Eating Out with Your Child
Eating out should be fun, right?
Sadly, I know some parents who've given up on eating out with their children altogether as they've found the experience entirely too much of a trauma to bother with.
I love eating out (no cooking, no washing up - what's not to love?) but like many parents have found it tricky to keep my children amused (and indeed seated) when in a restaurant.
I've canvassed opinion from a few Perform parents and popped some tips below which hopefully you'll find useful:
Choose your venue carefully...
Some places are more child-friendly than others - this goes way beyond children's menu options! If you are taking out young children, try to pick a place which is happy to serve young diners - a good bet is to go where there are other families already. Also, think about things like how quickly the food comes out after ordering - anywhere where you'll have to wait too long for your food is an absolute no-no - I'm sure I don't need to tell you how quickly hungry children get cranky!
Timing is everything...
Book a table for around half-an-hour before you'd usually eat. So if you usually eat lunch around 1pm, then book the table for 12.30pm. By the time you're seated, your drinks order has been taken, then your food order has been taken with a bit of luck and a fair wind the food will arrive about the time you'd usually eat.
I've also been known to have the children's main courses served up at the same time as our starters, and then have their desserts served at the same time as our main courses. Good, family friendly places will be happy to do this for you.
Children often see eating as a chore which unnecessarily interrupts them from doing things which are far more fun. Be prepared with things to keep them amused. The parents I spoke to were all used to bringing along some quiet activities - e.g. colouring books and crayons, paper for drawing, playing noughts and crosses etc. We've also got a small magnetic Snakes and Ladders travel game which can be played and then put away quickly when the food arrives. It's saved the day many a time!
You can also keep the children amused with some of the usual fodder you find on most eateries' tables. For example, you can teach your children how to make boats out of paper napkins - just steer clear of aeroplanes - you'll not be popular with other diners!
One parent suggested a great variation of Three Card Monte (or Find The Queen) with sugar sachets, paper coasters etc. Simply take three sugar sachets or coasters and mark one of them. Lift it up to show your children which one you've marked. Then move them around and see if they can find the one with the mark.
So, how about you? Do you have any tips and tricks you'd care to share? I'd love to hear them :)
Image credit M.Gifford