For MomLiving

5 Ways To Make Dining Out With Kids A Breeze: Easy Tips For The Family

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I have three kids and I love to eat at high end restaurants. NYC has so much to offer… how can we resist? My husband is the ultimate foodie and he doesn’t shy away from a new hub opening just because we are a party of five. If I’m being REALLY honest with you, of COURSE there are some restaurants we avoid with our two year old. For instance, will I be taking Caleb to a Michelin 5 star restaurant? Probably not. But you better believe that we go to on-trend / chic / written up “because this dish is amazing” kind of establishments!! And I walk in with my head high. I’m not a circus. I’m just a family and we have these things called credit cards that are used to pay for food like magic. They work everywhere.

Let’s get down to it. How are my kids so well behaved? And the answer isn’t the iPad — I’m telling you this RIGHT NOW. We don’t let our children on any tech devices when we are out and about. I want them to see the world and experience it. I live in one of the greatest cities on the planet. Pick your head up! Enjoy it!

Here are my 5 tips to help you get started because anyone can do it. Anyone! My kids aren’t special. My family is insane. But they know what’s up when we are out and I can get your little ones to the same point with these simple tricks.

5 Ways To Make Dining Out With Kids A Breeze: Start Them Young

When Natalie was 3 weeks old, we went out to Tao in NYC. I remember this because that’s where I had my bachelorette party and I thought it would be fun to go back with my baby. Full circle sort of thing. Please don’t talk to me about her being too young. I didn’t let anyone hold her or anything. She was under a blanket sleeping. But we were still there and I was elated.

I forced myself to go out to a place that I typically frequented because I needed to stick to my routine. I didn’t want to become a different person because I became a mother. I still was ME. Natalie enhanced me of course – she made me a better version of me. But my DNA – my CORE – was still all my own. I walked into that restaurant and I fumbled through the whole ordeal. The stupid high chair, the bag with the million things I thought I needed to get through it all, the utter chaos… but it still happened and we lived to tell the tale. The next weekend, we went out again and again. As she got older, it became harder but it didn’t stop us ever. We just adjusted. Bill and I took turns walking her out of the restaurant if she ever needed to calm down. When babies are very young, sometimes there is nothing you can do to ease their troubles and during those times, we caved and took everything to go.

Eventually, I had one more child and once the two got a bit older, my two children were so USED to being in restaurants and to the kind of behavior that we expected from them. It was just a given.

Children understand how to behave in church, at school, at a playground and if you teach them… at high end restaurants.

5 Ways To Make Dining Out With Kids A Breeze: Pay Attention

When we are with the kids and out to eat, we are on. There’s no shoving them in the corner and then ordering a bottle of wine. It just doesn’t work like that. My husband and I understand that if we are out with our kids then we need to be present. We are on – like it’s our job. Oh wait, it is our job. If my son wants me to color with him, then I do. If my daughter wants me to play tic tac toe, I am all over it. That’s the trade off. It’s not a dinner date with your husband — it’s a family dinner date. You are all there together. You can’t have some side conversation with your man for 2 hours and expect your kids to behave. It just doesn’t happen. If your little ones become engaged with one another, praise the Lord and lock eyes with your man. That is the time to talk like love birds. Then and only now. Only when the window presents itself – not before or after.

5 Ways To Make Dining Out With Kids A Breeze: Today Is Not The Day To Push Brussel Sprouts

So, my children actually love Brussel sprouts but I figured that’s the most stereotypically hated vegetable. The point here is, don’t try to be a hero while ordering. If you want to have a calm table, then ensure that it is one. If your child likes grilled chicken with rice… let that boy order it. I’ve been guilty of trying to get my kids to order something brand new because I want them to explore new tastes… but save those rides for home. You don’t want to have that power struggle in public. Especially in a restaurant where you are the minority as a family with children.

Let them try some of your meal instead! One bite is a lot easier to swallow than a plate full of unwanted prawn!

** I just want to note that I am not encouraging that you opt for unhealthy food. Still push for healthier options. There’s always something to work with on the menu. I’m also not suggesting that your children never try new foods. We ALWAYS make our children try new food when we dine out – especially when we are out of town. But it’s typically off our our plates or from an appetizer. Their meals are usually safe since they are all still young.

5 Ways To Make Dining Out With Kids A Breeze: Don’t Start Bad Habits

Guys. Technology is evil. You can use it if you must… but don’t get them used to it! Don’t make them need it because what if the battery runs out? What if you forget it at home? What if you left it in the car and the valet lost the keys? What if the world comes to an end and we no longer have power and the zombies are all at the window but you still want to have a quiet meal and… Ok I’m getting ahead of myself. Catch my drift? Don’t push these dependencies! Besides, why not have family time during dinner? You would be chatting and bonding if you were home, right? What’s the difference now that you are out?

5 Ways To Make Dining Out With Kids A Breeze: If You Have To Bring Something, Bring Crayons And Paper 

Life. Savers. That way you can create games, draw pictures, write a group book…. it’s endless! Throw everything in a ziploc bag and call it a day! In fact, we keep one in our car just in case we want to pull over while on the road. You never know when you are going to end up near a really cool looking place!

And if all else fails — try again next week! 

Here’s the deal. If you see your kids crashing and burning, ask for the check as soon as your meal comes. Skip the dessert and let that night go. Never let it deter you from being part of society. I have friends that tell me that they don’t go out anymore because they just can’t with their kids. They stick to pizzerias and fast food joints because melt downs are acceptable there. That’s no way to live! You are missing out on some great food! Work your way up. Go to a nicer pizzeria than you normally would and see how they do if you are 100% engaged with them. Then, move to that new Mexican restaurant you keep hearing good things about. Before you know it, you’ll be eating sushi with the rest of us!! Note: my children do NOT eat sushi. I keep trying, but like I said earlier, I don’t battle in front of waiters. 🙂

Those are my tips! What do you think? Do you have any tips that you’d like to share? Would love to hear!!

Vera
Vera Sweeney, mom, blogger, social media influencer and New York resident, is the founder of LadyAndTheBlog.com. She is considered one of the top female digital influencers in today’s social media space. Her lifestyle and parenting brand helps busy women stay on top of the latest trends in fashion, food, family and travel.