Today, Hubby & I met 2 other couples for lunch at Feral Brewery in the Swan Valley. I love the fact that even though it is Winter in Perth the place was busy with people enjoying good food and drink even if it meant co-ordinating a scarf with your outfit. This was one of a few meals out we have been too while Hubby has been home.
The difference between our table and the majority of the other tables today were the addition of kids. Small kids. Three 4 year olds & two babies (and one on the way which doesn't count as they brought their own seat)! A few years ago Before Kids (BK) lunch with friends just meant an impromptu phone call, picking a nice outfit, jumping in the car and spending a leisurely afternoon (and possibly evening) chatting, drinking and eating.
Oh how times have changed.
First you have to organise a date and make sure everyone is free. Especially for us seeing as my Hubby's job involves him flying in and out. So the date is usually set months in advance. God help me if it has to be changed!!
Gone are the days of spending an hour getting ready! I'm lucky if I manage to have a shower without an audience and its long enough to wash my hair (drying it may be optional!). There are 2 other people to get ready, well, 3 if you include Hubby. But luckily, although he can dress himself.
Then there is "The Bag" to pack! "The Bag" has to consist of everything you 'might' need while on the outing. Basics includes, nappies & bottles and other baby stuff for Bugalugs plus a plethora of entertainment items for Grotbag to keep him occupied. Because inevitably if you are at a kid friendly restaurant the kids will be fed first leaving them to be completely bored by the time you receive your meal. Colouring books, ipods and handheld game consoles have become life savers in these times of need. I can never leave Hubby to pack the bag as something is always left out and I end up having to fold origami style nappies out of paper towels!
Once at the restaurant there is a shuffle of seating arrangement to accommodate prams, men and women and kids in between. Hubby hates to be seated in the wrong position making him privy to menstrual cycles, birthing stories, the latest on Masterchef and other such girly topics. Gone are the days of political banter and mixed sex conversations. Time is of the essence and plus, colouring in while talking about Kevin Rudd can be a bit distracting. There is never all the adults at the table at the one time. They are either off supervising the kids on playground equipment or seeing to the younger set of babies.
Food turns up and you eat it as quickly as possible so that you can take the baby off your partner so he can eat his dinner which is getting colder by the minute. Meanwhile ice cream turns up for the kids so you know that the meal is nearly over before you have even looked at your desert menu. Then you look at the time and realise the dreaded 'witching' hour is close at hand and the kids heads are going to start spinning round exorcist style spewing phrases like "I'm tired", "can we go home now", "I don't want to go home" etc etc.
So you say your goodbyes, and say that "you must simply do this more often, why do we leave it so long". Talk about how you should all "go away one weekend with the kids" all while trying to get your kids to say goodbye nicely and not run in front of cars in the car park!
The thing is, I love meeting my friends for lunch out and about with the kids. We all have a great time despite and because of all the things above. Going out for a meal may not be the same as a few short years ago, but I would rather go out and have to be a bit more organised than not go!
How lucky am I that I have the opportunity to go and have lunch with friends? Having to do it differently is not better or worse than before kids, it just takes more organisation and more stuff.
In other words. Your bag just gets heavier!!