Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Friday, September 2, 2011

How To Survive Eating Out With Kids

Dining out with kids can be a pretty intimidating experience since they can be so unpredictable. After one incident in particular that ended with our 2-year-old throwing a crouton at my husband across the table, I learned some valuable lessons.

1. Talk about the outing beforehand. If you don't plan on buying beverages for instance, let the kids know you will all be ordering water so they know what to expect.

2. If you can, view the menu online first and decide what everyone wants before you go. This cuts down on the time spent sitting in the booth when you know what you want already.

3. Ask for the check and take out boxes at the beginning of the meal. Nothing is more annoying than your server disappearing just as your child is having a meltdown and you were ready to leave 5 minutes ago. It's also really handy in case one of your children is misbehaving. We will box up their food immediately and take them out to the car.

4. Don't bring the kids starving. It will make it miserable for you (and people around you) while you wait for the food.

5. Don't bring your kids to a restaurant when they are tired and crabby.

6. Expect your servers not to know a whole lot about kids. They might put a hot beverage or food within reach or bring a large glass of ice water that inevitably ends up in their laps. Our son bawled because he was covered in hot chocolate. Another time, a waitress took it upon herself to put a hot fry in front of him without asking my permission. He touched it and cried.

7. Choose a place that caters to kids and offers coloring or something else to do while they wait.

After one of our worst experiences, we boxed up everyone's food when hardly any of it was eaten yet because we wanted to train our kids to behave themselves in order to have better dining experiences in the future. We now enjoy many restaurant meals worry free.  Dining out doesn't have to end when you have children.

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