.
- Swiftly analyse your environment. Jason Bourne walks into a diner, “The first thing I'm doing is I'm catching the sight lines and looking for an exit. I can tell that our waitress is left-handed and the guy sitting up at the counter weighs 220 pounds and knows how to handle himself. I know the best place to look for a gun is the cab of the grey truck outside.”
I walk into any café/bar/restaurant, “The first thing I’m doing is I’m looking for a quiet place to change a nappy or put on a meltdown-calming puppet show. I can tell that our waitress knows where to get crayons and that the group on the next table won’t see the cute side if our daughter wanders over and verbally-freestyles on their physical appearance. I know the best place to look for a chocolate-based distraction is the newsagents next door”
... My holiday hand luggage will contain stickerbooks, a laptop, various Pixar & DreamWorks DVDs and a heady cocktail of crisps, chocolate, Calpol and sweets.
Once you have children, you see the same scene and think more along the lines of “What horrible thing did that mean little f*cking little kid do to push that poor, poor adult over the edge?”