5 Helpful Tips When Dining Out With Children
Where Do You Want to Eat?
With everyone so busy these days it is hard to find the time to cook a home cooked meal every day. And at the end of a hard work week, sometimes you just want to go out, have a good meal, and have someone else deal with the mess. But when you have children, dining out can be as as staying home and cooking dinner yourself. And if you have children, the last thing you want to do is spend money on a meal and not enjoy it. This is a short list of five things you can do to make dining out with children more enjoyable for all involved.
Lower Your Expectations
While it is true that life does not end when you have children, your life does change. And this means that if you are going to take children out to dinner you may have to lower your expectations. The nice little romantic restaurant with the great pesto may not be the best place to take your children as the atmosphere and the menu may not be kid friendly.
So many times parents set their children up to fail by taking them to a restaurant that has nothing for kids. This usually ends up with the children bored and upset and ruins your dining experience. The answer: simply don’t do it. Save that nice restaurant for a dining experience for adults. Go to a kid friendly restaurant to have a family night. While the pesto may not be as good, the experience will be better and everyone, including yourself, will be happier.
This may seem obvious but when you go out to eat with children make sure the restaurant offers a kids menu. If the menu comes with some coloring pages and crayons that would be ideal. Children get excited about ordering their own dinner and during the lull times an activity will keep them calm and make the dining experience better for everyone.
When you take kids out to dinner you only have so much time before they will lose interest and perhaps make the dining experience not as enjoyable as you have hoped. Depending on the age of the children, long waits for a table can ruin a night out. As part of lowering your expectations, you may have to get to a popular restaurant earlier than you normally would to lessen the wait time. If you are going to a restaurant that takes reservations, make them. Time is of the essence though so do everything you can to make most of your time eating and enjoying your dinner rather than waiting in the lobby.
If you do have to wait for a table, bringing a coloring book or other simple activity can salvage the evening for everyone. The value of "I spy" is unprecedented in these times.
Save Something For Last
To make your dining experience enjoyable, save something great for the end of the meal. Usually this means dessert but not always. Be sure to let the kids know that if dinner goes great, there is something waiting for them at the end that they surely do not want to miss. This could be a trip to the video store to pick out a move, a walk around a play area that exists in most strip malls or just plain old ice cream after dinner. This will give your kids incentive and you get to have some fun too.
So many parents tend to put their children in situations where the children are doomed to fail. And then neither the children nor the parents enjoy their night out. Why bother? Take your kids to a restaurant they will enjoy and you will enjoy the evening as well. There are some great restaurants out there that have good food in a kid friendly environment. If you choose well, these restaurants will become part of your routine and you and the kids will look forward to going to them.
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