Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The secret to dining out with little ones

During the first 18 months of our girls' lives we ate at a restaraunt a grand total of three times, I believe.  The girls did well each time, or at least well enough, but we were still afraid to make it a routine occurence until they were a little older.

Vacation caused us to press the issue. 

Over the course of five days we ate almost every single meal either at a restaraunt or in the hotel breakfast area.

We packed everything we needed such as forks, spoons, bibs, and wipes.  The one thing we didn't have were our high chairs.

Even when we eat out in town we take those travel high chairs as they are, in my opinion, the greatest chairs ever.

Since we were such a long way from home we didn't take them with us. 

Once again the girls adapted wonderfully to everything we threw at them.  Along the way we learned a few little tricks I thought I would share.  I might have mentioned how much I enjoy a good list, so here we go:

1 - When you order food, don't order anything for yourself unless you think know the children will eat it.  Order more of the smaller dishes off the children's menu and let them eat what they will.  You, then, get to be the parent that finishes everything they don't.  Obviously, you can tell them there are starving children in Africa that would gladly eat what they won't, but I don't think that line is as effective as it once may have been.

2 - Most every place will have some sort of children's size cup that comes with a lid and a straw.  As long as your kiddos know how to drink through a straw (very similar to a sippy cup, though a bit easier) you should be good.  BONUS - you now have more cups to drink from at home - cups they will most likely not be able to break.  And if they do?  So what - it was free.

3 - For us, fruit is a good "go-to" food as the girls will almost always dig right in.  It's also a lot healthier than a side of fries or onion rings, so make the substitution where you can - assuming your little ones like fruit.  Also, fruit can be eaten immediately, but you'll have to wait for a piping hot plate of food to cool down.

4 - Find places that are at least semi-kid friendly.  They don't need to have a playground, but any place that has paper table cloths and crayons counts.  Don't let them fill up on crayon appetizers, but feel free to let them scribble on anything that should be scribbled on.

5 - Try to get a table in a place that will bother the least amount of other diners as possible - just in case your little angels become little demons.  It's just a consideration thing.  The other people eating there are paying for their meal as well, so try to be aware of them when planning your outing.

6 - If you aren't sure how they're going to act, and if it works with your schedule, try going to eat a little earlier than the normal crowd.  Eating with the blue-hairs is not a bad option.  Not only have they probably been in your same position at some point in their lives, but since they don't hear very well your children can be as loud as they want and still not disturb them!

Six is not a very good number for items in a list, but for now it will have to do.  If you have any other thoughts to add I would love to hear them - and put them to use when we head out next.


Derek Aldrich said...

Very good ideas, I like the first picture. :D

None really to add. Other than choose a place where you know they will like to eat.

MandyE (Twin Trials and Triumphs) said...


Whenever possible, I research the menu beforehand. I like to be able to order the girls' food as soon as possible. And I don't always order from the children's menu...I know our girls like shrimp scampi or baked fish, for example, so they can usually split an adult-sized meal. (And it's funny to gauge the server's face when you don't order the burger and fries!)

Glad you had some positive experiences. Hope you'll be able to incorporate more dining out in the future. We try to get out with our girls once a week (rarely more often), as I want them to be accustomed to a restaurant environment.