Dining out with the kids? Here’s how to make it a success

It’s Sunday afternoon, and you’re bone tired. The work-week is just a few hours away, and you’re already thinking about everything you’ve got to do come Monday morning. At least the kids will be back in school by then and you’ll have a moment to think, but in the meantime, there’s still Sunday night dinner to worry about. You could probably rustle up something for the munchkins to eat, but then you’d have to clean up after them.

All you want is to have someone make a meal for you, but dragging your kids to a restaurant isn’t worth the hassle, right? I mean, they’re gonna make a mess, take forever to order, and disrupt the other diners – meaning you’ll spend the entire meal trying to avoid the stink eye from table 4.

There’s no way around it: Eating out with your kids can be a nightmare. But if you follow these rules, you just might survive.

  • Research: Like any intricate mission, a meal out with the rugrats requires research and reconnaissance. So while you’re still at home, check out the menu online and figure out what everyone – including you — is going to eat. Check for nearby parking, too. And make sure your restaurant of choice is actually open, because there’s nothing worse than building your kids up for an exciting outing and then not being able to come through. Bottom line: put in the time before you leave home, and you increase your chances of success.
  • Arrive early: Sure, you’d probably rather go out around 6 or 7, but chances are you’ll have to battle lineups at that hour. That’s not going to go over well with the kids. Why not make it an early dinner instead? The restaurant likely won’t be that busy, meaning you’ll have your choice of tables (take a corner booth) and the full attention of the staff (which means your food will come quicker). And don’t worry about getting hungry again later – it’s not like the kids are going to eat all that mac and cheese they made you order for them.
  • Bring distractions: A colouring book, their favourite stuffed animals, whatever. As long as it keeps the kids occupied, it’ll do. The kids will appreciate having an activity, and everyone else in the restaurant will appreciate the quiet. Hell, they might be distracted enough for you to order a soothing adult beverage.
  • Leave a big tip: No matter how diligent you are, chances are you’ll be leaving a big mess when you leave. There’s bound to be rogue cutlery littering the floor, a mound of ketchup on the table and an empty napkin holder to re-fill. Someone’s gotta clean up after you. Show them you appreciate the effort.

Congratulations, you made it through one of life’s more difficult ordeals. Give yourself a pat on the back and pour yourself a nice tall glass of red. You deserve it.


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