-Go to kid friendly restaurants. Allow me to define “kid friendly” in these simple terms: An establishment loud enough to drown out the sound of your babbling and/or whining child, but not loud enough that you have to be 21 and over.
-Sit outside. Sure, this probably depends on where you live. With the California weather, we try to reap the benefits of fabulous weather. It’s nice to sit outside and it allows more freedom for the munchkins to roam and play while we enjoy.
-Order early. We have our favorite restaurants that we return to, and hence, we know what we want. It speeds the process along and allows us to enjoy our time after the meal so long as the kids are both still happy as opposed to playing the role of a circus clown before the meal even comes.
-Bring a toy or small non-filling snacks. We almost always bring a car for Hooper and some Gerber puffs for Van. And we don’t take the car or puffs out until we’ve hit our first wall; Always save your tricks until you need them.
-Ask for them to bring your kids food out first. Hooper eats much slower than us and it’s nice to give him a head start. It’s also nice because then he’s preoccupied and we can wait in peace for our food. Though, as you all know, many times he wants nothing to do with his food anyway. More times than not, eating out means he’ll be eating mac n’ cheese, pizza, or chicken nuggets and he’s on board with all those.
-Only eat out when you have the energy to juggle the little ones. Willy has annoyingly asked, “Why don’t our kids just sit there?!”. I get defensive every time and remind him that our children are very young and the problem is not that they won’t just “sit there” but that he has unrealistic expectations. We’ve argued over this more than once and each time I’m reminded that parenting is all about perspective. So when you go out to eat, bring a realistic perspective with you.
-Chose weekdays. We decided last minute to go out to eat on a Saturday evening and were pretty surprised when we got to one of our favorite restaurants and found an hour long wait. Waiting an hour with kids just to sit down to eat is like running a 5K before you race in a 10K: pointless. It’s nice going out mid-week as well; it breaks up the week, gives you something to look forward to after a long day at work, and because there are less people out and about your child is more likely annoy less people.
-Keep calm. I don’t know about you, but I’m bothered more by an out-of-control parent than by an out-of-control child. As parents, we all know you can’t win them all. I don’t feel the need to apologize for my child’s bad behavior and if I do apologize, I don’t really mean it. What I expect is sympathy, people! If my kid is being an asshole, don’t judge me, pat me on the back and buy me a drink. Which brings me to my last suggestion…
-Order a drink. Or have a glass of wine before you leave the house. Because, well, you know. It helps that perspective thing I alluded to.
Am I missing anything? Please share what works for you!