Going Out to Eat with Kids without Going Insane
Just because you have small children doesn’t mean you’re doomed to eat dinner at home until they get bigger or you hire a sitter. Sure, you probably shouldn’t take them to a fancy place with an eight-course dinner, but you don’t have to avoid going out to eat because of them. In fact, if you do, you’ll be missing out on teaching them some important life lessons. Here are some tips to make the most of your meal out with your children.
- Prepare them for going out to eat
This may seem like a no-brainer, but when children are new to this experience (or any experience actually) you should always sit them down and talk to them about what is going to happen. It might help to show pictures of a restaurant too and let them know what happens there. Talk to them about this in advance so that when you do take them to the restaurant, they are more likely to behave accordingly.
- Make reservations if possible
Waiting with children, especially for food, is torture. Try to make reservations if you can. Some restaurants, like the big chains, use a call-ahead procedure. Should you be eating at one of those places and still have to wait, you should make sure you have some snacks in your bag or other things to keep them occupied.
- Timing is everything
Try to avoid going out to eat too late in the afternoon or too late into the evening. These are typically times your child will either need a nap or be ready for bed. A tired and hungry child is a recipe for disaster. Nothing can go well with that combination!
- Bring distractions
While most child-friendly restaurants will have crayons and coloring sheets, it never hurts to be prepared. Your child might get bored with coloring and need something else to do. Keep crayons and paper, books and some non-noisy toys with you at all times to avoid any hassles. A tablet is also great because you can put on favorite shows or let them play learning apps which should help keep them quiet.
- Read the menu in advance
Most restaurants have their information online now. Long before your meal there, read the menu and think about the things that sound best to you. That way, you can quickly look over the menu when you’re seated and make a good decision fast.
- Make dessert part of the experience
When you’re first telling your children about going to a restaurant, tell them about dessert too. Tell them that you can get a dessert to share as a family because going out to eat is special, but that everyone must be good at the restaurant. Remind them when you sit down that if everyone behaves, you’ll order dessert for the table. A good restaurant experience deserves a sweet ending!