Do you know that when we go out to eat, we almost always bring our three kids? Yes, we do. I think it is important to bring them to places and get them used to what is expected in certain establishments, and setting some expectations.
I’m not saying I expect them to be prim and proper and full of perfect manners- I’m just saying that I do my best to set the “table” for success. So far, I think it’s working- I’ve had people comment on more than one occasion how well behaved our children were at the table. Makes me all proud. (And no, they are NOT always perfect, far from it!!)
I have what we call our “restaurant bag” in the car- in which we have crayon rolls for each of the kids (Caboose Cloth on Etsy made us some custom ones that are super cute- each kid has their own), pads of plain paper (smaller sized, because tables aren’t always large in size, and adding in silverware, dishes, glasses, etc gets crowded fast), some flash card-type sets (these we used my husband’s drill press on and put a binder ring through them- no way to lose them!!
I have an old eyeglass case that I keep some cereal bars in- the eyeglass case protects them from being squished and if the food takes too long, the kids can nibble. We also keep a few sets of kid-sized silverware, especially for the Baby! I almost always have a few of the pouches of applesauce for the kids- just in case- better safe than sorry!!
There are a few special small (quiet) toys we keep in the restaurant bag, as well- sometimes I have stickers in there- anything to keep the kids busy and happy while waiting for the food. The kids know that this is the bag we use at the restaurant and no other times- so its special, its fun, and it keeps them busy.
Aside from our restaurant bag, our biggest key to success has been timing. We normally eat dinner between 5:00 to 5:30 – which means the kids are HUNGRY at 5:00. Sure, its nice to go to dinner at 7 PM, but not when you are toting a 5, 3 and 1 year old along. We try to either be seated and ordering at 5:00 ish or we do a pretty substantial snack before we leave to push the time back a bit.
If the restaurant has a salad bar, or if you get salads with your meal- ask for extra cucumbers (if your kids eat them). Usually they come in a cute little side dish or container that’s a perfect size for little hands…
We do try to chat with the kids before we arrive about what they may want to eat, and when we order drinks their food orders go in, so that they aren’t waiting, waiting waiting for food and getting very antsy. This has worked out so well for us because they are slow eaters, so by the time they finish their meals, ours have come and are pretty well done too.
We usually ask for our bill right when our meals are delivered or when they come to see how our meals are- that way, we’re paid up in case we need to leave in a rush. Dessert isn’t something we focus on so that’s a non issue for us.
You CAN go to restaurants with young children and not have them act like maniacs. You just need to set realistic expectations and plan ahead. Roll with the punches. Dining out with kids almost always means a spill- it happens. It can be cleaned up. If you can’t do it- leave a bigger tip.
What are YOUR tips to dining out successfully with small children?[ad#glam between posts][ad#glam between posts][ad#glam between posts]