How many times have you eaten out with friends and been horrified by the antics of badly-behaved children running riot in a restaurant while their parents remain oblivious?
In Europe, kids eat out with family from a young age, and most restaurants welcome children with open arms. Because it’s the norm, children are well-behaved. In the UK, dining out isn’t so much of a thing when you have young children, and many parents tend to hire a babysitter if they feel like going for a meal in a nice restaurant. It’s easier than dealing with toddler tantrums between the starter and the main course.
With the right approach, however, it is perfectly possible to take your kids to restaurants and enjoy a pleasant family dining experience. We asked some battle-hardened parents for their tips, so read on to learn more.
Choose the Right Restaurant
Picking the right restaurant is critical. Expecting a high-end Michelin starred restaurant to be accommodating to children is a big ask, although it may depend on your status! If you want a hassle-free experience, choose somewhere likely to be child-friendly, like a family pizza restaurant or a European-themed restaurant.
Check the menu before you visit, to be certain there are dishes your kids will enjoy. For example, cafe-luca.co.uk offers simple dishes on their brunch menu, such as toasted pita bread and breakfast pastries that kids of all ages will enjoy.
If your kids are picky about what they will eat, choose a restaurant with a varied menu that offers simple dishes, such as cheese & tomato pizza or plain pasta, as well as more adventurous ones. Even if your kids won’t want anything too spicy, it doesn’t mean you can’t have an enjoyable meal.
Be Mindful of Your Children’s Routine
Taking your kids out for a meal late in the evening, when they are usually in bed for 7pm, is a mistake. You cannot expect tired kids to behave and if they don’t, it is basically your fault.
Book a table for a time when you know they won’t be tired and overly hungry. Let them know this will be a fun outing and remind them good behaviour will be expected if they want a delicious dessert.
Have Activities Ready
It’s sensible to have a few activities ready to keep your children amused when waiting times are long or adults have things to talk about. Pack a colouring book for toddlers or a word search book for older kids. That said, dining out is a good opportunity to have a conversation with your kids, something that many families don’t always do very often.
Good Manners Begin at Home
You can’t expect kids to have good manners in restaurants if they are accustomed to lying on the sofa with a plate every night. Make a point of sitting down at the table to eat dinner at least once a week. This ensures your kids know how to use cutlery and not to talk with a full mouth.