As we enter the summer months, many states are lifting pandemic restrictions and allowing indoor dining. After going months without dining out, your family can now enjoy the experience of eating a delicious meal and spending quality time with those you love.
For some parents, the idea of going into a restaurant is overwhelming and anxiety-provoking. Kids tend to get restless while waiting for their food to arrive or overtired if it's late at night. The last thing you want is for your child to throw a tantrum and draw attention to your table.
However, not all families are alike. It's a good idea to have an understanding of your family dynamic before dining out. Take into consideration whether your family feels like eating out or prefers staying in.
Going out to eat with family allows you to create memories that last a lifetime. When you prepare your kids to go into a restaurant, the time you spend with them will be much more enjoyable.
To have a delightful dining experience, be sure to follow these tips before you make your reservation.
1. View the Menu Beforehand
Kids are often picky eaters, which is why kids' menus exist! Taking some time beforehand to look up a restaurant menu and explore your food options will save you frustration in the future.
Consider the kids' menu options as well as their regular menu. Let your children know what types of foods are available and plan your order ahead of time. Avoid fumbling around with the menu and arguing over what to eat — have your order ready when you arrive.
2. Dine at Kid-friendly Restaurants
Because many families dine out, more establishments are making their dining experience more kid-friendly. Some restaurants will take it a step further by creating a whole atmosphere that caters to children.
Dining at these restaurants removes the pressure you feel when going out to eat at a fancy, high-end restaurant. At a kid-friendly restaurant, you're able to watch your children have loads of fun and eat together as a family. It's the best of both worlds!
3. Bring Fun Table Activities
If you're looking to avoid breakdowns or tantrums, keeping your children occupied is your best bet. Before leaving to go to a restaurant, pack a small bag with some crayons or markers, coloring pages, books, or quiet toys that will give them something to do while waiting for their food.
It may be tempting to let your children use tablets or other smart devices at the dinner table. However, there are negative consequences that result from excessive screen time. Be sure to set a screen time policy with your children and limit their usage during the meal. Have a conversation with your family and assert that dinner time is device-free.
4. Practice Dining at Home
Playing a pretend game of restaurant at home with your children teaches them skills they'll need when you dine out. The best part — it's a ton of fun! You're able to use your creativity when you're playing imaginative games with your children.
Simulate a dining experience and show your kids how to use silverware and napkins. Children will understand the expectations you've set for them when you practice dining etiquette at home. You'll enter a restaurant confidently, knowing your family is prepared to be on their best behavior.
5. Consider Buffet-style or Family-style Dining
Buffets and family-style restaurants make dining out much easier for you. Kids love to pick out their own food, and it's a perfect opportunity for them to taste foods they've never tried before. Because buffets offer such variety, no one will go home hungry.
Family-style dining allows customers to order bigger portions for the entire table to share. It's similar to eating at home, but without the hassle of cooking! If your family eats smaller meals, ordering one large portion of your favorite menu item will prevent food waste.
6. Order Nutritious Meals
When someone else is serving you, it's easy to get carried away and order appetizers, entrees, drinks, and desserts. However, there are ways to keep nutrition in mind while dining out.
Always order water for the table rather than soft drinks or other sugary beverages. Use the appetizer course to fill up on vegetables or salad. When it's time to eat your entree, aim to eat half of the portion and take the rest home to eat as leftovers. Restaurant portions tend to be much larger than what you usually eat at home, and you'll get another meal for the next day!
Enjoy Dining With Family
Going out to dinner allows you to spend quality time with your loved ones. The days are getting longer, and you can even sit outside and enjoy the sunshine.
Be sure to follow these tips if you plan on dining out with your family this summer. Create lifelong memories with your favorite people and your favorite meal!