I used to dread going out to eat with my kids. My husband and I would just spend the entire time taking one bite of our meal, helping the kids eat their meals, cleaning up and chasing after them once they had finished their meal!
It got to a point where I thought, ‘there has to be a better way’ and there can be. I love taking my kids out to eat now. With a little preparation, eating out can be an enjoyable experience.
Here are my 6 tips for eating out with young children:
- Book a table (and request high chairs if you need them) for an early time slot like 11:30am for lunch or 5:30pm or 6pm for dinner. Setting the kids up at the table can take some time so it’s good to get in early, get settled and order before anyone gets hangry!
- Look at the menu beforehand online and see if there are good options for the kids and pick some together. Do this for yourself as well. This will make the ordering process quicker and the waiting time over sooner.
- Tell them about the lunch or dinner plans. Talk about who will be there or what you might see on the way there. Get excited and they’ll excited too!
- Take snacks and activities – that will keep them occupied while waiting for the food to come out. Don’t be afraid to bring the iPads as a back-up plan. You know what works for your kids and they can just put the iPad away once the food comes.
- If the kids still have naps during the day, see if you can encourage an earlier nap. If they’re more likely to nap in the car, go for an afternoon drive before dinner. A tired kid is a cranky and unpredictable kid. So if a nap isn’t possible at all, be flexible with your expectations which leads to number 6.
- Let go of expectations. This can be hard to do at first because all we want is to have a nice family dinner out. The quickest way to frustration is having expectations of how the kids should behave, how the night should go but if you can be open and flexible, you will less reactive and perhaps even have fun.
Do you have any tips for eating out with kids?