No more table for two but still looking to satisfy your inner foodie? Dining out with children is possible, no matter how old they are…it just takes some strategic planning and a bit of divine intervention.
Go early! Every restaurant can be considered “family friendly” if you pick the right day and time. Don’t try going to a small, dimly lit café on a Friday and Saturday night unless you are looking to ruin date-night for a bunch of couples. Dine on a Sunday when the restaurant is just opening for fast service and smaller crowds.
Feed the babies! Make sure babies have a full belly...this will limit the possible causes for a meltdown while you are out. If going out with children who are eating solid foods, make sure they are not starving either…you don’t want to wait and neither do they.
Give the restaurant a heads up! Whether you are bringing in a stroller, carrying in a car seat, or just need a high chair, let them know. It’s always nice to be given a more appropriate table with ample space that allows for kids entertainment as well as a quick escape route if necessary.
Know what you want! When the waiter comes to take a drink order, it may be a good idea to order everything as soon as possible. Gone are the days of hours spent at the dinner table having a relaxing meal while enjoying a bottle of wine. You can enjoy your food, but be prepared to do it in a timely manner.
It never hurts to ask! Some restaurants have private dining rooms that they reserve for special events or parties. If these rooms are not being used, ask if you could sit there. You can eat more leisurely knowing that any level of meltdown is not bothering any other diners.
Remember that food is fun and it should be something we teach our children. Eating out even while your kids are infants will hopefully begin to instill in them an appreciation for food and a healthy lifestyle. If you are not up for the possibility of public embarrassment, learn to cook at home. Cooking can be a family affair and eating can be more relaxed, with plenty of time to enjoy sipping that bottle of wine. Bon appetite!