tips on eating out with small children from this nanny.

i'm here to tell you that going out to eat with kids is not fun. it can be mildly pleasant, but when i think of fun, yeah - it is not in the top ten.  it's one of those things that you have to do, if you want to raise kids that CAN eat out with manners.  but fun, it is not.

here are some tips i have found in all my years of wrangling kids to restaurants to have a successful eating experience.
success = kids are well behaved + you don't want to pull your hair out, or theirs.

-8 tips for eating out with small children-
1.  keep in mind going into the restaurant, this is to eat food and to teach my children how to behave in a restaurant setting.  its not dinner and drinks with the girls.

2.  order quickly.
i can't stress this one enough. talk about their choices in the car and when you sit down, order food.

3.  keep the kids engaged.
forget adult conversation, talk to the kids. if you see them loosing interest and starting to misbehave, etc, engage their interest in something else.  (ie:  can you find something yellow in the restaurant?  what do you think the table beside us are eating?  can you remember the name of our waiter?  what color shirt did he have on?  etc...)

4.  when you order your food, REQUEST THE CHECK and pay while you are still eating. so as soon as the last bite is in the last child, you can leave. there won't be any waiting around. that just leaves time for bad behavior.

5.  explain to the older children (2+ - 7) the importance of good manners while in said eating establishment. 
usually they are interested. i like to beat something into the ground and talk it to death, like good manners for example. it is a big deal and we talk about it all the time...but i feel like the more they are aware that one day it will sink in...

6.  adults. order easy food. 
one time i ordered lettuce wraps and didn't get but about two bites by the time i cut food, applied ketchup, reminded them to sit down, etc.

7.  be a good example how to behave in a restaurant.
adults need to remember how to say please and thank you.  to be kind.

8.  be patient with the kids.
children feed of stress, if they notice you getting stressed, they are going to react negatively to that. stay calm and remember they are mini adults and this is a teaching experience.

it has to be done.  eating at restaurants.  it's part of life.  let's set the little ones up for success.  
what'da ya say?

got any more tips to add to mine?
i'd love to hear!

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