How to Take Kids Out to Eat
We have 3 boys (ages 6, 4, and almost 2) and going out to eat can be challenging. We go out to eat maybe twice a month in a sit-down restaurant – nothing fancy with candles or quiet and peaceful music – lol! I don’t feel like we have completely mastered the art of eating out with little kids, but we’re getting there. Believe it or not, there are some tips we’ve found to make the adventure enjoyable!
(1) Go out to eat before the kids get hungry and tired. Being hungry and tired is a bad combination I’ve found in the men in my life. For my husband, he gets growly when he’s hungry and tired, so I just keep my distance until he’s eaten or had sleep. With my boys, when they get hungry and tired, they get loud, hyper, and out of control. So, to have a successful eating out experience, it’s ideal to go before the dinner rush. Any time from 4:30-5:00 is good on the weekend. 5:30 seems to be when people make their dinner rush to restaurants around town. During the week, I try to give them a light snack before going out to eat.
(2) Order ahead of time. This is one of the best ways we’ve found eating out to be successful when going to familiar restaurants. We’ve done this with PF Changs, Terriyaki, and other restaurants. We have the Internet and can access the menu online. We call the restaurant from the road (unless it’s up the street, then we call from home) and place our order. When we get to the restaurant, we are seated and our food arrives in 5 minutes or less. This is great to do during the weedays. I wouldn’t recommend doing it at big restaurants (i.e. PF Changs) during the weekends.
(3) Bring coloring books and crayons. You can either call ahead to see if the restaurant has a children’s menu and crayons or bring your own. When kids get bored, mischief happens. In a restaurant, there are tons of opportunities for mischief, including pulling sugar packets out of the container and scattering them on the table and floor, shaking salt and pepper shakers on the table or floor, digging ice out of the cup of ice water, sliding off the seat under the table and trying to escape to explore the new surroundings, and making lots of noise.
(4) Bring a snack. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve ordered and it seems like an eternity before the food actually comes to the table. To avoid having the kids get into things, I try to remember to put snacks in the diaper bag. Snacks include Goldfish, pretzels, Cheez-Its, and Honey Nut Cheerios. I give each boy his own bag (1 for George as well – lol) and this seems to hold them over until the meal comes.
(5) Order for the kids first. If you aren’t sure what you want, order for the kids first, look through the menu, and then order your entree when the server returns. This way, the kids will have their food sooner and can start eating instead of getting into things.
Like I said, I have not perfected the art of eating out with kids, but have found these tips to be helpful to our family. What are your tips for eating out in a restaurant with kids?