Restaurants are a short retreat for many people, a place where you treat yourself to be waited on and to enjoy a degree of relaxation.
We used to eat out a lot when we had the two boys, but since our family has grown to four children, we find we are dining out a lot less. Why? because it can be a bit of a battlefield with four children, they are general good kids, but kids get bored quickly. Summer starts making noises, Liam our teenager starts getting stressed out because Summer is making noise. It can all then become difficult to relax and enjoy the meal, and ultimately it ends up as a mad rush trying to finish, with a small bribe of getting a drive through McFlurry rather than staying longer to order a dessert from the menu.
My tips to having a better experience in a restaurant.
- Go early evening, it is more likely to be quieter with fewer customers about, thus you will be served quicker.
- Keep the kids stocked up with drinks, with straws. It's perfect if the restaurant offers free re-fills. It keeps them happier and more settled.
- Whilst waiting for the food to arrive remove the cutlery out of their reach (not applicable for older kids), as ultimately it will end up on the floor or used to play imaginary instruments.
- Always take a colouring book and crayons - not all restaurants supply these, thus it is handy to have your own and the A3 Colour Me Placemats packs from Belo and Me are fantastic. They are designed specifically for this, included are glue dots so you can stick the colouring sheet down, and a swap point crayon.
- Request to sit in a booth - if they have one, it is so much easier for you to sit in a booth, rather than on single chairs. A parent on either end, the kids in the middle, you've created a barrier, stopping the kids escaping.
Finally, just try to enjoy your experience, no matter if your little ones are throwing peas, or they've decided they like the sound of their own voice. Enjoy the time you have, watching them enjoying the experience in their own little way, and growing up all too quicly. During the time you have the kids all to yourself, no TV, no computers, you can sit chat, laugh and eat good food.