A Guide to Going to the Bar with Your Baby: Yes, You Can
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Few things are worse than trying to enjoy a drink at your local hangout and being interrupted by a child having a full-scale meltdown because their mom or dad is attempting to reconnect with their misspent youth. Especially if you are that screaming child’s parent.
But wait: This is not another article about the sacrifices of parenthood, or about how having a child is a joyous life-changing experience, or about how everyone within earshot should just learn to tolerate those tantrum-throwing toddlers.
If you are a new parent, ensuring your new baby-filled life has some kind of semblance to your old non-baby-filled one is imperative to enjoying the ride. And contrary to popular belief, procreating doesn’t have to mean an end to catching up with non-parent friends or sounding the death knell on knowing the cool go-to spots.
Merely a slight modification.
As a parent of a toddler, I’ve navigated these murky waters and come up with five rules to ensure that my—and your—rockin’ good time doesn’t come at the expense of everyone else in the bar.
① Location, location, location.
You want to be able to socialize and relax a little, and some bars and restaurants are more suitable for kids than others. Those that list outdoor spaces and earlier opening times are all good indicators. When in doubt, give them a call. Unlike unmarked speakeasies that open at 10 p.m., child-friendly spaces tend to a) have phones and b) answer them.
② Don’t overstay your welcome.
Parents are adept at maximizing their time, and being at a bar is the opportunity to make this new talent shine. Absorb as much atmosphere and friend-time as you can, because let’s be real: You and your kid are a cute novelty, and somewhere between one and two hours, that novelty will begin to wear off.
③ Don’t get drunk.
No, seriously, just don’t. This is something I could have learned at an earlier junction: You don’t have to get drunk at a bar! It’s a slippery slope from a casual drink to irresponsible parent, and no one wants that. If you’re sticking to rule number two, you won’t have time to anyway.
④ Be prepared—for everything.
The aim here is for you to have fun and enjoy your social excursion. Wherever you fall on the parent spectrum, you know it’s essential to keep the essentials within reach at all times. Your kit should contain enough supplies to keep the wails at bay; that arsenal includes, but is not limited to, diapers, wipes, snacks, drink and distractions.
⑤ Be home by 7.
After dark, even the brightest, friendliest bars change from cool, casual hangouts to the Tinder make-out dens of the underworld. These types of places are not appropriate for children. Even if you break all the other rules, you can redeem yourself by making it home by story time.
Finally, a note on strollers. When moving in packs, strollers are a hazard. When it comes to bars and babies, the discrete, stealthy and surprisingly comfortable baby carrier is your secret weapon. If you are blessed with a baby who’s happy in one, put it on, strap ‘em in and let the countdown to 7 p.m. begin.
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