OK confession time. We rarely take Landon out to eat. It’s not that he is a bad kid or that we have been burned by a bad experience…I am just always waiting for the meltdown to begin. It is so much work to socialize, keep him happy and get a decent meal in him. Sometimes I wonder if I am just delaying the inevitable. Should I take him more now to train him better for when he is a little older? I dunno. I wanted to touch on this subject here but I have no advice since I am so timid about it. So I turned to you guys. I posed the question on Twitter and Facebook to see what people do with taking their kids out to eat. Here is what you had to say:
- Snacks. This was a common answer. Take snacks with you to have before the food gets there. This could also be combined with the suggestion of Mexican restaurants(the only place we really take LT) because you get chips while you wait. My only issue with this one is when they get filled up on said snacks, then everyone is miserable as they whine through your meal and don’t eat the actual food you ordered them. Delicate balance here.
- Distractions. Toys, coloring, play a game on the iPhone. Diane suggested sitting near a window to point out cars and people if possible. Great idea! We currently take Landon’s “phone” with us and he can watch a movie or play some games. The other night he lasted 1.5 hours at the restaurant with us for Kevin’s mom’s birthday. Great job, little dude.
- Pick your restaurant wisely. This could be broken down into multiple parts:
- Pick a noisy place. You can mask your child with kitchen sounds, TV and other children.
- Pick a place you can get their food early. If they can get their meal earlier, no need for snacks.
- Go to the place early. We always do this because of Landon’s bedtime anyway. Go early because you will most likely get your food quicker and disturb less people. Also, nothing says “good parenting” like margaritas at 5:15!
- Buffet places are great for picking some healthy options and getting food quicker. Becky suggested Sweet Tomatoes for this very reason. Also some of the hippy grocery stores have healthy buffets and I am told by Dawn that Earth Fare has kids eat free on Thursdays! Kelly also notes that McAlisters has kids eat free Mon-Thur.
- One tip from the Mann household is the portable high chair. We keep this in the car and use it in restaurants most of the time. We put Landon in the booth with us. That way he isn’t sticking out on the end and potentially hurling food at the floor or other people. Also keeps his noise level within the booth and not booming from the sidelines. It is also handy to have for visiting people who don’t have high chairs. Instant high chair.
- And the most ingenious, though more long term, suggestion goes to Pablo at The Family Wilds. He has worked with his daughter on out-to-eat skills at home including patience and taking turns. I really admire this approach and think we might try to work on this at home as well. Patience is a tough thing for Landon and I would be happy to work on this for other aspects as well.
So now it’s your turn. What tips do you have? Got a funny story about eating out? Examples of what NOT to do? Leave a comment! We are all learning 🙂
Now onto this week in toddler dinners:
*note the Train ploy can be found in this old post.