Dining out with your kids is supposed to be a pleasurable experience, but parents with young children know there are times when eating out is far from fun. I have two boys, ages eight and two, and we have been going out to restaurants since they were babies. We do not have household help so we tend to eat out a lot when we are too tired to cook and wash dirty pans and dishes. After eight years, I have learned some practical survival tips when we go to a restaurant with our kids.
Problem: "My son likes to run around in the restaurant while we are eating." Kids, especially toddlers, can only sit still for a short span of time unlike us adults who would like to savor our meal. My husband and I sometimes take turns eating so one of us can watch over our overactive two-year-old. Or we end up eating quickly before we incur the wrath of both wait staff and fellow diners alike when our kids are way too disruptive. If we want to enjoy our meal we do the following:
Tip 1: Tire them out. We let them run around a play area or walk around the mall first so some of their energy is used up by the time we get to the restaurant.
Tip 2: Choose a restaurant with fast and efficient service. This saves precious minutes when you have a hyperactive child.
Tip 3: Box them in. We like sofa-type seats because it gives our three-year-old some opportunity to move around without disturbing other diners.
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Tip 4: Bring an entertainment kit. My husband and I are on the traditional side so we tend to bring stickers, crayons, markers, coloring books and activity sheets. Feel free to bring a favorite quiet toy (a small lego set, blocks, etc.) to keep him still for a few more minutes.
Tip 5: Reward them. We tell the kids that if they sit still and wait patiently for Ma and Da to finish their food, we will get a dessert they like. When we want to eat healthy, it’s frozen yogurt. Or we tell them we can go to a place of their choosing like a toy store or Time Zone for the older kids.