You can thank us later for these tried and true tips for taking kids out to eat!
You may not know this about me yet, but I secretly consider myself a foodie. I love basically every type of food and I love trying new things I never have before! My husband is the same way, so going out to eat to celebrate special occasions or to unwind and de-stress has always been one of our favorite things to do together… until we had kids. Any parent knows that eating a meal in peace while young kids are awake can be difficult to say the least! Even at home we would usually take turns eating or wait until the kids were down before feeding ourselves. Eventually though we realized what worked and what didn’t work when it came to taking our young kids out to eat successfully, and it has become a really special bonding experience for our family, which we love. Here are a few things we’ve learned over the years!
1. How to entertain them while you wait for food.
2. How to find restaurants that have a play area
3. How to find restaurants where kids eat free!
TIMING IS EVERYTHING
Timing is everything when it comes to going anywhere with kids, but even more when you’re going out to eat. We try to plan ahead when we’re going out so that we can arrange naps so that (hopefully) no one is super sleepy or grumpy. This may seem obvious, but make sure your kids will be HUNGRY. If they are, then when everyone’s meals come there is a good chance you will have a few minutes to all enjoy your food together. If you stuff them full of snacks in the hour beforehand, they will likely not be hungry enough to care about the food.
PICK A KID-FRIENDLY RESTAURANT
A RESTAURANT WITH A PLAY AREA IS ALWAYS GOOD
When we were new parents, one of the most stressful things about going out to eat was worrying about distracting other guests. We have since learned that some nicer restaurants are just not the place to attempt a family outing when you have little ones. When we go out to eat now we try to choose family friendly places where a little noise is not a foreign concept.
As for finding a restaurant with a play area – I’m not saying you should only eat at Chick Fil A or McDonald’s. There are some great sit-down restaurants with play areas too! Do a quick google search for places in your area that have a playground. You might be surprised with what you find!
ALWAYS BE PREPARED
I have lived through two absolute NIGHTMARE situations at restaurants. I’ll spare you the gory details, but suffice it to say both times have involved not having a diaper or wipes on hand when we needed one. Never will I EVER make that mistake again. Wipes are nearly as important as diapers, because it seems my children can’t eat anything without getting it up to their elbows and I think one wipe can do the job of 25 napkins.
HOW DO YOU ENTERTAIN KIDS AT A RESTAURANT? PLAY GAMES
Even if you aren’t at a nice restaurant there is typically a wait time between when you arrive at the restaurant and when you get your food, so we always play a game together while we wait. It helps the time pass and keeps the littles in their seats.
GAMES TO PLAY AT A RESTAURANT WITH KIDS
A few favorites for us are I Spy, Pictionary, and the question game. We just take turns asking random questions like: “who is Dad’s mom?” and whoever answers first gets a point. The kids get to ask questions too. The great thing about any of these games is they can easily be adapted based on your kids’ ages. We have so many fun memories of playing these games with our kids. The things they come up with can be hilarious. It gets me every time.
FIND RESTAURANTS WHERE KIDS EAT FREE!
As our family has grown, going out to dinner has obviously become more expensive. We have learned that tons of restaurants have special deals for kids which makes going out to eat affordable. Plus, if things go south you don’t have to feel too bad because you didn’t spend an arm and a leg! Here is a great list of over 50 restaurants that have “kids eat free” deals listed by day of the week!