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HOW TO SURVIVE EATING OUT WITH A TODDLER

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Are you tempted to skip eating out until your child turns 20? Is the thought of flying peas or a complete meltdown making you think is that dinner at the restaurant really worth the stress? The disapproving looks, the constant apologies, is it worth all that hassle? When you decided to take a toddler out to a restaurant you are including a guest who finds it difficult to sit still, who is prone to a tantrum or two and probably has a limited interest in being quiet while eating their peas. So I can understand why parents who have toddlers choose to stay at home to cook, but it turns out that taking your toddler out to a restaurant is not as daunting as you may think, get this, it may even be enjoyable. All you need is a little preparation, some 'must have' essentials to make dining out with a toddler lots of fun. I shall let you into some secrets...

 

CHOOSE THE RIGHT ESTABLISHMENT

You don't have to be limited to the type of restaurant you want to take your family to, but it's always best to pick a place that is family friendly. Let's face it, if you do take your toddler to a fancy restaurant you're pretty much setting up yourself to fail, as there's a big pressure. You will become embarrassed or agitated if your toddler becomes disruptive, when in reality they are just being a toddler. So it's best to try and find a restaurant that is child friendly, that has a children's menu, high chairs and some crayons to keep them occupied.

NEVER, EVER TAKE A TIRED TODDLER OUT

Talk about a recipe for disaster! When you make your booking, plan around your child's nap time. The last thing you want when you dine out is a complete meltdown because your toddler is tired. So, it's best if your toddler has had their nap or just finishing one. It's all about your child's needs, not yours. Always try and avoid the busiest times when dining out with a toddler. We have found that the best time to eat out at a restaurant with our daughter is during the early evening or opting for a late lunch as there are less people about to annoy.
 
A BAG OF TRICKS
 
Toddlers get bored, as we all know, so this comes as no surprise. To help avoid a screaming meltdown, being embarrassed or flying peas make sure you take a bag full of tricks. These could be their favourite toys, books and if your child is especially energetic or restless, pack a couple of new small toys that will hold their attention at least until their food arrives. It's always a good idea to keep some paper and crayons stashed away in your car. Children love nothing more than to doodle to their hearts content, even some restaurants supply paper and crayons which is a big bonus for those who forget. You can buy small carry along colouring travel sets, which are perfect to keep in your handbag to help keep your toddler occupied.  When the novelty of their toys or creating a masterpiece has worn off the next thing that I would do would be to dive into your handbag. It's not as if it's short of a couple of distractions that will sure to keep those little mischievous minds occupied, my daughter loves my keys because it has a picture of her and Father Christmas and a fluffy sheep. My daughter also loves to play with my compact mirror and makeup brushes so there is always something to help keep her occupied whilst dining out.
 

BIBS AND BABY PROOF DINNERWARE
Whenever my husband and I take our toddler out to eat we are always prepared for an easy clean up. We use bibs and a muslin to make sure all the crumbs she drops falls into her lap, so she doesn't leave a sea of peas on the floor before we leave. Wipe-off or disposable bibs will make your life so much easier. If the bib is reusable, consider storing it in a plastic bag after meals. It's also sensible to carry a baby spoon and bowl in case your little one gets the urge to throw the restaurants plates and bowls off the table.
 
ORDER YOUR TODDLER'S FOOD FIRST

Children don't like waiting too long for their food just like hungry husbands but at least the husband won't scream at the top of their lungs...too much! So when you go order your food ask your server to get your children's food out first out so all tantrums can be avoided. It is always best to try and order their food as soon as you arrive because babies and toddlers prefer eating tepid food and most restaurant's pride themselves by serving hot piping dishes.
 
TAKE A TREAT

This one may come as a surprise as you know that you'll be eating in a little while. But you can never guarantee a short waiting time and be served straight away so prepare a few snacks, however keep them light. Rice crackers, breadsticks or even cheerios are great way to keep those hunger tantrums at bay until their food arrives.

ALWAYS BE CONSIDERATE

Yes, your child is your world but they are not everyone else's so try and be considerate and let others enjoy their meals as much as possible. You can never predict when a toddler has a tantrum but do whatever you can to try and minimise it. Take them for a walk around the restaurant, load the kindle with lots of apps to help and keep those tantrums to a minimum. When you have finished your meal always try and clear around the destruction that your toddler leaves behind, it only takes a couple of minutes to look back and clear away. Even if you don't leave your table spotless I am more than sure that the staff will appreciate the gesture.

BE PREPARED TO LEAVE

Even the most well-planned meal can turn into a complete dining disaster when an unpredictable toddler is involved. If things get really ugly, you may have only one choice: Take your food to go, put your child to sleep, and then enjoy your meal at home.

It is always a good idea to make sure that your are prepared when dining out with a toddler, you can't always anticipate a meltdown. So sometimes you have to expect the unexpected. By making sure you're prepared for anything, your family dining experience doesn't have to be so daunting. The more you go out to the restaurant with your toddler, the better you will become in dealing with anything that they throw at you, peas included. HAPPY DINING!
4 comments on "HOW TO SURVIVE EATING OUT WITH A TODDLER"
  1. Lol. NEVER EVER with the tired toddler! Amen! Great tips here. It's easier to stay at home but on the rare occasions where it goes without incident, you TOTALLY feel like you're beating the system! :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. We've always eaten out with our kids, and I think your advice about choice of establishment is the best one. Starting out with child-friendly places gives confidence to both the child and parent! I love your photo by the way!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great tips as always - totally agree about not taking them when they are tired! Going out to eat has to be planned like a military operation in our family for optimum success! x

    ReplyDelete
  4. Such brilliant tips. Agree with all of them, especially the bag of tricks aka Mary Poppins bag!

    ReplyDelete

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