We went out to eat the other night, and had the most successful time of it that we’ve had in a while. I think a few things went just right for that to happen. Here are the things that facilitated an enjoyable evening out with our toddler, although I make no garuantees that these tips will be successful for everyone ,every time.
1. Know your child. Does she get crabby after 5 pm? Go out before then. Does she eschew meat? Don’t go to a burger joint. Does she like to watch people? Go someplace on the busy side. You get the point.
2. Prepare. Look at menus on line before going out, and decide what you will order for your child. If possible, decide what you will eat, too. This expedites the ordering process, especially if you’re indecisive about what to order at restaurants.
3. Prepare your child. I think this is the key thing that helped us this time we went out. I repeated to Sweet Potato before we left home, while in the car, while getting out of the car and right after sitting down at the restaurant, “we are going to eat a meal together and enjoy each other’s company. We are not going to get out of our chairs until it’s time to leave.” The repetition of the preparation phrase seemed to stick, and she didn’t try to get out of her chair.
4. Bring distractions. Bring a book, a small (quiet) toy, or coloring supplies for your child to play with before her meal comes. It’s also good to have some questions ready, i.e. what color is the table cloth? How many people are at that table in the corner? Who did you play with today?
5. Order early. This goes with #2. When your server comes to get your drink order, go ahead and order your child’s food, and ask for it to be sent out right away. If you already know what you want, you can order yours too, although you don’t want to rush the experience too much, right? Otherwise you’d be at McDonald’s.
6. Compromise. I would not normally be okay with my child eating only french fries for supper, but if that’s all she’ll eat at a restaurant, I’ll let her. Her diet is generally very healthy, so one meal that is nutrient deficient is not going to hurt her. The only exception to this would be if you’re eating out several times a week all the time. But really- who does that with a two year old?
I hope you find these helpful for your next time out with kiddos. Veteran moms- do you have any other tips?