8 Tips for eating out with children

Eating out pin

Over the weekend, this little girl turned 10!

For her birthday dinner, she wanted to go out to a local theme restaurant. I, being the awesome mom that I am, forgot the camera. But as we were sitting there waiting, I looked around and realized we were a bit of a novelty. I mean who, in their right mind, takes six seven children out to a restaurant that doesn’t contain fast food and a slide.

We do! And most of the time, it’s an enjoyable experience.

8 tips for eating out with your children

1. Talk to your kids. Make sure before you go, especially if it’s not something you’ve done before, that they understand what is expected of them. Explain that they may have to wait and they will need to be patient.

2. Be prepared for waiting for a table. Think of a few easy games you can play. My kids like to play “I spy”. Games on your phone comes in handy too. It also doesn’t hurt to have a mint or two hanging out in your purse.

3. Check YOUR expectations. Children will still behave like children. They will wiggle and squirm and if you know that in advance, you will be less flustered. You can curtail their wiggles, but be ready for them.

4. For your first time out, pick a more kid-friendly restaurant. IHOP caters well towards children, while a place like Olive Garden is better when your kids are a little more used to the sit-down type restaurant. For the record, my kids LOVE The Olive Garden.

5. Every time won’t be perfect. There have been times that we rushed through dinner because the kids were behaving horribly. Don’t feel bad, it happens to the best of us. Sometimes, those experiences teach us what to do differently next time.

6. Utilize the crayons and kid menus if the restaurant provides them. It’s a great way to distract the kids from the time they spend waiting. It would be nice if you could sit and chat with your hubby, but let’s face it, that will be much easier to do on date night.

7. Watch the drink and before-dinner chip consumption. Depending on the restaurant, they may set out bread, chips, or even popcorn to be enjoyed while you wait. Along with the kid’s drinks, they can fill up fast and then refuse to eat dinner. If they fill up early, you’ll end up fighting them all the way through your meal.

8. Relax and enjoy yourself! It’s easy to be frustrated with the little irritating things your kids may do. But if you sit back, put a smile on your face, and enjoy your kids being kids, it can turn into a nice night out as a family!

Do you go to sit-down restaurants with your kids? What are your suggestions for a smooth and enjoyable meal?

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  1. We have been venturing out more the older Maddie gets, and little by little, we are learning who provides kids coloring stuff and who doesn’t. šŸ™‚
    lizĀ“s last blog post ..My Li&8217l Painter

  2. We have always ventured out with out girls. Even from a very young age. One thing we find entertaining is toys, my oldest daughter loves polly pocket dolls or really anything little. She always has a bag ready for advantures such as a restaurant, church, grocery store, whereever. Our bag has saved our lives a million times. And who could forget stickers! šŸ™‚
    CandiĀ“s last blog post ..Lydia- why wont you answer the phone

  3. We do enough that they are usually just good out of habit and also usually after a big day when they are too tired to run around and ridiculously hungry. Sometimes we order just dessert for the kids instead of wasting money on food they won’t eat. But you have to let the waitress know to bring the dessert with your dinner or that can back fire.
    Diane RobertsonĀ“s last blog post ..My Thoughts For Utah Women

  4. We have always eaten out with the kids. We do so a bit less now, but that is mainly due to the twins still having a very early bedtime.

    1) Go early so that the kids aren’t starving when you get there. No good will come out of a wait for food and a hungry child.

    2) Crayons and paper in the diaper bag for the places that don’t provide them.

    3) If you have toddlers, the disposable plastic placemats that stick to the table are great so you can just put their food on there and not worry about whole plates of food going onto the floor.
    Jen MĀ“s last blog post ..What a Week Month

  5. I still think it is miraculous that you can take them all out and enjoy dinner. I totally agree with the need to check your expectations and to relax. Without those two things, I don’t think survival is possible. I think it is easy to expect them to act in a different way when you are out, but you are right, they are still kids.

  6. It is hard taking the kids out…and I only have 3! When we do go out, it’s always to a kid-friendly restaurant…I wouldn’t want to ruin someone’s fancy night out!

  7. You nailed it here! I always like those pre-dinner munchies to help tide them over, but yes, a little goes a long way.
    blueviolet @ A Nut in a NutshellĀ“s last blog post ..What If

  8. We’ve always taken the kids out to dinner and they do pretty well. It does help to remind ourselves that they aren’t 30. They are going to be fidgety and wiggly sometimes.
    One casual restaurant we go to gives out baskets of peanuts. They are really addictive and if I don’t watch it, the kids are completely full when the food gets there.
    Sometimes, the bribe/promise of dessert helps with behavior.

  9. Great tips, we are starting to venture out more but it is still wild. There is something about two 3 year olds in a restaurant that causes craziness. I don’t know how you do it with 6 of them! I totally agree with your tips. Number 1 is one of my favorites, I do this every time I take them anywhere, it definitely helps.
    JessicaĀ“s last blog post ..New Feature- The Hot Seat

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