It can be a daunting task eating out with younger children, but its also an amazing opportunity for the kids to get out and experience new foods and practice those table manners. Mine are 5,3 and two months old and I have had my fair share of restaurant disasters. Here are some of my tips on surviving, no scrap that; ENJOYING your family meal out.
If you know where you are going in advance then google, Facebook, Instagram, twitter anything to see if you can get the low down on the menu, facilities and layout. If you don’t have an exact location yet then look at the area and check out potential options, Only last week I was going to review a place but I was stopped at the first hurdle, I came across a review on a Facebook mummy group from a rather irate mother, who just wanted a coffee and a spot of lunch that the mentioned establishment do not allow prams inside; so for me with a new born, that was the end of that. Quite often if you have a particular request, most restaurants are more than happy to accommodate, Even better if they know in advance. Do not feel afraid to call ahead and ask for a certain dish or even a certain table location.
Ok so not all places have an amazing kids menu or a crèche for the kids so parents can eat in peace (chance will be a fine thing!) but that does not mean you cannot go. I often have a little stash of things from the pound shop like surprise eggs or a superhero colouring book and crayons set. These can act as a brilliant thing to keeps the kids entertained while you order/wait for food. All else fails ? Technology … tablets or similar doesn’t matter and its only for 20 minutes (yes I really did admit I let my kids use technology, its ok once in a while !) Always, always get a toilet trip out of the way. Bet your last Rolo that they will suddenly decide they are bursting to use the loo halfway through dinner, Que you running through a restaurant with your child under arm in rugby hold.
Plan to Fail
So the idea of eating out sounds good ? No washing up and maybe eating something you really enjoy, cannot cook at home or a new cuisine ? But with children, often the reality is stressful and not a joyous experience. Just getting the kids dressed and into the car is a feat in its self ! I used to be so anxious that my child would have a dreaded toilet accident at the table or scream, run around the restaurant and everyone give me the disapproving stare, but actually unless you are at a Michelin starred bistro on a Saturday night filled with people on anniversary dinners, Majority of places are full with families or at least used to having them around. Its us that feel the shame of it all and it can make us feel stressed an in turn that projects on the whole family and even the staff . So just relax and if you feel you are failing that day at parenting, you are probably not at all ! So what if the kids are under the tables or screeching at the top of their lungs for no apparent reason, They are happy that’s all that matters.
Sara Saleh: Mum to three, telecoms consultant and a qualified beauty therapist. My ramblings are mainly about what my family eat, our recipes, and reviews of halal food joints with an emphasis on how family friendly they are.