Eating out with toddlers is riskier than taking your ‘just for emergencies’ credit card to a sale in Frasers.
You might get the angelic child, who sits nicely at the table and eats all their food, or you could get Damian, who squirms, screams and refuses a single bite.
But now, after many tears and tantrums - thrown by me - I think we’ve cracked it. Go somewhere with soft play.
The Beancross has a large soft play area in one of the dining rooms, with tables close enough by that you can leave the kids to their own devices while you have five minutes of peace.
I took advantage of the facilities last week on a lunch date with my friend Amy and my energetic son.
Usually lunchtime catch-ups go something like this: Me: ‘So, tell me about your new job.’
Me: ‘Harrison, get the fork out of your ear. Sounds really exciting.’
Me: ‘Stop pouring salt all over the table!’
And we leave without actually getting to have any kind of catch-up.
But the ingenious soft play at The Beancross meant we could actually chat while Harrison amused himself/burnt off energy.
The restaurant, owned by Hannigan Hotels who also have The Park Hotel and The Cladhan, offers two courses for £10, or three for £12 as well as a lunch menu.
Deciding three courses was too much for lunch, but a sandwich wouldn’t satisfy after that morning’s 12 km run, we went for two courses. The food is basic pub style food, but done well and the menu big enough to suit even the fussiest of eaters, including gluten free and vegan dishes.
We had the burger and scampi while Harrison clearly worked up a decent appetite in the soft play and demolished his large portion of kids sausages and chips.
Desserts at The Beancross are a highlight and my chocolate brownie with caramel sauce was the perfect ending to a lovely lunch.
The restaurant offers value and home style cooking as well as the ideal location for an afternoon catch up.
And the best part of the whole experience?
After all the running around, Harrison slept for two hours once we got home, allowing me to watch two full episodes of ‘Sons of Anarchy’ uninterrupted.
The washing can wait when a chance as rare rolls around.
The Beancross Bar & Bistro
West Beancross Farm, Polmont By-Pass