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Going out to dinner with your children needn't leave you with indigestion; before we had children, many of us used to watch in horror as parents struggled with their children, shouting at them to sit down and force-feeding them with food they refused to eat. Perhaps worse, we watched as they just let the children run riot in the restaurant and did nothing!
You don't need to turn into one of those embarrassed parents when it comes to taking your children, however little, out to dine. If you take the time to follow a few tips, you will be the proudest parent as they sit and eat nicely.
So make it easy on them (and you!) by bearing in mind these pointers:
- Choose an appropriate restaurant especially if its your first time out.
- Make sure there is a menufor the kids.
- Take along any special juice cups, or small cutlery if this will make it easier and more familiar for your little one.
- Take along plastic plates if you fear the restaurant crockery may end up on the floor! Plastic is quieter and less likely to draw attention if it falls and it will not result in a stroppy waiter having to clear up broken china.
- Check there is something that your child likes on the menu before you book.
- Try not to use a restaurant as a place to experiment with new flavours - unless your child is used to this.
- Don't eat too late or arrive at the time when your child usually eats. Bare in mind it may take some tome to get a table, settle quickly and have the food ordered and served. Although being hungry is useful, you don't want them screaming for sustenance! So, eat early to avoid any meltdowns!
- Take colouring books/crayons (that don't stain so no felt pens!) to amuse them. Draw your dinner, or the waiter's face! Even use paper napkins if you like.
- Take some small toys (that sit neatly on a table) in case there is a wait.
- Request a corner or edge table rather than one right in the middle of the room so as not to draw attention to yourselves.
- Ask for plenty of napkins ready to mop up any spills or dribbles!
- When you are seated, hand over any wine glasses, ornamental candles or anything that could cause your little one to reach and pull...just in case!
- Try and visit the toilet before you start eating so you avoid interrupting your meal.
- Don't stay too long and push them too far! If they are used to a quick meal, don't expect them to languish for hours!
- Have a test run! If you are out for an important meal, then have a test run in a coffee shop or supermarket café before hand. Get used to the idea of waiting, of sitting and of eating in a strange place.
- Don't be too hard on them, but make it clear you expect them to behave.