By Guest Contributor
Tips to Take Your Kids Out to Eat
and Not Regret It
Photo courtesy of Unsplash
We’ve all been there. You finally get everyone out of the house so you can enjoy a meal at a nearby restaurant. You dream of ordering your favorite dish and a glass of wine.
But things aren’t that easy when you have a toddler in tow. Instead of calamari, you get crying. And you can’t even enjoy your meal because your child is fidgeting in their seat and looking for something to do after pushing their dinner plate away. You wonder to yourself, “Why do I bother?”
Don’t let these little hiccups stop you from eating out with your family. Here are some helpful tips to tame your toddler and enjoy that tiramisu and glass of Champagne (because it’s time to cheer for this parenting win).
Make sure it’s a Kid-Friendly Establishment
To save yourself some aggravation, make sure you are taking the family to a place that has a kids’ menu. If they don’t have a kids’ menu, it’s probably best to save that restaurant for a date night.
Offering a nutritious vegetarian meal or other type of food specifically for children suggests that the atmosphere is probably more loud and busy than intimate. The last thing you would want is to take your tantrum-prone toddler to a place that has white napkins and candlelight. Other diners there will thank you. A quick search of the Internet – type in best kid-friendly restaurants – will give you a long list of places to eat (and usually around other parents just like yourself!).
Eat Out Around 4:30-5:30 p.m.
It’s the perfect time to head to dinner because it won’t throw off your child’s schedule. The restaurant will most likely be less crowded than during peak hours, so even if they act up, you won’t be bothering a restaurant full of people or stressing out your waiter. A late afternoon or early evening dinner time also gets your child fed before they become over-hungry or overtired. Bonus: You can enjoy Early Bird Specials!
Pack On-the-Go Activities
Many restaurants supply a disposable kids’ menu and crayons so kids can stay occupied while waiting for their food to be served. But, just in case you are going to one that doesn’t have this distraction available, pack some fun activities that don’t take up too much space. Playing cards, activity books, puzzles, and other portable toys are great options. As a last resort, you can also bring electronic devices for kids to use, but remember that they can be noisy and a distraction when your meals do arrive (some kids won’t want to put the iPad or phone down to eat).
Avoid the Center of the Dining Room
Asking for a table away from other guests is a good idea if you know your child is going to be loud. Better yet, if it’s a beautiful day and they offer outside seating, ask to be seated outdoors. Your kids can be a little louder and you can easily play games like “I Spy” to keep them entertained.
Feed them at Home
Don’t feel bad if you want to go to a restaurant but know your child isn’t going to eat anything on the menu. You’re allowed to crave your favorite foods – and enjoy them! Whip up a healthy dinner and serve it to your kids before you head to the restaurant. There’s no rule that they have to eat dinner at the same time as you. The icing on the cake is that if they ate their dinner at home, you can order them dessert at the restaurant. This way, everyone can enjoy eating together.