Monday, 12 December 2011

How to Survive a Long Restaurant Meal with Kids

  1. Make sure that they have an extended nap time in the day. I usually let them sleep as long as they want in the day time if I know we'll be out late.
  2. Pack along some things that will amuse them during the dinner eg. books, colouring pencils (unless it's a posh restaurant!), an iPad or portable multimedia device, small cars, small doll.
  3. Pack your own drinks in their sippy cups/ water bottles, then you don't have to be worried that they are going to drop a glass on the floor or all over the table.
  4. Pack some small snacks, preferably savoury. This is a fall back if the food takes a long time to come out and they are really hungry, then you can give them a tiny snack, eg. plain rice crackers or rice crackers snacks. Don't give them too much!
  5. Bring some kitchen scissors to cut up food - it's better than trying to use a fork and knife!
  6. Ensure you bring a pack of baby wipes to clean their dirty faces and hands.
  7. Don't forget to bring bibs! We prefer to Tommy Tippee brand that has the scoop catcher at the bottom of it to catch any falling food.
  8. Try and get a table that has good space around it - not too close to other tables. A table that is close to an exit door can be handy if you want to take them for some fresh air at any time.
  9. Highchairs are great in that children have less chance of getting on and off their chairs!
  10. It almost seems obvious to mention, but make sure you order food you know they'll like to eat (not just stuff that mummy and daddy like to eat!).
  11. Use food they like to eat strategically - for example, at Chinese restaurants we get prawn crackers at the start to get to settle down and wait for the food to arrive. We know if we order another bowl at any time during the meal, they will quieten down and eat the crackers!!!!
  12. If possible take them for a walk when waiting between servings.
  13. Time it carefully when you order dessert. You need to order it just before the kids start getting full with the main meal. All kids I know will eat dessert even if they are full to the brim! The dessert will buy you time to finish your own meal and keep talking with your friends!
  14. Take some time during the meal to specifically pay attention to your children. Perhaps read a short book to them or play a game - see below.
  15. Play a game with them while waiting for food to arrive. We play Eye Spy, but with colours. So, "I spy with my little eye something that is red", and let them find things that are that colour.
  16. Another game is to ask them if they can find things around the room - without getting up from their seat, eg. A light, a particular decoration in the room, a clock, a ceiling fan etc.

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