Time to gather the kids together and tell them you’re all going out to dinner at one of the finest restaurants in town. Then what do you do?
Should you just pile everyone into the family car and go to what could turn out to be a very pleasant event together? On the other hand, it could be a disaster for the family, as well as everyone else in the restaurant. If your kids are very, very well trained and are always on their best behavior, nothing more need to be done.
However, if they’re like most normal kids with impish and creative minds, there are a few tips you can offer them to make the restaurant experience pleasant, or at least bearable.
1. Assuming you’ve already trained your kids in the basics of behavior in public, gather together one more time before leaving the house to remind them again of your parental expectations. Then the dinner expedition begins.
2. If you come to the restaurant with very young kids and others who may cry or shout, ask the maitre d’ to seat your family in an all-adult area away from those diners. Further, if during the meal one or more of your kids cries loudly, a parent must leave the table immediately with the kid for a rest room or hallway until the noise subsides. If a diaper change is necessary, do it before returning to the table.
3. Once settled at the restaurant table and waiting for service, keep the kids seated, allow no running around nor loud shouting. As a way of keeping fidgety kids in place, ask the waiter to promptly bring them appetizers and other light items from the kids’ menu. This may allow the adults to enjoy a before-dinner drink, and then all can order the main courses together.
4. Enjoy the meal together with quiet conversation. If a kid doesn’t want to eat what arrives from the kitchen, don’t make a big deal and insist on it. If agreeable, share food with others in the family, or order something different. When everyone is finished with the meal, order simple desserts.
5. If the kids begin to become restless, or if the restaurant is crowded and people are waiting, don’t linger. Pay the bill promptly and depart. If the drive home is longer than a few minutes, be sure all family members who need to use the restaurant restroom will go there before you leave.
Helpful tips when eating out with kids can all be combined into one. Just use common sense when the family gathers to enjoy a meal and each other’s company in a restaurant.