The Globe and Mail recently published this article: 12 Secrets for Dining Out with Kids. There are a few good ideas in there (and a few good laughs).
B has almost always come almost everywhere with us – one of the things that’s definitely a little bit easier with an only child, I know. Because of this, she’s been pretty well trained to handle herself in restaurants. But I *always* come (over) prepared. For us, this means lots of quiet toys + activities, a set of kids’ dishes + cutlery (just in case what the restaurant has isn’t suitable – and I keep them in a wet bag so I can throw them back in my bag dirty), lots of wipes just in case, a few emergency snacks, and usually a booster seat in the car that we can grab if necessary. We try to choose family friendly places to begin with, which makes a big difference. We go early, because it seems unfair to expect a kid to behave in a strange situation so close to bedtime. We make reservations whenever we can (even if eating out was a spontaneous decision and I’m just calling from the car on our way). And I always preview the menu online so we can order quickly, and we talk with B about what to expect (and she often pre-selects what she’d like to eat so it doesn’t turn into a big thing at the restaurant).
When she was little, those Cheerios books were a godsend (a snack AND something fun to do!). When she got a little bit bigger, it was all about the colouring. Now, colouring is still cool but I’ll admit that we sometimes bring her LeapPad along… In case of emergency, it’s AMAZING how much time you can pass playing I Spy or searching for different letters and numbers in a menu – no equipment required.
Does it always go perfectly? Of course not… SHE’S THREE. But we’ve done everything we can to help make it a success – and we’re learning something new to help the next time go a little bit better.
Do you eat out with your kids? Where have you had good experiences? Have you developed any secret weapons to help ensure it goes smoothly?