The following post is written by a guest blogger from a parent’s perspective. We though it a good idea for restaurant owners to read it too, especially for those who want to create a family friendly atmosphere.
The tips in this post can be used by everyone, so instead of having the parents carry items with them to any restaurant they happen to find, you can make it easier for them by having things ready for at yours. This will also mean that your restaurant will be first on their list when choosing where to go for dinner with the kids.
A little Whine with your Dine?
After a long week of carpooling, chauffeuring the kids around to all their activities, cooking, cleaning, and oh yeah and working, then like me you can’t wait to go out to eat on Saturday night. Oh… but wait, the dreaded complaints from your children and their disturbing behavior is enough to want to just order in.
If you’re like me though, you just want to have one night free of cleaning up afterwards, and a night to just dress up and get out of the house. With two kids, babysitting is just too expensive, and I don’t know a whole lot of people who are willing to take on our children = 2 fighting siblings.
However, I must say eating out has finally become a little less of a chore. My children are only 22 months apart. Ya, try taking two toddlers out to eat, with one that can’t stay still if his life depended on it, and another who screams bloody murder if “Queen Elizabeth” doesn’t get her way. And yes her name really is Elizabeth and the shoe fits all too well. Funny enough, my son’s name is Andrew. But he in no way acts like a Prince.
So what do you do when you want to eat out with uncontrollable children? It’s all about distractions baby! Being prepared for all types of behavior doesn’t hurt too. I usually brought in a suitcase filled with activities. Okay, okay a little bit of an exaggeration, but you get my point.
- First things first… do yourself a favor and utilize the restaurants’ furniture. Say what? That’s right, Choose the Appropriate Seating. Sitting in the biggest restaurant booth is the best and most important advice I can give you. Have your kids sit closest to the booths wall, one on each side, and have a parent on each side trapping them in. Oh yes that’s right sister, I said Traaappp those suckers in. This will keep your marathon runners imprisoned as much as possible and your fidgety kiddo’s a little less squirmy. Sitting at regular tables say to your children PARTY TIME!
- Be prepared! Bring everything but the kitchens sink with you in your diaper bag or backpack. Bring coloring books, travel-sized Play Dough, a travel-sized Magna Doodle, play money, books, baggie of snacks, the list goes on and on. I will tell you one of the best things we brought with us were Leap Frogs systems. This would keep them very entertained for hours. I would suggest putting away at least 3 games, and bring them out only while at places where they need to behave. Otherwise they’ll be used to the same games and this won’t distract them. We also loved bringing portable DVD players. What I used to do, is record shows on my DVD recorder like Hannah Montana and Blue Clues (their favorite shows at the time) and then let them watch an hour and a half worth of episodes, or however many minutes you need them to stay entertained.
- Who said bribery is wrong? Well I don’t like to think of it as bribery. I like to think of it more on the lines of Positive Reinforcement. Kids will be kids, and they just wanna have fun. I would tell my children as we were unloading out of the car, that if they would behave while in the restaurant, we would take them to the park afterwards, or out for ice cream or rent a movie of their choice. When they started misbehaving, I quickly threatened to take away their reward for best behavior.
I hope those ideas work for you and your family. I know I would have checked-in at a mental hospital without them; which at the time, seemed like it might have been a nice vacation. Don’t stress yourselves out; be prepared when going out to eat.
If you’re prepared the moment you step foot out the door with your bag of staples, you can go anywhere. Not just to a restaurant but other places where proper behavior is expected, like doctor’s offices, the bank, stores, and especially Church!
Allie is a mother of 2 wacky fun loving children. She’s a full time mom but works part time as a nurse. With hectic schedules she understands all too well how not being prepared takes its toll. If you like Allie’s writing you can hire her as a guest blogger. She can be reached via her blog at http://fantasticallypedtastic.blogspot.com/