From very early on, my husband and I decided that we would not put our lives on hold because we had children. We enjoy eating out, we enjoy going on vacation, and we can't be expected to live life in the bubble of our home just because we have a kid. And one of the best pieces of advice I received before Caleb was born was, "Don't mold your life to your kids, fit your kids into your life."
And becoming a stay-at-home mom cemented this for me. I don't have the time to wait around to find someone who can stay with him while I got to the grocery store. Some weeks, I'm really lucky and my mother-in-law comes over and spends a few hours with him, or my parents have a day off and they come over and hang out with him, and I can go get things done really efficiently. But most of the time, I do everything with him. And I don't see why the weekends have to be any different.
He has been to doctors appointments with me, he goes shopping with me (frequently, I might add), he goes to restaurants, and he certainly goes to mass with us on Sundays. Why do I subject myself to these stressful levels of toddlerhood? Well, because if I don't expose him to these situations now, when is he going to learn what is appropriate behavior in certain settings and what isn't?
We are far from having perfect behavior in these public places, but for the most part, he does pretty well. He knows that when we are at the grocery store or at Target, he is going to be in the cart. He knows that when we are shopping, he sits in his stroller (and he usually deals with this atrocity by taking a nap).
I feel like there are two big things that annoy others when it comes to kids (there are probably a million more but these are the big ones). I try to abide by some general rules to keep myself, baby, and the rest of those around us happy (let's face it, as much as we would like to think it does, the world doesn't revolve around us and our kids).
We also make every effort to go to restaurants that are child-friendly. I wouldn't take my toddler to an upscale restaurant with a quiet ambiance. We choose places where we know some of his noise will be drowned out by the noise of the restaurant. Places where we know he will be welcomed and it won't be frowned upon that we have a toddler with us.
And truthfully, I have found that more places than not are very accepting and friendly towards small children. I have found this in every city, in every country we have been to with Caleb - From Toronto, to Paris, to New York, to the Dominican Republic. The rules of common courtesy apply everywhere!
So don't lock yourself in your house with your kids. Take them out, expose them to the sights and sounds and smells that this world has to offer. Teach them socially acceptable behaviors and norms for all the different situations they can encounter. It will make them more adaptable and ready to handle all kinds of situations!
Good luck and I can't wait to hear all about your adventures!