Bringing Back the Kid-Friendly Brunch

Before I was a parent, one of my favorite weekend indulgences was going out for a leisurely late morning brunch. Bacon, hollandaise, mimosas, bed-headed students at the next table reliving the antics of the night before—what’s not to love? Since having kids, many of my former weekend morning rituals have disappeared, but my husband and I still manage to take the family out for the occasional brunch. Like any outing with kids, a successful brunch date has a lot to do with managing expectations. Here are 6 truths about brunching pre- and post-kids.

8a.m. is the new noon
Gone are the days of rolling in for “breakfast” midday. Make the most of those painfully early morning wake-ups and beat the crowds. Hit up popular brunch spots as soon as they open. Or, even better, do as the 20-something after-hours crowd, and head to a 24-hour diner for pancakes at 7a.m. If your preferred brunch spot doesn’t open until late morning, feed the kids breakfast at home and make brunch your second meal of the day.

Highchairs trump four-star reviews
Avoid any buzzy brunch spots still basking in the glow of a great review. Long lines and uptight foodies are the enemy of family brunch bliss. Even if your kids are past highchair stage, keep an eye out for restaurants in your area that keep highchairs and booster seats on hand, a sure sign that children are welcome.

Other exhausted parents are the new hung-over friends
Before kids, a relaxed two-hour brunch was a great time to catch up with friends and ease into a Sunday. After kids, chatting time is limited and often accompanied by a background soundtrack of pressing questions about exactly how Rey learned to use the Force. So don’t plan on any heart-to-hearts over your scrambled eggs. My favorite brunch companions are now the following three: fellow harried parents who know the drill, well-slept friends without kids who enjoy a brief morning foray into kid land, or (best of all) Grandma armed with a stash of picture books.

Mimosas are no longer optional
You may no longer need a hair-of-the-dog cure for the night before, but a little bubbly can make what is likely your big meal out for the weekend feel like an occasion. And after a few sips, you’ll barely notice the hipsters rolling their eyes your way and grumbling about how “this neighborhood used to be cool.”

Coloring books are the new Sunday paper
Leave your newspapers and crosswords at home, but be sure to bring along some quiet kid-friendly activities to bide the time before the food arrives. My go-to is a favorite coloring book and a few washable markers. And these days, with the booming popularity of adult coloring books, your kid will fit in just fine if you’re at a trendy enough spot.

Post-brunch naptime is no longer a guilty pleasure
Nothing beats following a hearty weekend brunch with an afternoon nap. Before kids, this kind of slothful behavior felt unproductive, but if you have preschoolers in tow, the weekend family nap is a glorious and hard-earned necessity.