Going to dinner with kids can be a such a feat that you may choose to avoid it altogether – but sometimes, it’s just nice to have someone else do the cooking for you.
Here are some tips to make it all work, so you can leave with your sanity still intact:
Set the Stage for BehaviorÂ
Before you enter theÂ restaurant, set the stage for good behavior with your kids. For those who are old enough to understand specific directions and expectations, a quick reminder as to proper behavior in a restaurant setting is always a good idea.
Be clear as to noise level when talking, what you expect them to do if they want to get out of their seats, how they should address a waiter or waitress (please and thank you should be included in there somewhere) and that you expect they will eat what they order.
This is especially important if your child happens to have a friend along. It’s easy for your child to forget when they are in the midst of kidÂ shenanigans what your expectations are – additionally, it’s a good opportunity for you to let the friend know what your family expects when out to eat so the boundaries are set out the gate.
Be an Early Bird
It pays off to be at theÂ restaurant early when they have first seating for dinner. It will allow for you to be one of the first families seated, you will be hitting your child’s dinner hour right away so their patience will be at it’s best and you are likely to get food promptly due to the light load in the kitchen.
While it would be nice to linger over a meal, we all know that dinner with kids isn’t like date night without them in tow, so following the above early bird suggestions is wise.
As soon as you are seated consider ordering for your littlest family members food first. Additionally, Â if it’s a place where they have a standard bread basket or chips and salsa option – be certain to have that on the table to appease your little one who may not be able to communicate so well that they are hungry.
Bringing standard snacks is another good idea to help hold off hungry tummies. Impatient toddlers often do not understand that it will only be a couple of more minutes before they’ll have their food ready from the kitchen in the back, so having something to offer them is wise – worse case scenario you’re taking home some leftovers because they ate those snacks but you avoided a meltdown, which is a bigger win in this mama’s book!
- Crayons and Paper – I have sets of these in each and every bag that I carry. Am I the only mom that has several different bags depending on the length of time I’ll be out of the house?
- Wikki Stix are sicks that are bendable, adhere to smooth surfaces and come with pattern cards for creating different designs and shapes for endless creative play.
Choose a Kid-friendly location
- Buffets are a great way to allow for independent choice as well as the ability to eat immediately when you have kids that, for one reason or another, may need to eat right away.
- Outdoor seating allows for a more relaxed approach to noise. If the weather is seasonable or you are fortunate to live in a place where the weather is nice year around, choose a place where you can eat outdoors to offset andÂ unforeseenÂ circumstances that may come up.
Image: Flickr bowler1996p