Thursday, April 1, 2010

Is it still called dining?

People ... please tell me your tips and tricks for eating out with your kids.

I must say that we didn't take full advantage of the baby-is-portable-and-sleeping-in-her-bucket stage. It was cold outside at that stage. And I was kind of a homebody. And then, before I knew it, that stage was over.

We have recently attempted a few outings with Girly because the weather has been so beautiful and the first thought that crosses our minds is "Drinks on a patio!" (Some things from your college days just remain a part of you).

We get there early (like, barely 5:00pm).

I try to order something for Girly to eat as soon as the waitperson comes by. (As an aside - do you feel it is necessary / appropriate to order food for your kids to eat at the restaurant? Or is it OK to bring stuff? Aside from allergy issues, I felt I should order something. BUT - she never eats it. Money down the drain.)

I used to order whatever I wanted, and now I tend to order food that tastes good cold.

From now on, I will ask for the bill as soon as our food comes - just in case.

I fully admit that I become stressed more easily than the average person. I am finding, though, that eating out with Girly just isn't enjoyable. We shove our food in our faces and try constantly to entertain her and keep her quiet, all the while trying to get her to eat something that has a minuscule of nutritional value. It isn't that she behaves badly, but I think I just worry that she is on the verge of a meltdown at all times and I can't relax and enjoy the Drinks On The Patio.

You?? How do you handle this??


Andrea said...

We have the same problem and I would love to hear solutions. Dining out has led us to introduce juice and ice cream. Really we were willing to serve him anything that would keep him still for just 10 minutes. Our strategy is to pick a place that sereves quickly, bring toys to entertain before the food arrives (those alphabet books worked for a while), ordr right when you are seated and then order ice cream when the melt down is imminent. Is this the parent that I want to be? No, but I rationalize it that I deserve to dine out every once in a while. I have a friend who brings a dvd player. They get to dine out all the time. I'm not ready to be that parent yet because I fear creating the six year old child that doesn't know how to dine without electronics. Trust me, I'm tempted. For right now, we stick to quick options, teaching sitting at the table at home and getting a babysitter.

Marie Hooker said...

I bring food with that will take him some time to eat. Can't go wrong with Cheerios or pretzels or things of that nature. Always good to bring toys to entertain. We usually take a turn getting him out and letting him run around before food arrives. We rarely eat out with him, though!

Carrie said...

I think at some point they are all terrible at eating out but I also think there are some tricks...first don't all rush to sit down-send someone to order drinks and then preempt the needing to see the restaurant by doing it before you sit-BEWARE could backfire if there is something more interesting away from your seat like a fountain. Have really great "outing" toys (meaning they don't get them unless they are at a restaurant). When the age hits that novel is great-it's easier because then they are interested in whatever is new. Both of my kids are obsessed with little animals (great because we can give them 1 at a time and it lasts a lot longer)-we love a good wind up toy. Bring your own food-Cheerios are the best-and give them a few at a time. I agree with Andrea on juice & ice cream too. Jack almost exlusively eats french fries when out. Quite frankly you are treating yourself so why shouldn't they? Be very picky about where you eat-it's a lot less about good food and places where they have areas where your kids can get out of their seat and it's not the end of the world. Also, places that light their fajitas on fire-very entertaining for little ones, especially if they sell a lot of fajitas. Apparently we have a german place around the corner that has a band & dance floor...we will be heading there soon. You can also try lollipops, choco covered raisins, stickers, and stamps.

Jen said...

Yes, we have entered that phase too. When we were on vacation a few weeks ago, my parents were desperate to take us all to an upscale restaurant. At no time were all 6 adults sitting down -- someone was always walking Will around. I can relate to everything you mentioned. We usually hand out ONE PUFF AT A TIME and that helps slow him up. I try to hang onto a few books he's never seen before, so that it's exciting. Bread from the bread basket has been a lifesaver. Even if he's behaving though, I still have yet to relax and enjoy the meal. I'm always trying to stay ahead of the potential squeal (his latest). I hate feeling like I'm bothering the other diners. Drama...

Angie Grant said...

We've tried to make it a regular thing to get him used to and accustomed to eating out. I figured the earlier the better in hopes that one day he will be used to it and behave better if done regularly. Plus my parents love eating out so I figured we have to do it whenever they're in town or when we head back to see them. Lots of snack food and some toys are good. It's a bonus if we find places with lots of waiters or movement for him to watch as long as he's facing the action.