Taking your children out to eat can sometimes feel like a daunting task for parents. Plus, there’s that fear of looks exchanging while some people are trying to dine in peace. Many of us have been there, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You can still eat out and have an enjoyable dinner experience when going out to eat with your kids.
Here are the best tips for dining out with your kids.
Consider taking some time practicing at home before venturing out at a restaurant. While you roleplay at home, you can practice proper dinner manners by letting your kids observe how to behave. Kids learn best by observing how their parents act at home and in public. So, you or your spouse could play waiter and hostess while the kids sit down and eat their meals together.
It also helps if you invite your kids’ friends over or place stuffed animals around the table. They can have a tea party together and learn what it’s like to dine in a real restaurant.
Some of the manners you’ll want to emphasize are sitting still, waiting patiently, and using utensils. It would also help if you talked about what rules to follow when dining so they know what you expect of them.
Family restaurants are the best places to choose from when you plan on going out to eat with your kids. But before you decide which restaurant to eat at, ensure you set realistic expectations.
Ideally, you should choose a restaurant picky eaters will love with things they like on the menu. You’ll also want to consider eating at a place where you can order quickly and get the food without waiting too long. Because your kids have short attention spans, trendy downtown restaurants may not be the best choice for them.
Restaurants with increased activity may be the better choice since you won’t have to speak in hushed tones.
Consider going to your favorite restaurant at an earlier time than usual. After your kids have had a nap, the best time to go out to eat would be mid-afternoon or early evening. That way, they won’t be overtired or hungry.
Plus, if your kids get loud at the restaurant, it won’t bother anyone since no one will be there. The good thing about eating early with your kids is that you’ll have time to get them ready for their evening routines when you get back home.
Another reason you might want to dine early is to avoid the wait times for tables and service. You might not be hungry at 5:00, but you should still account for the time it takes to get there and wait for the food.
When you dine with your kids, they’ll likely get impatient while sitting and waiting for their food. Consider bringing something that will help keep them busy. Small coloring books, puzzles, and other engaging activities will keep them occupied while waiting for their food.
If you forget to bring something, try playing simple games, such as “I Spy” or “Simon Says.” Focusing on simple activities like these can end up being fun and engaging for the entire family, compared to just handing them your phone.
If you feel like your kids can’t wait long for the main dish, let them have an appetizer. As soon as you’re seated, you can order something kid-friendly. That way, they don’t get impatient and misbehave at the dining room table.
If you’d rather they eat something healthy, you could bring a small bag of fruit to stave off your kids’ hunger.
When you’ve practiced long enough, be clear about how they should behave in the restaurant before going out to eat. Let your kids know there will be consequences if they choose to act out and not follow the rules. For example, taking them outside if they play up.
Taking your child out of the restaurant may not be a punishment to them. However, it’s a way to let others dine in peace, indicating that your child isn’t ready yet.
If you come to this realization, keep practicing at home. More importantly, be consistent with it. If your child acts up, remain calm and stick with the consequences. That way, your child can learn that he has to follow the rules.
Suppose your child notices that her behavior is bothering you. In that case, she’ll be more likely to escalate that behavior to get a rise out of you. This part is where you need to remain unfazed by it. Stay calm and follow through with the consequences discussed during practice time at home.
Dining out should be a nice treat for you and your family. However, it’s important to understand the root cause of the issue of their misbehaviors so you can fix it. Maybe they’re acting out for attention. Or maybe they’re simply misbehaving because they’re too tired. Once you find the main cause, keep utilizing the tips above to enjoy a family night out.
*This is a collaborative post. For further information please refer to my disclosure page.
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