Do you enjoy dining out with your kids? While it may not be my first choice of activities, eating out in a restaurant with the kids happens every once in a while. It gets better as they get older, but there are still challenges. You can never predict how your kids will behave.
Since we don’t do it that often, the kids love to go out to restaurants. Especially Mr. B.
Tuesday was his actual birthday, so dining out was exactly what he wanted to do.
What’s so challenging about dining out with your kids?
Let me share an example with you.
Last year at his birthday dinner, one of his brothers hurled a Thomas the Train across our table into the one next to us. Luckily, the guy, who actually caught the train, was a good sport and even guessed which train it was. Some people would not have been so nice.
Plus, there’s the whining, the fighting, and the temptation to run around the table.
But, sometimes you have to do what you have to do.
So, taking into account we were going to be dining with three wild boys, we had to make a plan. Here are some tips I’ve come up with for dining out with your kids. 5 tips to make your night less stressful and more fun for mom and dad.
If you can get reservations somewhere, pick a time when a restaurant is less crowded, or even alert the restaurant you are bringing your kids, you will have a much better experience. Less wait time = Less time to be naughty
Go with the Mood of the Crowd
If you can go after everyone has taken a nap and is in a happy mood, awesome. We try to go to eat around 5 or 5:30 pm because the kids have recently woken up from naps, and it is still a good 2 hours until bedtime, so they won’t be getting cranky towards the end. It doesn’t always work out perfectly, but it gives us a much better chance of success if we have happy campers.
Pick a Family Friendly Spot
This may seem like a given, but even restaurants that say they are for families are not always ideal. Sure, they may have a kid’s menu, but that doesn’t mean your kids will want to sit still there. It needs to be a fun environment that is comfortable.
The restaurant we picked for my son’s birthday was perfect. It was a Pizza place (kids love pizza,) it had live music and a light show (along with other animated objects, like quacking ducks on the wall,) and an arcade, which was in a separate room.
The twins were mesmerized by all the lights and animated objects, and even my oldest was amused. The music was an Organ, and the player took requests. Even though we didn’t request it, one of the first songs he played? The Star Wars theme! Perfect.
Make it a Man on Man Defense
When me and my husband take the three kids out anywhere, it’s stressful. Add in eating in a new place, and I’m ready to turn the car around.
Luckily, we have family close by. My Mom and Dad graciously volunteered to come to dinner with us. They love spending time with their Grandchildren, and having extra adults really helps out.
We each sat near a child, and were able to stop them from tipping over the lemonade about 12 times. It also allowed my husband to take my oldest to play video games, while we stayed listening to the music and dancing with the twins.
I know that not everyone has the luxury of having family near by when they go out with their kids, but on occasion, if you can get a friend to come with and help out by paying for their meal, it might be worth it. I know it helps my stress level, and I can actually enjoy the time rather than worrying.
Don’t overstay your welcome
You’ve all heard the statement, “When the going gets tough…” it’s time to grab one child under each arm and make a quick exit. It’s always better to leave the party before someone goes into meltdown mode, so if you notice it’s getting close to bedtime, just call it a night.
Sure our birthday boy wanted to stay, but luckily, we still had presents to open at home, which was a great bargaining chip. I’m never above bribing my kids to avoid a scene.
If it’s not a birthday or special occasion, bribe them with having dessert at home or a special show or reading a favorite book. Whatever it takes to end the night on a high note.
Overall, this year’s birthday festivities went a lot smoother than years past. I’m not sure if it’s because everyone is getting older, or if we’re just putting into practice what we’ve learned. I’d like to think it’s the latter, but whatever it is, I’ll take it.
So, how was your week? Any dining plans of your own this weekend?