Before we become parents, many of us imagine lovely family lunches in our favourite restaurants. We picture taking the kids out for family events and dinners with our friends. In these fantasies, everyone is happy. The kids are eating, everyone is chatting and enjoying themselves. The reality is often a little different. We’ve all had bad experiences eating out with kids. We’ve booked a table in our favourite restaurant, only to spend the whole time begging the kids to eat, tidying up their mess, and struggling to keep them entertained and quiet. These dining experiences are horrible. We feel guilty, worried that we’re creating more work for the staff and upsetting other diners. We get stressed out, which only makes things worse, and everyone leaves unhappy and even hungry.
It doesn’t have to be like this. Eating out with kids can be enjoyable, and even fun. Here are some tips to help you have better eating out experiences with your family.
Find the Right Restaurant
In the ideal world, you’d be able to take the kids anywhere and have a nice time. This isn’t the ideal world. Not all restaurants are family-friendly. They don’t all have an atmosphere that suits families, and they certainly don’t all have a great kid’s menu.
Try to find somewhere like fratelli-italian.co.uk that has a fantastic kid’s menu and a welcoming atmosphere. Then, stick to it for a while. If eating in the same place most of the time means peaceful, relaxed experiences, why not?
Find a Screen Rule That Works for You
Before we have kids, most of us looked at kids in restaurantsplaying on phones or tablets in horror. We proudly announce that our own children will never be glued to a screen in public like that. That our families will speak to each other without the need for distractions.
For some families, this works. For others, it’s a mistake. Think back to your own childhood. Did you spend the time waiting for meals chatting with your parents, or colouring at the table? Kids aren’t great at waiting, there have always been distractions, they’ve just evolved. Try without screens by all means, but ask yourself if it really matters that much as long as devices are put away and conversations enjoyed once the food arrives?
Relax the Rules
At home, you might have strict rules on what your children should and shouldn’t eat. You might also try to stick to healthy eating yourself. When you eat out, you are more likely to indulge, so why shouldn’t your children? Pick your battles, relax the rules, and let them enjoy themselves.
At home, you might eat fairly close to bedtime. When you are out of the house, this might be a mistake. Tired kids are more likely to be fussy and irritable, and less likely to eat well. Restaurants also tend to be busier and louder later on, which can be scary for young children. Eat earlier than you usually would for a more peaceful experience.
Eating out with kids can be wonderful. But even when you’ve cracked it, and your kids love eating out, there will be bad times. Don’t let one bad meal or experience put you off.