If you’re thinking about taking your kids out for a night on the town, you already know that it could either go really well, or it could be a tantrum waiting to happen. Teaching your children to act their best can be difficult, but it’s all about trial and error.
Don’t forget that they’re going to be best behaved if they’re wearing comfortable clothes too. Scratchy sweaters and too-tight waistbands might get them irritated and antsy. It’s no fun for anyone when you have to dry tears before the first plate even gets to the table. Let’s avoid that from happening with a cozy kids’ sweater, and these five tips for dining out with kids at a restaurant.
Pick restaurants that have kids’ menus. While you could easily make these dishes at home in your flannel pajamas, there’s value in escaping the comfort and routine back home. A restaurant with a kids’ menu is usually more understanding of the limits of your kids’ appetites and have waitstaff that won’t scoff at requests for a ketchup bottle.
Your mini-Matisse may not be allowed into the restaurant with their easel, canvas, and acrylic paints but if you bring your own coloring books and crayons they’ll be able to hone their art before, during, and after their meal. Feel free to give them a challenge and see if they can create a self-portrait of themselves in a kids’ flannel shirt.
Go into the restaurant knowing exactly what you’re getting. View the menu online. Call ahead to learn the specials and place your order if you can. If your little ones are under the age of 5, cutting down on idle time is a gift for everyone. Take the earlier reservation. Pack a few back-up snacks. And plan your return before bath time. You may get a round of applause from your fellow diners!
Differentiate what types of dress are for restaurant eating and which clothes are best at home. While the turtleneck shirt works at home, a girl's skirts with a little twirl implies that a restaurant is a special place to go. This can go hand in hand with those table manners too. A napkin on the lap can be one of those subtle gestures that will prepare them for their “fine dining” experience. If they’re better with a bib at home, better to be safe than sorry. Pro tip: bring stain removing wipes in case of a sauce disaster. An extra kids’ t-shirt or dress in your oversized purse isn’t a bad thing, either.
If you can, arrive well before your reservations. Let the kids stretch their legs before heading in. A casual stroll down the street to do some window shopping or storytelling might be just the thing. Kids’ Squall Parkas keep them plenty warm while you amble about. While you’re walking, call to let them know you’ll be right in. Makes the transition super easy.
See? It’s not too tough to enjoy dinner out with the kids. You really can have it all.