Dining at a child-friendly restaurant is highly recommended for families with young children. However, it’s not always possible to eat at restaurants with playgrounds, paper and crayons or ultra friendly staff.
Still, families can have enjoyable restaurant dining experiences if they go fully prepared. Here are some suggestions on how to dine out at restaurants with kids without stress.
Keep Kids Amused at Restaurant
Kids have very short attention span. When forced to wait for their food, they may grumble incessantly and become a nuisance to other diners. To prevent that, keep them amused until their food arrives. Bring along coloring materials that won’t stain table cloths, quiet toys or small puzzle games for older children. Pack some healthy snacks too just in case the food takes longer than expected to arrive.
Choose a Quiet Location Inside Restaurant
A quiet corner inside the restaurant or an out-of-the way location will be ideal for families with kids. It provides privacy and the kids are less likely to run into busy waiters and waitresses carrying hot food and drinks. To ensure the family gets a quiet table, call ahead to book or arrive early at the restaurant.
Supervise Kids Closely When Dining Out
To keep children safe, parents should supervise them closely when dining out at restaurants, especially when they have to visit the washroom. Accompany children younger than 10 or have an adult waiting outside while a child uses the toilet. Alternatively, send two or three children together to the toilet. Tell them to enter and leave together. Teach them not to talk to strangers and yell loudly for help if approached by strangers in unusual circumstances.
Allow Children to Order Their Own Food
Children are likely to enjoy restaurant dining more if they can order their own food. Parents who don’t want to give kids too much freedom in choosing their food can give them several healthy options to choose from. Also, ask for children’s food to be delivered first. When they finish, get the waiter to clear their part of the table so that they can continue with their little games and coloring while Mum and Dad enjoy their meal in peace.
Order Appetizers as Meals
Children can’t eat a lot and many restaurants have very limited kids’ menus. So why not order appetizers as meals instead? The portions are smaller and more varieties can be sampled. It will be more casual but certainly more fun too!
Stay Calm at all Times
Try to stay calm when kids are around at the restaurant. If Little Johnny drops a piece of chicken on the floor or Rosie spills a drink, let it go. Don’t get upset over things like this. Just smile, stay cool and ask the waiter to clean up a bit.
However, if a baby or toddler gets very cranky and starts wailing uncontrollably, be prepared to leave the table or even the restaurant for a short while. Walk around nearby shops or take the child to see something interesting. The change of environment and distraction can help restore her mood.
Parents need to be ready if they wish to have an enjoyable restaurant dining experience with their kids. Pack games and coloring materials to keep them amused while waiting, choose a table at a quiet location, supervise kids closely, allow children to order their own food, order appetizers as meals and stay calm no matter what happens.