Five Tips Friday: Eating out with young kids

There was a time when we didn't even consider having a proper meal out of home. From the time Little Dude was a baby, we only had occasional meals outside. When he started crawling and walking, it became altogether impossible to sit down and eat in any restaurant. Thankfully, things have gotten a little better since he turned three.

It's not like we don't have problems, but in the end, we all are happy with our meals, and it's all that matters! It's certainly not easy to eat out with young, excitable and active kids, but I feel that they should be exposed to the experience of dining in restaurants and appreciate it.

Five tips to make dining out easier with young kids.

Here are my tips for eating out with young children:

1. Scout for family-friendly restaurants

This may seem like an obvious thing to do, but you don't have to have your meals at McDonald's and Chuck E Cheese's until the kids grow up! There are many restaurants which may not publicize themselves as such, but welcome children. Obviously, these aren't fine dining restaurants, but they serve good food, have special menus for kids, and even give them something to do while waiting for their food to arrive. Ask around, or read reviews to find the family-friendly restaurants in your area. Don't be afraid to try new cuisines. The kids menu usually has kids' favourites, despite what cuisine the restaurant normally serves.

2. Eat along with the kids

I have often made the mistake of making sure Little Dude has had most of his food before settling down for my own. It doesn't work! What happens when kids are done with their meals is that they want to go home, or do anything but sit there. It's a different story if the restaurant has a play space for kids, but then you're probably having fast food anyway. Try to have your meal together with the kids, even if it takes longer.

3. 'Plan' your meal

Have a quick peek at the restaurant's menu online, and at least shortlist what you will order for yourself and 'suggest' for your child. This is a real time saver. And you know you need to waste as little time as possible when your kids have sat down to eat, and will probably not wait for long.

4. Avoid using screens

It's the easy way out, but really, avoid taking along a tablet to distract your kid while eating. This really does take away from the whole purpose of dining out, and can be disturbing to other diners. If you really need distractions (and you must be prepared, if the food takes time to arrive), bring along a busy bag or puzzle.

5. Give a pre-meal snack, if needed

We often under-estimate how long it actually takes to drive down to a restaurant, be seated, and place an order before it arrives. Either plan it so you reach exactly at your child's meal time, or be prepared for whining. Kids get unusually hungry when out and about. I prefer giving a small snack like a few bites of fruit before we head out to eat, especially if I anticipate a delay. It really helps in keeping them satiated for a while.

Five Tips Friday is a series of posts on five quick tips 
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TheL's Mum said...

Great tips. My little boy is 2 and so it's difficult to eat out with him at the moment, especially as he is a little fussy. Hopefully it won't be long until we can indulge in that again. #sharewithme

Mama MKDPR said...

Great tips. I wouldn't have thought to bring a snack but it's a great idea. Sometimes food takes an age to arrive and even I am hungry.

dont call me stepmum said...

Brilliant tips, especially the snack one. We had to leave once because the babies just got so bored as it was busy. To be fair we've not been out with them there since, it must've put us off. They behave so nicely sat down for the first 40 minutes then they've had enough xxx Thanks for sharing #sharewithme

Merlinda Little said...

There was a time when my son slapped me hard in Ikea. I remember that vividly. Its our fault for making him too tired and yet it hurts my pride. Since then we follow some rules like not making my son too tired. The tips here are nice and are really helpful too! #sharewithme

Tarana said...

We had that stage too. It'll get better, trust me!

Tarana said...

Yes, it always takes longer than you'd think!

Tarana said...

It really depends on how old they are. Sometimes, they just can't sit for that long!

Tarana said...

That must have been tough for you. Yes, they do get tired easily when out and about.

Eat Like You Love Yourself said...

Joining in from #pocolo. I found when my son was a toddler that ordering some food for me that had elements he might like to try was a real winner. It led to less going on the floor and him being more engaged with the whole process.

Victoria Welton said...

What a great bunch of tips. I totally and utterly agree with number 4! Thankfully Grace has always been well-behaved at restaurants. I remember an old lady complimenting me on her behaviour once. Grace must have been around 18 months old. Thank you for linking to #PoCoLo x

Merlinda Little said...

it took me awhile to get over the slap =(

But I understand him now. And have learned a lot from that incident.

Tarana said...

This is such a great idea!

Tarana said...

That's great! Some kids are easier to eat out with.

Let's Talk Mommy said...

Great tips, always good to know what to expect and be prepared for when you go out with the kids. We eat out a lot with ours and so they usually are used to it and pretty good. Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me. Hope to see you again tomorrow. #sharewithme

Tarana said...

Yes, they do get used to it if you go out often!

Melissa Matters said...

Great tips! We try to go to nicer restaurants during the slow hours so it's a shorter wait.

Tarana said...

That's a good idea too!

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