I love eating, especially eating out. Prior to being followed everywhere by three small children (I swear they are stalking me) eating out was a pleasurable experience. My husband and I would have long leisurely meals. We visited most of the fabulous restaurants that Bristol has to offer and thoroughly tested their menus.

My family still eat out regularly. This is how I know I’m an optimistic person, as no matter how horrendous eating out with children in tow is, I still hope that next time it may turn out to be fun. Here is the ultimate guide to how eating out with children , changes your gastronomical experience…..

Choice of restaurant: Pre Children = the sky’s the limit , whatever you fancy. We did Fine Dining, Gastro Pubs, Pan Asian, Sushi, Vegetarian Cafes, you name it we have probably tried it.

Post Children = I wish we were that family, the family whose children will lap up falafel and gobble up dahl, all with impeccable behaviour and yummy noises. Sadly  we are not. One child eats fish but won’t eat anything mixed together on his plate, the other is less fussy but won’t eat fish. Pasta is good but not if there are obviously any kinds of vegetable present in the sauce. So we often find ourselves in (don’t judge me) The Harvester and Pizza Hut, not the kind of food I find myself drooling in anticipation off.

The Ambiance: Pre Children = We would relax over a three course dinner. There would be wine (champagne on anniversaries). We would chat and hold hands. We would banter with the waiter, lovely.

Post Children = First we try to keep the children interested in the inevitable crayons/fun placemat that the restaurant provides. We colour in character vegetables and take part in food related word searches. Then we try to converse with each other, which proves impossible, as the baby is brandishing a knife she has managed to grab off the table and the preschooler is singing very loudly.

All around us fellow diners are stuffing their ears with cotton wool and hastily finishing their meals. Eventually we cave and give our two eldest children our iPhones and red faced deal with the guilt of allowing such an unwholesome activity.

The Eating = Pre Children : feeding each other olives, trying each others choices. Finishing it all off with a shared dessert and two spoons. The eating was like foreplay, sensual and relaxing.

Post Children = Inevitably the children’s food will arrive scorching hot and yours slightly tepid. Meaning that as you hastily blow on your children’s food yours will go stone cold. Then you will grab bites of food in between feeding the baby and cajoling the kids into eating anything other than garlic bread.

The End. Pre Children = You slowly savour a coffee or after dinner liqueur whilst the bill gets paid. Sated and happy with the cost of such an enjoyable meal you meander home to collapse on the sofa.

Post Children = You glare at the waiter as he takes a million years to bring your bill, as your children (who have sat still for longer than is humanly possible) begin to melt down. You reluctantly pay more (as three extra people to feed now occupy your life) for a sub standard, cold hectic dinner. You herd the kids into the car with a collection of restaurant kids tat (which will live in your car untouched for weeks) and drive home to sedate them.