We celebrate a lot of birthdays and anniversaries in my family. And for us…that means a lot of meals outside of the house. When I was little, I was always so happy to go out for a treat meal. When the mister and I got married, we ate out a lot. Mainly because we lived downtown and it was fun to try new places. Now with a little one in tow, we don’t go out as often, but we do enjoy it and try to go often (read: at minimum twice a month).
When we do go out for dinner, we plan and “early bird” dinner usually and pick family friendly restaurants. That isn’t always the case when it comes to celebrations with the extended family (being out way past bed time and sometimes the kiddo doesn’t get a complimentary distraction aka crayons with her paper menu).
After becoming a mom I quickly learned that kids between the ages of 1-5 aren’t designed to sit quietly and respectfully for 45 minutes. They want to explore, run, say hi to strangers – they get easily distracted and just want to be kids!! (And who can blame them!)
I used to be way more strict about it, but I’ve learned let it go and go with the flow because #MommyNeedsAGlassOfWine and it’s easier to have one when there are other hands to help. That said I have a few survival tips when dinning out with kiddos.
1. Try and choose a family friendly restaurant outside of sleep times – this is an obvious one but not necessarily something you can control if you have various ages dinning out.
2. Bring a distraction – for our family it’s a small toy (or a few), these awesome activity packs or even the sugar packs at the restaurant lol. We tried to limit use of our phones/technology at dinner time (at home or at a resto) we don’t encourage it for Miss S either…..But if your kid has a fav ipad game or show, bring it along! (I’ve been known to give her my phone when she needs a quick distraction).
3. Bring a stroller – we bring our umbrella stroller. It’s small but comfy enough for her to nap in. Of course this depends on the age of your kiddo, when Miss S was younger, we could use our ring sling.
4. Take help! – This was a big one for me but if I am out with my family and my toddler is willing to be entertained by someone else that means I can use both hands to eat my 25 dollar meal :P
What are your tried and tested tips for dining out with your kiddo?