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Taking Your Children to Restaurants

With some preparation and a few strategies, it is possible to take your children out to eat in a restaurant that does not have a fast food service counter. Children need to be taught what behavior is expected of them in restaurants. They cannot be expected to know automatically since some of the rules of restaurant dining are going to be a bit different from home.Your first eating out experiences may have to be fast food so you, as a parent, have an idea of what to be prepared for, and for the child to practice a few rudimentary skills. The hardest thing about eating out is the waiting and minimizing the waiting is the specialty of fast food restaurants. At least if the food is served near instantly, the baby or child only needs to wait for the time it takes for the rest of the family to eat. This makes a good first lesson for a child that may have been permitted to leave the table when finished at home. When children have mastered behaving during the meal itself, a family can venture out to the more family friendly restaurants that have table service. One good way to tell a family friendly restaurant from others is that they will provide high chairs and booster seats, and they have a children's menu. You should be at the restaurant a little before the child's regular dinnertime so that they will not be starving before the food arrives. Regardless of how family-friendly a restaurant may seem, if the service is slow by adult standards, you will be miserable, so opt out of those places. You will want to pack a bag of quiet toys, coloring books and crayons, but these distractions may wear out. One hint for packing toys for a truly critical experience for the child is to pack new or unfamiliar toys for the child. They will be more entertained by something they have never seen, if you have chosen well. It is good to always have a few of these types of toys hidden away for this purpose. Packing snacks has dubious value. If the child eats before their real dinner comes, they will still need to wait while everyone else eats. You will want to have a grandparent or your spouse to come with you for first restaurant lessons. Sometimes if the waiting gets too hard it is helpful for an adult to take the child to the lobby or outdoors for a few minutes for a change of scene. You will need to use this method judiciously because you do not want to be disturbing other diners by walking past their tables frequently. You also do not want to give your child the impression that wandering around the restaurant is acceptable behavior, because it is not. Be certain to remember all your good table manners in the restaurant. Just because someone else is doing the cleaning up is no excuse to play with the food or leave a mess. Be polite to your server, and leave a generous tip if they have tried to accommodate the extra demands of your family. Not every restaurant experience with young children will be a great one. Some days you may have to ask the server to package your food for take-out, and spend more time covering your expectations with your child at home. Do not be discouraged. Every parent has had to deal with a cranky child at one time or another in a public situation. Sooner or later your children will get the hang of restaurant eating. Soon you will both be enjoying eating out as a family.

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