Dining out with your family is a great way to bond over food and share memories. Unfortunately, things don't always go as planned and can become stressful. Follow these tips to help children learn proper dining behavior in restaurants.
1. Give your children a small snack before heading out.
The purpose of this is to take the edge off their behavior, especially if it's a first-time restaurant. There's always a chance they won't like the restaurant's version of mac and cheese.
2. Try to avoid restaurants with long wait times.
On weekends, brunch and dinner are always crowded at busy restaurants, so arrive early. Children can easily become bored while waiting for a table and may behave in an uncontrollable manner. Avoid restaurants with long wait times or make reservations in advance to make your family dinner more enjoyable.
3. If possible, request a seat in a corner or the back of the restaurant.
While most restaurants handle this automatically, it's still a good idea to ask. It will be easier to avoid disturbing other diners by not sitting in the middle of the room.
4. Order as soon as possible.
Before your children do anything else, nail down their order so you are ready to order when the waiter/waitress arrives. Also, try to avoid appetizers since they only prolong the meal. Lastly, decide on dessert at the end of the meal after sizing up everyone's mood and energy level.
5. Take your children on a trip to the restroom.
After you order food, let your children potty and/or wash their hands. It will give them a chance to stretch their legs, practice good hygiene, and avoid interrupting the meal.
6. Try a game or activity.
It is always a smart idea to carry crayons and paper with you. It can also be useful to give them a small book to flip through.
7. Be creative while waiting.
A simple game such as "I Spy" can be a great way to distract your kids. Make some words with sugar packets or take them to the waiting area fish tank for some fun.
8. Try brunch over dinner if you need a fancy meal.
Buffet brunches are popular, and your children will be able to see the food before deciding what to eat. In addition, this time of day is easy to fit in right before the afternoon nap.
9. If things aren't going well, take it to go
In case all else fails, you can always take your meal home to enjoy later. Although this is not an ideal situation, you may find it more relaxing once you get home rather than eating in public with stress.
10. Always leave a generous tip.
It's especially important if your children were messy or disruptive. It is always appreciated by the staff if you try to make up for your many requests, especially if it is a restaurant you frequent.