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A Date for Three

Jaime Tollas

Having a baby sometimes feels like having a lobotomy, but let's be honest, you're still the same person and you still enjoy--and maybe even yearn for--the same things you always did. And my husband and I are normal young(ish) people who, up until the very moment our child was born and our lives changed COMPLETELY, frequented restaurants and bars two to three times a week.   We choose to live in a city, and part of that is because we enjoy being out in the city with other people. And for another thing, when you have a baby, and maybe you both also work or at least one of you does, it's pretty nice to have someone else pour you a cocktail once in a while. 

When LittleMan was born we lived in North Beach in San Francisco, and on the odd Friday or Saturday night in the weeks and first months after his birth, if he’d had a good meal on mom and seemed snoozy, we’d snuggle him into the Ergo and walk around the corner to Sweeties, a dive bar serving up pool and the occasional pizza. In the dim, crowded din, few people even noticed we had a baby with us and we’d sit and have a beer or two in anonymity and catch up like...well, like two people who got married because they really liked hanging out together.

But time passes fast when you’re utterly sleep-deprived, and by the time LittleMan was four months old or so we had a bedtime routine to consider and, on some level, a tiny little personality to manage: squawking and squirming and wanting more Mum-Mums and whatnot. In other words, just when we thought we had a little nightlife system, our child changed the rules on us.

Adapt, adapt, adapt.

First: Shift your timing. Dinner can be stressful, but Happy Hour is mommy’s best friend. Happy Hour occurs before everyone is exhausted. Happy Hour spots tend to be noisy so your baby’s occasional outburst won’t seem so disruptive. You’re done by 6:30 and before you know it, it’s bedtime for bonzo, and everyone feels refreshed in the morning. 

Second: Set yourself up for success. If your baby has missed his nap or been too distracted to eat, maybe it's not the best day to test out his restaurant decorum.

Three: Choose your spots. If you know the servers, you are in business. If you don’t, look for two key items upon arrival: high chairs and children's menus (extra points if you actually see other babies or children). These indicators demonstrate at minimum a tolerance for the under-three set. 

Four: Be prepared. If your baby is into food, bring her dinner along. If your baby is into pacifiers, bring five. If your baby is into being bounced, consider outside seating so you can stand up and move around. If your baby is into sleeping, well, how nice for you.

Now get out there and enjoy it.

Local Knowledge: Downtown San Francisco is surprisingly great for babies! A few of our favorites: Perry's Embarcadero, Gotts in the Ferry Building on a sunny day (soooo many kids), Rogue Brewery in North Beach (sit out back on a nice afternoon), 21st Amendment by the ballpark (brunch and a bloody can't be beat).

Where do you live?  Any gems for moms in your 'hood?  Feel free to share in the Comments section!

Photos: Laura Kudritzki Photography

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