Your Survival Guide to Dining Out with Kids
Going out to eat at a restaurant when you have kids can be a challenge. Some parents avoid going for fear of embarrassment but the sooner you start taking your children out to eat with you, the sooner they will learn how to behave properly in that situation. Here are some handy tips on making it enjoyable for everyone, including the other patrons at the restaurant.
Choose a kid-friendly establishment If your kids are small, taking them to a fancy restaurant isn’t the best idea. Many people there are going for the intimacy and romance. Kids tend to spoil the mood. Instead, find places that are family-friendly. They should have children’s menus and crayons which will help keep your kids busy.
Prepare your kids for the outing When you make a plan to go out to eat, you should talk to your child about what happens when you go to a restaurant. You can even play make-believe and simulate a restaurant experience. Being prepared is crucial because your child will know what to expect, which should help prevent a meltdown.
Check out the menu before you go Everything is online these days, especially restaurant menus. You can show your child the menu and let him pick what sounds good. Also, it would do you some good to look at the choices so that when you’re too busy picking crayons up off the floor and the server comes around for your order, you’ll have something in mind that you can order.
Give them something to nibble on If possible, choose a restaurant that serves free bread baskets or order a small appetizer as soon as you get seated. That way, your child has something to munch on until the meal is served.
Keep them occupied Make use of the colorable children’s menus that most restaurants have but also pack some activities yourself. An extra coloring book, extra crayons and board books are all great things that will keep your little one busy. If you have a tablet, make sure to load it up with interactive apps and their favourite shows which will buy you quite a bit of quiet time.
Be a good example As with most things, children learn from what they see us do. Exhibit good table manners but don’t be so foolish as to expect your 2-year-old will totally master the art of eating without dropping lots of it on the floor. Try to pick up what you can and make sure to be generous when you tip.
End on a sweet note Make the occasion special and reward good behaviour by ordering a dessert that everyone can share. If you can’t go out very often, it’s a nice way to end the evening and gives your child incentive to behave the next time you dine out.