Before we had children, we loved eating out. I mean, everyone does right? Going out for dinner, lunch, breakfast! And then when we had Alice, we sort of stopped for a bit. I think we were scared. Scared of the practicalities of trying to eat our own food, feed her, keep her entertained and stop her from throwing a tantrum. But after a while, we realised that eating out was something that was inevitable and something we would have to just... figure out! Days out meant that lunch was usually the one we couldn't avoid. Nowadays, i feel a lot more relaxed at the though of eating out with the kids. Don't get me wrong, they still tantrum and sometimes they won't eat anything, but I think we've got a few tips up our sleeves for any parents who have yet to try it!
Here we go:
1. Try to choose somewhere child friendly. You'll know this by asking if there is a children menu or by spotting the pile of highchairs in the corner! Or from the noise. Child friendly places are always more noisy!
2. Choose a seat by the door if you have a buggy/ baby. Or by the toilets if you have a toddler who has just been potty trained. If neither are available... then by a wall. Tables in the middle of the room are always tricky because everyone wants to get past you and your kids have more escape exits!
3. Order the cheque with your meal. They will do this for you and it saves all the faffing around at the end of the meal, when all you really want to do is get out of there!
4. Immediately cut everything up for your children the second the food arrives. It will be hot, and your job is to cool it down asap!
5. Milk and water are always available at any restaurant, even if they are not on the menu!
6. Tag team! Take it in turns to eat your meal while the other sorts out the children! That way no one goes hungry!
7. Bring toys. I know you'll read things from parents going, "meal time should be talking/sharing time" but honestly... just bring some quiet simple toys for the table. You'll thank me for it!
8. Don't get stressed if your child tantrums. If worst comes to worst, you have to leave. Oh well. Never mind. Brush it off, and go out again next time. Just because it didn't work out that time, doesn't mean it won't the next time. Don't let it put you off!!
9. Get there before the rush. If your kids normally eat at 12pm, get there at 11. By the time the food has arrived, they'll be hungry, and hopefully you'd have missed the busiest time!
10. You are on a time limit. Just accept it. It doesn't mean the whole thing has to be one big rush, but like I said, order straight away. Ask for the cheque when your food arrives. Leave once everyone has finished, don't hang about. Just make it a little snappier than you would if the kids weren't there and it will be a great experience.
I promise it's not as scary as it seems. Eating out if one of our favourite things to do as a family, but like I said, it doesn't always work out! Good luck!