Jonny and I have always loved going out to eat. It’s so much fun, and the whole “no cooking or cleaning up” thing isn’t too bad, either 🙂
Once we started having kids, though, we quickly realized eating out was not as fun as it once was. How are you supposed to enjoy your meal when you’re wrangling hungry and grumpy kiddos?
We’ve learned a lot in the past few years, and I’m happy to report that we’ve got a much better handle on things than we used to. No more toddlers doing forwards flips off of their chair and into the middle of the dining room at Olive Garden…
Here’s a list of some of the things we do to make sure eating out is still fun!
1. Check the menu ahead of time, so you go into the restaurant already knowing what you want. The quicker you can get in and out of there, the better! Spending time trying to decide what to eat = restless, bored kiddos.
2. Bring snacks! This might seem silly, because you’re going out to eat. Trust me, it can be a life saver. If your little monkey is hungry and restless, snacks will most likely be the best distraction. As a plus, if you fill them up on healthy snacks while you’re waiting for your food, they won’t eat a full meal! That means you don’t have to dish out the $$ for a kids meal, and you can share a little bit of your meal.
3. Along with snacks, make sure to bring some toys as well. The more distractions, the better! Play little games with them, involve them in conversations, and keep them engaged so they don’t get bored and mischievous.
4. Ask to be seated in a booth. For us, it’s always much easier to wrangle feisty toddlers in a booth than in chairs. You can block them in, and prevent them from escaping 🙂
5. Take walks around the restaurant (or even outside!) while waiting for your food. The less time they spend waiting and sitting, the happier they are!
6. Servers are trained to wait until all of the meals are ready before they bring out your food. Kids meals tend to take less time, so the food might be waiting under a hot light until the rest of the food is done. There’s no reason to not let your hungry kiddos dig in, especially because they usually take longer to eat than everyone else. Just ask your server to bring out the kids meals as soon as they’re ready!
7. Make sure you bring plenty of wet wipes with you. Spills happen. They just do. Napkins just don’t do a great job at cleaning up sticky fingers, and what if you run out?! Disaster.
8. Ask for your check as soon as you get your food. Sometimes, you just need to make a quick escape. There’s nothing worse than trying to bolt from a restaurant, but you can’t leave because you’re waiting for your check! I like to get everything paid and settled before we ever finish our food. That way, if we need to make a hasty getaway, we can 🙂