James Corden on going out to eat with 3 kids under 7: it’s just a nightmare


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Late night talk show host James Corden is father to three kids, ranging in age from six and a half months to seven years. Although he says his wife Julia Carey, is a great mother and he loves being a dad, he admits not everything with children is easy. As a matter of fact, some formerly enjoyable routines have become downright arduous. Like dining out. James calls process of preparing and going to a restaurant with his kids “a nightmare.”

James Corden is a dad, a television host and an accomplished actor and singer who can belt it out and drive at the same time, but there’s one task he has yet to master: taking his family out to eat.

In a new interview with PEOPLE Editor-in-Chief Jess Cagle, the father of three — he and wife Julia Carey share daughters Charlotte, 6 months, and Carey, 3½, plus son Max, 7 — admits going to a restaurant with his entire brood is usually “not worth” all the hassle.

“It’s just a nightmare. I got back from Liverpool on Sunday, and we thought, ‘Let’s take the kids out. Let’s go for lunch.’ I mean, it’s a joke,” says Corden, 39. “We actually went to a place at the end of our road for lunch, and we looked like we were fleeing the country. We had that much stuff. It’s absurd.”

“I understand, now, why my parents just used to not do anything with us on the weekend, ’cause it’s too much hassle,” adds the star. “The bags and the stroller, and the baby here and there’s wipes everywhere, and Sudocrem, and she’s got a sore bum.”

“You’re asking for the check before you’ve sat down,” explains Corden. “You’re just shoveling pasta and butter into one of their mouths as you’re trying to eat yours. You have to leave a huge tip, because the place is covered in crayons. And it’s just not worth it.”

[From People]

My gawd, but this is so true. For me, it was only slightly better at home but that’s because I gave up and allowed my children to act out at the table simply so I could sit down for a minute. I’m sure many of you mastered the art of dining with children but I co-sign everything James said from the ridiculous amount you have to pack to how much time you spend not eating your own food. And I would add that you have to endure this torment while eating at one of only three kid-approved restaurants whose menus (and food) is likely plastic.

However, it does get better as they age – phenomenally better. Meals, whether at home or out, are now some of my favorite moments of each day. Like lunch yesterday, when my kids and I discussed Malala Yousafzai (my son just read her book), how fascist regimes come to power and the current situation at the US/Mexico border. Although not a ‘fun’ lunch topic, it was a valuable discussion and one people across the world are having. People like James who, although presently filming his show in London, took a moment to address it with his audience. James, who is a Brit but works in the US, said, “I don’t think this is an American political issue. I think this is simply a human decency issue.” I agree. And I’d add that it is also not a parent vs. non-parent issue. Anyone with an ounce of compassion is horrified by this atrocity. I think many of us are looking for ways to help and nothing feels like enough. But we still have to try. The Cut provided some good options and James posted the web address for RAICES Texas who provides legal representation and the immigration bond that allows children to rejoin their parents. That website is www.raicestexas.org.

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Photo credit: WENN Photos

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32 Responses to “James Corden on going out to eat with 3 kids under 7: it’s just a nightmare”

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  1. littlemissnaughty says:

    The baby issue I get. But I’ve seen this in my circle of …. let’s call them acquaintances, with kids who should be able to sit still and eat for at least 30 minutes. We learned that on day 1 in kindergarten. You sit still, you learn how to eat without re-creating scenes from Saw, and the you get to go outside and be wild. Granted, mine was a Catholic one run by the same nun since shortly after WWII. She must’ve been in her 70s. She was lovely but strict. I’ve seen kids about to enter elementary school who can’t eat a frickin’ meal without going nuts.

    • JaneDoesWork says:

      UGH my in laws kids are like this. For some reason we are the only ones on that side of the family that have a kitchen table that has a seat for every member of their family. Because of that, my nieces and nephews have gotten used to running around and doing whatever they want during dinner. I can’t stand going to restaurants with them because they run around and its not fair to everyone else including the wait staff.

