1. do not always plan on actually getting to the restaurant, that would be first and foremost, just so you don't "set yourself up" for let's say.....dinner as a family of four.
2. pack a change of clothes for each child, a different sized diaper for each, snacks for the toddler (you know, for the 15 minutes it takes to get to the restaurant), juice box for the same ride, bottle of breast milk for baby, formula and scoop for extra (just on case she is hungrier than usual), rattle, space in your bag for the shoes that the baby will kick off, and finally remember your purse so that you have your real items like phone, wallet, etc.
3.plan on what you are having before you get there so that the order can be expedited (please don't think that you can actually peruse the menu leisurely). A part of you wants to phone your order in but another part of you wants to feel as though they are truly dining out so they stop you from doing this.
4.when parking the car ask the question "which kid do you want"? and follow suit. How parents of more than two children or a single parent do this....beyond me.
5. if you can sit outside do it, if not, pick a table that has 1. easy access to bathroom, or 2. next to another family of small kiddos.
6. when the server gets to the table, apologize ahead of time, and learn his or her name and smile frequently.
7. all a blur (you think you ate, you think you drank)
8. you rock the car seat, stick in the pacifier, tell toddler to use her fork, blow on her hot food, keep wine glass away from toddler, keep salt and pepper shakers away too, in fact you have given the server the sugar caddy when you first sat down.
9. ask for the check (now it has been confirmed because you are paying for the alleged food/drink).
10. leave restaurant and talk about how it wasn't so bad and look lovingly into your partner's eyes and say "remember the good old days" and the have you partner say "yes...but these good new days aren't so bad".
11. love your partner more than you did when you got there and realize that the kids will be going down to sleep the second they get home and know that you can then actually have a conversation with your partner.
12. blog about it the next day with a big smile and wonder when we'll be going out to dinner as a family of four again :)