Before I had my own children, several of my friends had children who I spent time with. We would spend time in cafes and restaurants with them and I never really thought about how well behaved they were, because they always were really good.
Then when I was pregnant I asked my friend what her secret was and she said start taking them out to eat as soon as they are born. She said getting them used to eating out from an early age was what worked for her, they learnt from a young age that you ordered your food and then you had to wait. Yes, there was the difficult stage where they don’t really understand that, but just ride through the those times and you will come out the other end.
I can really relate to that as we rode through those difficult months with Alice and now at nearly four years old she is great in restaurants. We are in the difficult phase with Holly right now, the time between sitting down and our food arriving is hard at times to keep her entertained and sat still. But as soon as the food arrives she is really good. Plus with Holly being our second child we know it won’t last.
I thought I would share with you my top tips for eating out with children…
- Start Young As I touched on above, I really recommend taking them when they arevyoung. Waiting to take them to a restaurant until they are older, they won’t learn they have to wait and will expect their dinner to arrive instantly.
- Restaurants Choose restaurants that are child friendly. It can make such a difference if you are surrounded by families, you won’t feel on edge if they do start playing up. Let’s be honest we have all been there and no one will be judging you. They will just be grateful that it’s not their turn this time!
- Entertainment A lot of restaurants, especially child friendly ones will give the children some activity things to do. But, don’t rely on this, if I know we will be eating out I pop a notepad in my bag. I also always keep a small pack of crayons in my bag for those emergency moments where they have run out.
- Timing Think ahead at what time your children need to eat and arrive at the restaurant before then, allowing for the time to sit down, order and wait for the food. Avoid rush hour!
- Be Prepared Most of the time you don’t have a long wait for your food to arrive, but there are occasions where a restaurant is busy and your children will be getting hungrier by the minute. I take a box of raisins for my girls to whip out for those moments. They are not filling, but can be a life saver while you wait.
- Relax I know easier said than done, but I have learnt over the years to relax and go with what the children want to do. If that means that I take Alice to the toilet four times while we wait for dinner, that is what I will do. Yes, it’s annoying but does it really matter? It keeps her happy and passes the time. If Holly wants to get out her highchair and walk round the table, it’s not bothering anyone and it means when the food arrives she is happy to go in her highchair.
So, there you go my top tips to eating out with children. Do you take your children out to restaurants? What are your tips?