Afternoon Tea with a toddler. Think twice

Try not to sweat the small stuff

I love creating memorable experiences for my kids and finding special occasions to bring us closer together. Whether that’s a weekend adventure, a trip to a museum, or creative projects at home. With two young kids, I almost always feel exhausted at the end of any project or endeavor. My son is also at an age where he is over-the-top inquisitive. Parents, you know what I’m talking about.

My son, on the subject of Margherita pizza

Why is the pizza called Margherita? What are these green things? Do I have to eat them? What’s basil? Does basil grow in the ground or on trees? Did God make them? Does God eat basil? Can we get a pizza without basil? Actually, I just want pizza with no sauce, no cheese, no basil, and no tomatoes.

Me: No, because it’s no longer a pizza.

Fast forward: The basil and the tomato slices (on his side of the pizza) have been surgically removed.

Half and half
You can tell which side is his side of the pizza.

I love that my son is curious. He has an existentialist mindset, questioning absolutely everything and defining his own sense of the world. Something we should always encourage as parents…to question things.

My daughter, when it comes to tea time

My youngest is a toddler with a bold personality. She can be a hurricane force of nature, and I can see the machinations behind her cherubic mien. In many ways, she and I are most alike. My mom says she is a mirror copy of what I was like at that age. Personality to boot. Embracing her English side, my daughter loves playing make-believe with tea sets and sipping from tiny cups.

Make-believe tea time
Playtime with tea and cakes

My son was an easy toddler in comparison. He has a breezy, sunny personality and in my eyes, a total charmer. My daughter is far more intense in comparison, a roller coaster of fun and ebullience.

Afternoon tea with fine china

I had made an appointment to take my parents and the kids out for afternoon tea. It would be a first-time treat for my daughter and son. I thought “how cute” if I could dress up my girl in a frilly outfit and adorn her hair with a fascinator hat from her Auntie D. She was so good with her toy tea set. Surely this was an excellent idea.

Reality: Wrong, wrong, wrong.

The English Rose Team Room in San Francisco’s East Bay is a gorgeous place with fine bone china and tables covered in pretty tablecloth. Every inch of the place is covered in floral patterns. Very English I thought. But as soon as I walked in, I had a feeling of dread. Everything was in close quarters and the fine china looked incredibly delicate as I saw my toddler stomping her little feet.

Beads of sweat formed on my brow and on my upper lip. As we sat in chairs with little seat cushions, the server appeared and patiently walked us through the tea service.

Tea service
Server was warm and friendly

Delicate teapots in the shape of chimneyed houses, cups with delicate handles, clattering saucers, gilded plates, and a 3-tier tray of finger foods appeared. Every inch of the table was covered with dangerously breakable items. Did I want hibiscus tea or mint tea? Cucumber sandwich or egg sandwich? Scone with clotted cream and jam, or carrot cake? Sugar cookie or apple pie? Everything was sumptuous, but I was too busy hovering around my little girl to have much of an appetite. Making sure she didn’t touch this or that, or worse actually drink anything from a tea cup.

I looked over at my son. He was enjoying himself and was quite happy with his special meal and apple juice in a tea cup. Bonus, he found a tiny dish of M&Ms next to his flower shaped PB&J sandwich. Talk about finger food!

Afternoon tea with the family
Happy with his kid-friendly meal

My son was a perfect little gentleman and made his momma proud. My daughter, on the other hand, was building herself into a quite a state. Of course she wanted to interact with the fine ladies sitting at adjacent tables. An elderly pair were having a polite conversation to our right, while the table to our left had the most well-behaved pair of young sisters, bows and all. This was not going to be my day.

My daughter bellowed that she wanted to get down from her chair. Nana and I promptly escorted my mini-me outside where they had pretty tables and tea sets displayed in a garden party setting. Phew, disaster averted. We had escaped outside.

Garden party setting
My girl running around in the garden party setting

Pretty soon a stuffed bunny with long floppy ears caught my daughter’s eye. She managed to decapitate it with one quick swoop of her energetic arms. The bunny’s head was fortunately affixed to a wooden stick, so I was able to easily re-attach the head to its floating body.  Another potential crisis averted.

So much for finding respite outdoors, the garden party setting was rife with adorable breakables. With defeated looks, we marched right back inside.

Back inside for tea
With nana by her side, she dips her pirouette smack dab in a frosted cupcake

We finally got my little one to take a few bites of her meal. She managed to dip her pirouette straight into the frosting of a pink cupcake, and made a little mess of things. Bits of her beautiful floral PB&J sandwich ended up on her lap, and she slingshot launched the fascinator hat, nearly hitting me in the face. Her idea of sitting in a chair was to stand, so she was at eye-level with all of us. Did she think she was the Queen of England?

Our afternoon tea outing turned to be an abbreviated visit, and we left with a generous doggie bag filled with all the sumptuous food we had not been able to enjoy.

We’ll come back in a couple years

Fine time
Afternoon tea in the future

In summary, I loved the ‘idea’ of experiencing afternoon tea with the kids. My son happily nibbled on all the finger foods and loved the whimsy of the tea settings. It was too much to expect my toddler daughter to sit still for even a few minutes. Would I go back? Absolutely! But I’ll wait a while until my daughter is a bit older. At the moment, we’re better off taking her to the local pumpkin patch.

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25 thoughts on “Afternoon Tea with a toddler. Think twice

    1. Oh my goodness, I’m glad I’m not alone in this! It was really beautiful, but so much harder to enjoy with a toddler. ha ha!

    1. My favorite part had to be all the tiny tea cakes and finger sandwiches. The carrot cake with was pretty amazing!

  1. Maybe in a couple years you can try again when both kids will be at the perfect age to enjoy the tea! That place looks amazing though, especially those treats in the first photo!

  2. This is so relatable! So nice to experience such things as afternoon tea but with children, there are, of course, so many breakable items so it can be more of a stressful time than relaxing! The children’s plates look fantastic – so much to choose from!

  3. It wouldn’t have been fun it everything would have been by the book, right? Luckily all major disaster were avoided, so you will still remain with some really fond memories of this day, the first afternoon tea with your children. 🙂

  4. Looks liek a fun afternoon tea with your kid. He looks so happy. Quality time is really important especially with the kids.

  5. I think this is adorable– I would want to try something like this for my kiddos, especially since you’ve given an idea of what types of foods to put on the platter and what to expect when having tea with little ones.

  6. That place looks beautiful. I would love to visit there. I think it’s so funny how toddlers have a way of making us question our decision-making LOL.

  7. These things can be so fun, especially at a cool place but the older the better. My daughter is 10 and we are able to enjoy things like this!

  8. I think yur children are adorable! Concerning the Afternoon tea, I suppose it all comes down to what children are used to do.
    My own children have been raised in a appartment, where I never put away fine china vases or dishwear, they’ve always eaten in fancy china and drunk in glass cups. They know this things are breakable from the very beginning! So they learn to be careful from young age. That’s about it!

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