Going to the restaurants with toddlers is not the easiest task. But what to do if you want to go out and socialize with people that have outgrown Peppa Pig, but there’s nobody who can babysit your little ones? Here are some tips to make your evening with kids as pleasant as possible.
1. Be prepared
It is important to go out when your kids are in a good mood. If you want to enjoy the evening, make sure that your little ones have slept well and they’re not too hungry. We usually go out after they’ve taken a nap and have eaten something light. Like this they are more likely to behave better. If you don’t want to feed your kids in a restaurant, feed them just before you go out. If needed, take bottles, some cookies, or whatever they like to snack. Ipad is a great help too.
2. Kids are customers too
In today’s modern society, little children are often seen as a burden, especially in public places like cafés, or restaurants. That can be understandable because nobody wants to share a room with screaming kids and have wine split on a new outfit (happened many times). However, kids are customers too and they must be treated just like adults, with all respect and good service.
When we enter into restaurants, we immediately ask for high chairs, bread and apple juices (take from home, if you want). Like this, kids feel comfortable and are busy eating/drinking, and you have time to relax a little bit and check the menu. Don’t be shy to ask whatever you need. Usually, the staff understand that if they make kids happy, everyone else will be happy too.
3. Make it fun
Maybe for you going out to eat is something fun and exciting but not for kids. They don’t like to sit quietly at the table and watch you eating. It’s very hard for them. They would prefer to be in a playground, jumping around, screaming and having fun. So instead of getting upset about them not behaving like adults, make sure they actually enjoy the time with you.
When I’m in restaurants with toddlers, I treat them like they were my dates. For example, when you’re out with your second half, you don’t tell him/her: “Be silent or we leave!” I always try to have fun conversations with my girls, I hold their hands, let them taste my food, make silly faces, and sing their favorite songs. It always works, and we all have a great time together.
4. Food is to eat, not to play with
Having fun is great but good manners matter. Do not let them play with food, scream and disturb others. You have to teach them good manners from the very beginning.
When my kids are done with their meals, I take away their plates and leave only bottles with water/juice/milk, whatever. When they start to misbehave, the fun is over. I become very strict and let them know that what they’re doing is not okey. If things get out of control, I take them out of the table, put them in a stroller and give my phone to watch YouTube, so they don’t disturb others with their tantrums.
5. Respect others
This is the most important point. When you go out with your little ones, don’t forget that other people you share the room with, are not here to listen your kids’ shouting. They are here to have a good time, maybe to celebrate their anniversaries, or this may be the first time in a year they had a chance to go out. Respect that. It’s not like you’re stuck on a plane, you can actually go out of a restaurant to take a little walk if your kids are totally out of control. This is what I do when things go really bad.
Don’t feel ashamed and ignore annoying looks in your direction. But also understand that “kids are kids” and “adults are adults” and that you’re not in a playground.
6. Don’t stress out
Even if your evening has turned into a total madness, don’t stress out about it. Always concentrate on the good parts of the evening. If you leave in a bad mood, your kids will feel that and next time they probably won’t be very excited to come back. But you have to come back! The more you go out, the better! This is the only way to teach your kids to behave in public, doesn’t matter if you go to a restaurant, a museum, or simply visiting a friend. Practice makes perfect… or at least bearable 🙂