My kids are loud and messy and opinionated and I can’t take them anywhere without something ridiculous happening but they are also so fun and silly and taking them out and about is one of my favorite things to do! When our older kids were little though there was one exception. Eating out. It was takeout and drive-thrus for us thank you very much. Since those days I’ve changed my thinking and approach and it’s made eating in restaurants way more enjoyable — not to be confused with easy — without having to pack up a bag of activities.
Granted my kids and their age gaps are likely different than your’s, but hopefully you’ll find these tips helpful or encouraging anyways!
- EXPECT KIDS TO ACT THEIR AGE: I used to have this weird expectation that my kids could pull it together for an hour or so while we ate in public. Turns out there’s only one thing I should expect from them… to be themselves and act their age. So now, during any given eating out experience I expect there to be a spill or two, that someone will decide to take off their shoes, while another thinks its fun to climb under the table and everyone is bound to be starving and act like they’re near death. The good news is that it’s rare for all of these things to happen at one sitting so I usually walk away feeling like they did awesome, ha!
- KEEP MY GOAL(s) IN MIND: My hope is that my kids will do their best to be a good guest and considerate of others and especially their server. All of which are learned behaviors and one of the reasons I want to take them out. I also really just enjoy sitting for most of a meal and then not having to clean up afterwards! Usually makes the moments of chaos totally worth it.
- DECIDE ON A DINNER WORKFLOW: Having an idea of what and when we’re ordering (are we letting kids get sodas, ordering a basket of fries or other app first, etc.), and how you want to occupy the kids while they wait, before walking in the restaurant is a big help. Something that has worked for us when we have all of the kids is to order drinks, the kid’s meals, side salads for the grownups, and usually a basket of fries or hummus plate right away. While we wait for the food we chat with the kids – go through our highs and lows from the day, etc. Once their food arrives Johan and I order. We continue chatting and micromanaging until the kids are finished and then we let them share tech (usually our phones) while we eat and attempt a conversation. It’s not perfect or peaceful but it works :)
- HAPPY HOURS ARE MY BEST FRIEND: kind of a given but going before or after the breakfast, lunch or dinner rush makes a huge difference!
- STAY POSITIVE: and if needed switch things up a bit. Taking a kid or two for a bathroom break or to the car to grab something or telling a funny joke (the spoon on the nose trip works every time!) or anything that distracts them from annoying their sibling or throwing a fit is worth a try!
(Received lots of questions about my sweater so shared outfit details with links at the bottom of the post :)
A few pics from our lunch date with Griffin + Poppy yesterday.
There were surprisingly no spills and I don’t think any complaints about being starving to death. Griffin however, did accidentally mistake his thumb as part of his cheese and let out a very loud yelp followed by major tears and Poppy spent a good chunk of time dropping things under the table so she could climb down and pick them up.
But in the end they earned ice cream.
Not really but it seemed like the perfect way to end our outing!
It’s my favorite when Johan can join us for an afternoon adventure in the middle of the week. One of the perks of being married to a firefighter. Lucky kids. Lucky me.
Happy, happy weekend you guys!
Oh, and loved reading all of the comments on my dining room post… thanks for playing along!