5 Tips for Dining Out With Children


Last night, the stars aligned and we were able to go out to eat as a family.

In other words, someone else cooked and did dishes. Divine!

Even better, we were able to dine out without a single melt down or food fight. The kids were great too. It inspired me to share:

Five Tips for Dining Out with Children

1. Eat early. Early bird specials aren’t just for seniors. They’re for families with kids. The first time we went to dinner at 5:00, it was a different world from our 7:00 dinners. Young children and seniors shared the space. The bar was virtually empty and ours weren’t the only kids jumping on their seats. Yes. Yes. I know. You’re supposed to encourage good table manners. But it helps if you have the deck stacked in your favor.

2. Bring Cheerios. Lots and lots of Cheerios. The kids can eat them, stack them, line them up, and they’re great for the husband who, even though you are going to eat in less than fifteen minutes, is convinced his blood sugar is getting too low.

3. Skip the kids’ meals. Usually, we order Joseph a kids meal. Something like mac and cheese for $5. It irritates me because I know I can buy six boxes for that amount. Last night, we ordered him the florentine ravioli topped with grilled chicken and alfredo sauce. We gave Elizabeth two and then Joseph ate every bite. And do you know what “florentine” is? It’s code for “spinach”. It was only four dollars more and fed both kids.

4. Don’t be proud. I always said that I’d never allow my children to play video games or watch TV in a restaurant. Then I had kids. Now my iPhone can be all that stands in the way of disaster when our order takes over thirty minutes to get to our table.
5. Tip well. I used to be a waitress. I dreaded the tables with young children. Not only did the parents run me back and forth for drink refills, more napkins, extra plates, extra silverware, extra anything, but when they left, the table looked as if a hurricane had struck. Spaghetti smashed into seats, cheese pounded into the carpet, drinks dripping off the end of the table. Nothing made the pain of having a table out of commission far longer than normal, than a nice tip.
What are your tips for dining out with children?