      • lucy2 says:

        A few weeks ago a 3-4 year old at a table near me would not sit down, the parents were totally disengaged, and the kid ran right in front of the kitchen door and almost tripped a waitress with a huge heavy tray. The waitress firmly told him he has to sit down because it’s dangerous, and I don’t think either parent blinked an eye.

        I appreciate people who know it won’t go well and simply don’t bring their kids out to restaurants until they’re old enough to behave. Or those who stick to kid friendly places. But those who bring kids to nicer places and let them run wild? The worst.

    • Saho says:

      You don’t have kids, do you?

  2. Digital Unicorn says:

    I was never a fan of his, he always got on my last nerve but since he’s gone all HW he’s not too bad to stomach – is still annoying thou.

    But kids in restaurants are one of my biggest annoyances, many are well behaved which i can deal with but I have been known to walk out if I see kids running around screaming. As someone who eats out regularly I have learned the best places to go to avoid this – the higher end places while they welcome kids tend to have rules about children’s behaviour. I was in one place where a family were asked to leave as they had 2 kids under 5 who were running around playing hide and seek while the parents were drinking wine with their friends. The children almost got scalded by a waiter carrying a large pot of coffee – when the parents were asked to reign in their children they refused (the father said they were just being children) and were then asked to pay their bill and leave. They did but made a massive fuss about it – you could see where the children got their attitude from.

    I’ve also had kids come up to my table and try and take the food off my plate, all while the parents were laughing thinking its funny.

    • bee says:

      I had three kids under 5 years who are now teenagers. When my husband and I are having a date night alone and a hostess tries to seat us near a table with rowdy looking little kids I always request to be moved. My kids aren’t perfect but we ate out with them at least once a week from the time they were babies and always required them to stay in their seats even after they finished their meals. Hardly any of my friends had that rule and it was embarrassing to see their kids running around a restaurant about to trip the wait staff when we dined together. I had a tote bag in the trunk of my car with paper and crayons and small toys or puzzles and couldn’t believe how many people didn’t pack anything to keep their kids occupied at the table. Not to sound like a sanctimonious asshole, but it didn’t seem too hard to figure out (and my kids were pre-iPads and iPhones).

    • Redgrl says:

      Agree – my parents used to go out to eat with my brother and I and we learned quite quickly to not run around or act up. We also had crayons and paper and later books to entertain us. I remember once I was being loud or not listening (I was around 4). My mother told me to stop – and that if I didn’t we would leave. The food had arrived so I figured she wouldn’t leave her lunch so I kept being silly. My mother grabbed the car keys from my dad, marched us outside and we sat in the car and watched my dad finish his lunch in the restaurant. My mother left her lunch behind too. Suffice it to say, I never acted up in a restaurant again!

    • Tiny Martian says:

      Parents who let their kids run around in a restaurant are just lazy, that’s all. The whole “children being children” excuse is a joke. Yes, the children are being children……..and if the parents would start being parents, then the children would learn appropriate behaviour!

      Families have always gone to places like restaurants, museums, and on shopping excursions, etc, but it’s only in the recent past that I’ve noticed kids up and running around everywhere in public. Sadly, it’s becoming a norm, and all it does it to teach those kids entitlement. There are plenty of appropriate venues where kids can be free to “be kids”.

    • holly hobby says:

      We’ve taught our kids to sit and wait wait for their food. My kids know better than to run around the restaurant. Usually we give them a pen and a piece of paper (we are anti ipad and smartphones too – you want kids to have some sort of social skills right?) so they can doodle on it while they wait for the food.

      We teach our kids that it’s a privilege to eat out and the restaurant is “not your living room.” So no running and fooling around.

  3. Becks1 says:

    Mine are 3.5 and 6 and its just now starting to get better. There was a phase of about a year where we just didn’t go out to eat – if we didn’t want to cook we just did carryout. It does help that the 3 year old loves to color, so usually the kids menus occupy him.

    but its one of those things where you’re like – oh we’ll just go out to eat! and then you get there and feel like Julia Roberts – Big mistake. HUGE!

  4. Samigirl says:

    I bet baby Stormageddon would be a perfect angel at dinner ;-)

    It’s always refreshing when celebs say/show the more difficult side of parenting. I can’t count how many times I’ve told my kids “we are never going to a restaurant again!”

