Tips for Dining Out with Children

As a parent one of the biggest fears you have is the stigma of being the parents with “those kids,” you know what I’m talking about.  The kids you see at restaurants running around, crying, throwing food, banging silverware, all while the parents are sitting in sheer terror and embarrassment constantly shushing their misbehaving kids. Here are a few tips for dining out with children that will keep you sane, and everyone around you less annoyed. 

The Right Restaurant Makes the Difference

Use common sense here, if you are trying to pick a restaurant and you have the kids, pick one that’s appropriate and kid friendly.  This doesn’t mean that it has to be fast food, but it can’t be a five star restaurant either.  Choose a “family friendly” restaurant where it’s okay if the kids are louder.  Pick a place where the noise of the restaurant will at least balance out the noise of the kids. This will make you feel more comfortable and the meal more enjoyable.

Earlier the Better

It’s simple – kids get tired, when they get tired, they get fussy, fussy leads to crying. Tired kids in public are your worst nightmare. The solution, eat earlier. The kids won’t get tired and the restaurant won’t be as busy.  Making the whole experience quick, easy and perhaps even enjoyable.

Come Prepared

If you’re a parent you get it, always be prepared for your kids losing interest and being bored. After all, when dining out there are only so many utensils to drop. Pack a small backup of essential items – crayons, coloring books and small toys to help keep your kids occupied. In addition to toys, bring wipes, straws, napkins, and diapers if you need them. As a parent it’s best to be prepared for anything.   

Study the Menu Before Hand

Depending on when and where you eat, you could have a wait when you get the restaurant. Kids will be impatient and hungry. To avoid the feared meltdown, review the menu prior to arriving. If everyone knows what they want, you can quickly order your food when your server comes for the drink order.  It will be a quick meal but your server, the other diners and your kids will appreciate it.

Relax
Perhaps the best tip of all, RELAX.  Don’t sweat the small stuff, and pick your battles in a restaurant.  Although you’re trying to help the other diners, constantly reprimanding your kids or telling them to be quiet can actually cause more of a scene.  The solution, let your kids loose a little, don’t stifle them if they want to play with a sugar packet, or softly drum on the table.  If they’re happy, you’re happy.

Dining with kids can be a fun family experience, but there are days when it’s dreadful and you swear you’ll never do it again.  Use these tips to help make every dinner experience a good one and rather than having “those kids,” you’ll have the kids everyone wished they had.

This article is presented by Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Los Angeles. Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Los Angeles offers culinary arts and pâtisserie and baking training programs in Los Angeles, California. To learn more about the class offerings, please visit Chefs.edu/Los Angeles for more information. 
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