Dining out with your child doesn’t have to be disastrous! In fact, with a little planning it can be downright enjoyable for the entire family.
The next time you’re considering dining out with your children in tow, follow these 7 tips:
1. Choose a child friendly restaurant.
Look for a restaurant that welcomes pint-sized patrons. A kid friendly restaurant will offer a children’s menu, clean and sanitized high chairs, a changing table in the restroom, something for the kids to do while they wait for their meal and a safe place to store the stroller.
2. Know what you’re going to order.
When possible, research the menu prior to heading out. Many restaurants make their menus available online. Knowing what you want to order and ordering once you are seated can cut back on your wait time significantly.
3. Go when it’s not busy.
Avoid heading to a restaurant at peak seating times. Instead, opt to hit it right before or right after the mealtime rush. When you do, you’re almost guaranteed to get quick and attentive service.
4. Go when your child isn’t hungry.
Plan your meal out around your child’s schedule and head to the restaurant a half hour before you know he’ll be hungry. No one likes to wait for their meal when they are past hungry. This is true especially for children.
5. Pack an appetizer.
Many restaurants serve bread sticks, popcorn or other snack type foods to patrons while they wait for their meals. Since many of these foods aren’t appropriate for children, pack along a small baggy of his favorite crackers to serve him while you enjoy the grown up version. Many servers will gladly bring you out oyster crackers or fresh fruit prior to the meal for your child if you ask.
6. Lay out your expectations.
Let your child know what you expect prior to entering the restaurant. Remind him of the restaurant rules and have set consequences for breaking them. Remember that even the most well behave toddler can last at maximum, an hour, sitting at a restaurant table.
7. Bring something for your child to do.
Pack along a small sticker book, activity pad or other quiet activity to keep your child entertained while he waits for his food. Having something to kill the time with will extend the amount of time you’re able to stay at the table.
Enjoying a meal out doesn’t have to end once you have kids. Eating out can offer mom and dad a much needed break from cooking and cleaning up afterwards.