Having an opportunity to go out to eat with the children doesn’t mean giving up on restaurants. Here are a few trustworthy suggestions on how to dine out together—and maybe even enjoy it! *
1. Book a Table an Hour Earlier Than You’re Used to.
“I’m sorry, all we have is 5:30” should be an opportunity, not a heart-sinker. Kids have a shelf life and tolerance level that is measured by how long! Pick a time that is ‘kid appropriate’. It’s so much easier to snag a table at that popular restaurant—and there will be fewer people to offend when your grandchild decorates your white pants with her ragù.
2. Make the Kids Order for Themselves
For most of us as kids, we would just look at the adults when the waiter asked what you wanted. Make a point to teach children that a restaurant is a good place to master the art of looking people in the eyes and, you know, using their mouths to speak.
3. Take the Booth
It’s more private, more comfortable, and more fun for the kids. Also, it’s much easier to hide when they challenge all notions of civilized society.
4. Discourage Devices
We feel badly being ‘judgy’ about this one because a) smartphones barely existed when our kids were in terrorist toddler mode, and b) we’re hopelessly addicted to our devices. Plus, it’s so easy, so effective to hand a child an iPad and get on with your meal. But it’s just as easy (though maybe not as effective) to hand them a deck of cards or a few pieces of paper, or any other analog distraction without that dissociative quality. (There is a sub-rule, lest we model the behavior we’re trying to curb: Parents must do their best to refrain as well.) That said, desperate times…
5. Get French Fries
These are a great kid-pleaser and have never not worked!
6. Do Dessert at Home
Every minute that passes in a restaurant with kids under the age of five brings you one minute closer to meltdown. For dessert, best to pull the rip cord and do Oreo milkshakes at home. (With extra Oreos if this is a hard sell.)
7. Order One New Thing
8. Model good table manners
If you want your grandchildren to behave in a respectful way and adhere to fine table manners, then remember to be the leader. Be patient with them. Praise their good behavior. Let them know that silverware and plates are not musical instruments. And have some fun!
*Portions of the article reprinted from: www.bonappetit.com