  5. Kathleen says:

    It’s just so stressful! It’s not like I can enjoy the meal bc I’m constantly making sure my toddlers aren’t misbehaving and disrupting others. Unless we’re at Friendlys or another kid place I just avoid taking them to restaurants until they’re older. We get a sitter if we want to go out and relax.

    • Nana says:

      Most fellow diners would be empathetic towards parents like you, who are clearly trying 100% to mind their children’s behaviour, but have an actual life outside the house at the same time. You should be able to relax, enjoy someone else doing the cooking and cleaning up and not be so worried!

      However there’s a difference between you and parents who take absolutely no responsibility; who are oblivious to their kids running around free range as if they were in a paintball park, crashing into wait staff carrying plates etc, racing around other peoples tables etc. Even fellow parents have zero sympathy for them!!

  6. Sam the Pink says:

    I have to disagree. I have 3 who are 8 and under, and we can go out (to appropriate restaurants, of course). The biggest thing is that my kids get spoken to before arriving, and they all get that if they misbehave in any way, we will leave and no food will be had. The 2 year old is the tricky one, but we’ve basically learned that at the first grumble or sniffle, get her out. It makes it easier. But they know the first time they try to get out of their seat, the first thrown anything, we’re out. People don’t give kids enough credit – they can follow rules. You just have to set expectations and then enforce them.

  7. Deens says:

    There are so many factors why children act up in restaurants—it isn’t fair to make blanket statements like “mine never misbehaved because I raised them right”. When kids are annoying you should wonder if they’ve been cooped up in a car for ages? Have they been dragged around on a long shopping trip on a hot day? Did grandparents plan a meal during kids’ usual nap time? Did the family have to wait 15 minutes to get seated, then another 15 to have their order taken, then another 30 minutes for food to arrive? Kids get bored waiting! My husband and I usually look at the menu when we walk in and order the kids food before even being seated, before drinks or anything else. We press the waiter to please bring it out as soon as it’s ready. We insist the kids sit down but there’s only so long a 2 and 4 year old will sit passively staring around a room. We then take it in turns taking them for a walk outside if the food is taking forever. People forget that parenting isn’t a walk in the park.

  8. Amelie says:

    I guess my sister and I were well-behaved because we ate out all the time as kids. Maybe not when we were small toddlers/babies but we thought restaurants were fun because we thought it was just SO cool we got to pick what we ate from an entire menu and didn’t have to be forced to eat yucky veggies my parents tried to feed us. In fact when I was really small I wanted to be a waitress much to my mom’s horror hahaha. We were also pretty calm and low-key and not running around like wild animals.

  9. Slowsnow says:

    I love how everyone’s kids and everyone when they were babies / toddlers here were so good in restaurants. Well done! You probably don’t remember how you behaved before you were six. Moreover, some days it’s ok bc they napped, played, were relaxed, but those days where you are travelling or just don’t have time/energy to muster the courage to cook for everyone, you get out and want to be served. And that’s when your well behaved kids throw an out-of-character tantrum because kids always sense your fatigue and it upsets them. It can happen once in a while and you all being so judgy just makes me laugh.
    [Exception made for those parents who really really don't bother trying to calm their kids down: that annoys me to no end.].

    • littlemissnaughty says:

      I don’t have kids but I see how parents around me raise their kids. They don’t enforce ANY rules. A six -year-old can sit for 30 minutes. Maybe not every meal every day, but they should be capable of that in general. Instead “boys are just like that”. No. There is a difference between a kid having a moment or a tantrum and a kid who thinks behaving like a lunatic is normal because the parents think so as well.

      • Redgrl says:

        Agree @littlemissnaughty – Friends of ours have three boys under 10 and they run the house. The parents have no control whatsoever. The middle one (age 7) recently punched the mom in the face giving her a bloody nose. Scary. People have tried to speak with them about getting help for the kids’ behaviour but they say things like “well, they’re entitled to have feelings.” It’s worrying.

