Dining out used to be one of life’s treats. As a new parent, it can be the exact opposite. Of course, let’s not be too downbeat. After you’ve gotten used to the “different” process of dining out with children, you’ll soon be enjoying it again and for a whole host of different, rewarding reasons.
However, it can take time for kids to get used to eating out. Just like you teach manners at the dining table at home, you almost have to rewrite the rulebook when it comes to venturing to other venues.
Bearing this in mind, let’s now take a look at some of the best tips to implement if you are looking to get your young children used to dining out at restaurants.
Your location decision sets the tone
Thinking about dining in that expensive restaurant that you and your other half used to frequent pre-children? Think again.
Location is key during this process, and finding a family-friendly restaurant is central to this. Fortunately, restaurants of this ilk can be varied; they’re not the stereotypical joints that they once were. In other words, nowadays it doesn’t have to be about Happy Meals, you can instead go somewhere like Covent Garden and enjoy some really nice meals in a family-friendly environment.
But, what exactly is this sort of environment? Of course, there’s no Oxford definition, but anything that remotely encourages little people to visit is worth considering. This could be:
- Children’s menus: An obvious one, but it is a giant welcome sign to you and your young family.
- Highchairs: See above. Again, this is proof that a restaurant is more than happy to accommodate you.
- Spacious areas: Like it or not, there will be some chaos, and this is where a big restaurant where you can almost be “out of the way” can be worth its weight in gold.
The list can go on, but hopefully, you understand where we are coming from.
An explanation is key
We don’t need to give you the lowdown on how to teach your child manners, but there’s no doubt that this will be a very different experience for them and there will be testing points.
From our experience, the best way is to offer a brief explanation before you leave the house. Tell them that you are visiting a special place and the food options that are available. Highlight a few of the basic manners and go from there. As much as surprises are a joyful moment in a child’s life, try and outline at least some of the situation, so the meal doesn’t become too overwhelming for them.
Avoid rush hour at all costs
Finally, let’s talk about timing. You can have the best-behaved child in the land, but they’ll be tested to their limits if you visit your restaurant in question at rush hour.
Busy places and young children are never an ideal recipe, and when hunger is thrown into the mix, things can quickly get out of hand. Try and arrive just before, or preferably just after, the peak dining hours so you can prepare for a much more relaxed affair.