From tantrums to food fights, eating out with the kids can be a challenge – especially if your little ones aren’t used to the bustle of a busy restaurant. To avoid public meltdowns (by you, as well as the kids), we’ve some simple hacks to help you enjoy a slightly calmer evening. FYI, it’s all about planning ahead…
It may seem obvious but choosing restaurants with kids’ menus, like Carluccio’s, Frankie and Benny’s and Wagamama, is vital. Not only do they get to tuck into dishes prepared with little mouths in mind, but they also get to play grown-up and order from the waiter themselves. (Child-friendly restaurants = child-friendly waiters used to the endless questions.)
Tip: Keep an eye out for sneaky swap outs! Some restaurants offer healthy alternatives like sweet potato chips instead of fries so you can make sure they’re getting some goodness.
Pick your timing
Why not head out around 5pm (little tummies are surely rumbling by then). This way you’ll avoid the buzz of the prime-time dinner slot and instead you can make the most of a quieter restaurant. Remember, emptier restaurants = faster food + less chance of hunger hissy fits…
Activities while you wait
Distraction tactics: keep little fingers busy while waiting for dinner to appear. Places like Café Rouge, TGI Fridays and Pizza Express have perfected their kids’ kits with their colouring sets, stickers and activity packs. But don’t leave it to chance. Either bring an iPad loaded with their favourite shows and make the most of free WiFi, or insist on screen-free dinners and pack favourite books or toys in your bag.
Tip: Take it one step further and ask Pizza Express about their pizza making parties for a full-on immersive experience!
It’s all in the planning
Knowing which restaurant you fancy before you go gives you an idea of what to expect. Things like bottle warming facilities or whether you can bring the buggy will determine your stress levels, so give them a call beforehand to check. After all, no one fancies trying to collapse the pushchair in an aisle no wider than the downstairs loo.
Tip: Look at the space between tables – is it enough to stop your mini-me from grabbing the spaghetti they’ve spotted on the table opposite? Think, arm’s-length!
Let them get stuck in
Ah, the all-important after dinner treat. Never underestimate the power of dessert as persuasion for good behaviour. Some restaurants also offer up some healthy alternatives to their favourites, like Nando’s - where you can swap a sundae for frozen yogurt. The best bit? The kids can get involved and use the self-serve machine themselves. Did we mention it’s bottomless? That means seconds for you - spot on!
Now you’re armed with our tips and tricks, it’s time to bite the teething toy and finally organise a family night out. Good luck!
Why not try: Bill’s, Handmade Burger Co. and Chimichanga
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