  10. holly hobby says:

    He’s speaking the truth here. I remember all the gear we haul out when we went out to eat (your own baby chair that you attach to the restaurant’s chairs because the high chairs are usually death traps in some restaurants), the toddler’s own bowl and spoon (because you’re paranoid that the restaurant doesn’t clean the dinnerware as well as you like it), crayons, paper, little snacks because kids are impatient. Yep don’t miss those days at all.

    It does get better when they are older.

  11. Lindy says:

    Really young kids are definitely exhausting. It takes a lot of focus and teaching and training (and night after night of family dinners where we practice having conversations and using good table manners) to get kiddos ready to be out in the wild at restaurants that aren’t geared toward kids. With an 8-week-old and a son turning 9 today, we’ll venture out to dinner at my older kiddo’s favorite sushi joint. I’m already tired thinking of keeping the baby corralled but it’s a special occasion:-) Parents should know their kids’ limits and not push them too hard. I never want to be the parent ruining others’ dinners.

  12. Sherry says:

    When I went from 1 to 2 kids (and then 3), we moved from going to nicer restaurants to more family-friendly restaurants. However, even though we were in a family-friendly restaurant, my children knew how to behave. I’ve been to restaurants recently where the kids were screaming and parents were chasing them all over the restaurant like it was a game of tag.

  13. Rebecca says:

    I have two kids. I figured out that you should always sit at a booth with each child on the inside – one next to mom and one next to dad. This way they can’t reach eachother so they can’t fight and they can’t get past each parent so they can’t get out to run around and they can’t get past your legs if they try to crawl under. Perfect system.

  14. Ale says:

    Okay, I think I’m definitely in the minority here. It doesn’t bother me when kids run around at restaurants. I see it as free entertainment, because it usually is. I don’t dine at high brow restaurants – so maybe that is the difference— but I like to see kids playing and enjoying themselves and I get a kick out of what they say.

    I don’t have children. I’ve never been a waitress. Maybe that would give me a different opinion.

  15. Em says:

    A nightmare only if you haven’t put in the effort to teach your children manners and how to behave in public. There is usually no difference between the way children behave at home and the way the behave outside, discipline starts at home not at the restaurant door.

  16. PoliteTeaSipper says:

    I agreed to meet my sister and her two kids under 4 for dinner out since they were visiting close by and typically live across the country. It was a disaster. I didn’t realize she was one of those parents that checked out in public and expected others to watch her kids while SHE had an uninterrupted meal. I was mortified! At one point I barely caught my nephew when he decided to charge for the door, and when I took my niece to the restroom he tried again and managed to get outside of the building and into the parking lot before a busboy caught him—my sister was busy looking at her phone and had no clue he’d even left the table. She barely even acknowledged that the busboy brought him back. She thought that everyone in the restaurant was looking at her because they thought her kids were adorable, but it was because they were so badly behaved! I won’t be in a situation like that again and I’ve refused to go out to eat with them since.

  17. K says:

    Just got home from a grocery shopping trip at Trader Joe’s (which is always crowded with people, tight aisles and overstimulation) and I’m glad to have escaped a 3 year old who was making mischief all over the store. She wasn’t crying, but she was intermittently SHRIEKING in a very startling way, darting around underfoot, picking up and moving food wherever the whim took her. Her dad was barely moving since he had to keep picking up all the things she discarded on the floor instead of grabbing what he needed. Nobody said anything judgey and tried to just smile at the kid, but honestly, he could have told her to cool it or captured her attention with a toy or something. Nope, just run free, little maniac, hope you don’t get run over by a cart! I know it’s a full-time slog for parents, that’s one of many reasons why I’m so glad I don’t have kids of my own. They’re so loud and annoying.

  18. Jag says:

    I’ll have to ask my dad what he and mom did to teach us good table manners as very young children. They were always getting compliments on how well behaved the three of us were while dining at all kinds of restaurants – from McDonald’s to Red Lobster and beyond.

    It always surprises me to read about children acting so wildly when they are taken out to eat. The only thing that I remember being told is that we would leave if we misbehaved, and our parents meant it. It only took once of us leaving the restaurant and we never acted up like that again. (We loved going out to eat. Mom was a fantastic cook, but eating out was something special.)