Eating out can be fun for many families because it can provide a change of scenery, give busy parents a night off from cooking and give everyone the opportunity to sample new foods.
By Chris Gaspar
Yet taking your children to something more than a ‘fast food’ outlet can be worrisome or expensive. Here are a few tips to increase your chances for a successful restaurant experience:
- Prepare your children
Explain where you will be eating, the style of food that will be available and what they will be allowed to order. Talk ahead of time about sharing an appetizer so that they can try something new. Emphasize the importance of good manners by teaching kids how to politely order from a menu in a timely fashion. Role-playing at home is a clever way to practice.
- Family-friendly restaurants are key
Choose an affordable eatery that caters to young children and offers kid’s menus or smaller portions. They should also have some sort of activity or theme for young guests to add to their experience.
- Stop the squirming
Think ahead of time about things to bring or discuss that might be fun. Consider the iPad or a good old-fashioned colouring book. Ask the waiter to bring carrot and celery sticks or apple slices as munchies. If all else fails, a trip outside, a visit to the bathroom or a quiet time out in the lobby should help.
Don’t let food allergies stop you. Check the restaurant’s website and call ahead to see if they can accommodate. Today’s chefs are usually able to offer meals for people who need gluten free choices, are lactose intolerant or have nut or other allergies. Be sure to let your server and the manager know when you arrive about your child’s needs so that food is prepared in a safe environment.