Some nights, no matter how much you plan, all you want to do is escape your house and the responsibilities of cooking and cleaning up. Dining out is a great time to invite another family to join you! Here are some tips to make it enjoyable and minimize the craziness!
Pick a Time
First step is to pick the time that’s best for your kids. For us, we’ve found that’s either lunch or an early dinner (like getting to the table at 4:30 or 4:45 so the food arrives shortly after 5). Just because you didn’t make arrangement way in advance, doesn’t mean you can’t invite another family to join you. I figure as long as you’re giving about an hour notice, there’s a good chance you’ll find another family that’s game to tag along!
Pick the Right Restaurant
I think we all know that certain restaurants are a better match for families. There is nothing worse than picking a stuffy restaurant and then have your kids be in a difficult mood. Unless a restaurant bills itself as family friendly, I strongly discourage you from test driving a new place with your kids and another family in tow. Some things that make for a good family restaurant are kid activities like a playground or arcade game area. Or a restaurant with a lot of interesting décor on the walls. This can provide endless games “I Spy” or counting or naming the different things you see. Buffets are also great for kids because you don’t have to wait on the food and you never have the problem of the kids not wanting to eat what they ordered when it finally appears on the table.
Pack for Success
A lot can ride on how prepared you are to be at a restaurant. I have had great success with bringing paint-with-water sets and magnetic drawing boards. I know a lot of establishments provide crayons to color with but I find I spend more time fishing those off the yucky ground then my kids spend coloring with them. I know other families who swear by Playdoh. I really like to have an assortment of vehicles to drive all over the table. It’s also a good idea to have your phone well charged and set up with kid friendly apps and videos. We don’t do a lot of phone time with our kids but we really take advantage of it in these situations. I also like to bring bendy straws (most places provide straight straws) which help prevents spilling, disposable bibs and lots of wipes.
Get Things Moving
The best distraction for kids at a restaurant is food. See if your server is able to bring you a basket of fries or some other kid friendly food right away, this will ward off wiggles more than anything else. If the adults can have reviewed the menu in advance to have a rough idea of their order that will help too. You could even tell your server that you’d like to have the kids’ food come out as soon as it’s ready even if you have to wait on the adult food.
Remember, the whole point, of inviting another family along to this craziness is to reconnect with the other adults. Don’t let yourself be too busy entertaining kids to forget to chit-chat with everyone else. If your kids are being challenging, you might consider trading on and off with your spouse so one gets the chance to visit while the other keeps the masses entertained.
What do you do to have a positive restaurant experience with kids? Do you like to go out to eat with others? Do you have favorite places you like to go with your kids? I’d love to know what you’re doing!
I’m an old soul and I love traditional entertaining! I think it absolutely has a place in modern hospitality. I love planning large get togethers, with full sit down meals that include dessert. Getting the invites out weeks in advance. But, it’s also 2017 and I have two toddlers, so sometimes I have to throw out my grandmother’s rule book and find new ways to connect with people. I’m still the hostess, I’m arranging the avenue through which people are reconnecting, but it just doesn’t look like you’d think. This series focuses on thinking outside of the box when it comes to entertaining.
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