Prince George has his first public engagement booked - and whilst we all know that not a lot can go wrong when you have a super nanny in the wings, what about your social life? After all, the invite has arrived with a satisfying ping into your Inbox, or a soft thud onto your hallway: the posh do that you are just dying to go to is around the corner. You've chosen your frock, booked the hairdresser's - now you just need to handle your adorable offspring on the day.
You may not know when your child will be ready for the wedding, christening or "posh" meal at a restaurant, but start exposing them to formal situations early on, to familiarize them. Whilst our children may not all have the packed court calendar of Prince George, we would like them to be happy joining us at our friend's house for a nice meal, or going out to the local pizzeria.
To help them become at ease in social situations, use the following tips:
1. The Queen is coming to tea. The urban myth that most British people have a dream about the queen coming to tea, can be used to your advantage here. Line up the teddies, put out knives and forks for them all, and ask your child to "help" the teddies with their table manners. By working together, you can help your child teach good table manners both to the teddies and to him or herself.
2. Prepare different courses for your child's meal. Put out plates of raw fruit and veg as a starter for your child, then the main course, followed by cheese or a yogurt for a third course. This way, your child gets familiar with the idea that you may have to wait a little for each course to come to the table. Hopefully your child will also learn to entertain themselves during this time. If you keep some special toys just for mealtimes, your child will look forward to playing with them - at home, or in a restaurant.
3. Invite people to join you for a meal. Eating is a social activity, and encourage this in your child by inviting your friends or theirs' over to your house at mealtimes. Make sure that you join them, even if it's just to have a cup of tea or eat a piece of fruit.
4. Use formal events as a day out for you & your child. Make sure that when you are ready to take your child to that first visit to the office, or to a formal wedding, build in some fun time as part of it. This can be something as simple as bringing a new colouring book for you both to colour, or for you to go to that coffee shop near work that prepares lovely baby 'cinos. In that way, your child associates the day with some enjoyable one on one time with Mum or Dad rather than a boring day with lots of grown ups they didn't know.
5. Be resourceful. Pack a little bag full of fun items for your child to discover at the wedding breakfast, a change of clothes so that you don't stress over the spilt drink, and don't forget that everyday items can be fascinating for pre-schoolers. Look, a napkin that becomes a rabbit! A menu card that folds into an aeroplane!
However you prepare your child for formal or social events, make sure that you all find a way to enjoy yourselves and don't forget that these can be fun and bonding times for you.