Ever find yourself avoiding restaurants and dining with kids like the plague? Kids, especially toddlers can be unpredictable. I like to compare mine to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. One moment they are perfect angels, the next, terrorizing everyone in site. And dining with kids can be an overwhelming and stressful experience.
For a more enjoyable restaurant experience try these 5 tips.
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I like to pack a few light snacks for a couple reasons. You never know how long the wait is for a table, or how long it will take to receive your meal. Having a few snacks on hand is great in many situations and this is no different. This will occupy your toddler and aid in keeping them calm until their food arrives.
Do not request kids’ food come out first
This was a hard lesson for us to learn. For the longest time, we would request the kids’ food be brought out as soon as possible. We would even order their food as soon as we sat down. Big mistake! While kids can take a long time to eat, we often found ourselves dealing with bored toddlers before we had an opportunity to eat. This is where the snacks come in, let them buy you time while you wait for the main course.
Make it a game
One thing my daughter loves to do is play with the condiments. It is insanely frustrating when you turn around to a table covered in salt. We have started making a counting and sorting game with the sugar and sugar substitute packets. Careful not to abuse the packets, however, as someone will use them later on.
I like to pack small toys I know will keep the kids entertained. I love the Melissa & Doug Water Wow activity books. They’re easy to pack up and there is no clean-up.
Kids thrive on being outside. When our toddlers get too antsy, one of us will take them outside. A walk around the restaurant or even just sitting outside until the food arrives will drastically reduce their meltdowns and hyperactivity.
Do not allow children to wander
This is a hard one for us to enforce. Our oldest takes a few bites then instantly wants to get up and dance. This usually causes us to leave quickly. It is safer for children to remain in their seat. Servers could trip potentially dropping food or hurting the child or themselves. Additionally, this can be disruptive to the diners at the next table.
What are some of your tips and tricks for dining with kids?