If you have a toddler like me, eating out at a restaurant can be anything but relaxing.
Between standing up in the booth to peer over the top at the annoyed patrons sitting behind you, to the constant kicking of the seat and of course the spilling and dropping of everything on the floor can be enough to make you run from the place muttering apologies to everyone you come in contact with.
Well, don’t despair. It is possible to not only survive a dinner out, but actually enjoy it.
Here are some tips I learned along the way:
Feed your child before you go
That’s right. You want to give your little munchkin a small snack to satisfy any large hunger attacks before you can get the food ordered. Low blood sugar combined with the excitement of eating somewhere new can make your child dance like they have ants in their pants. Feeding something like a few crackers with cheese, peanut butter or a piece of fruit will help take the edge off. Also make sure your child is well rested.
Look at the menu online before you go
Take a few minutes to go online and check out the menu before you go. That way when you arrive and the waitress asks for your drink order, you can order your meal right then, saving time. Also, to save money order water with lemon – it’s free, you save calories and your toddler won’t be begging to have some of your pop. Also check for coupons and discounts while you are online.
Ask your waitress to bring take home boxes and the check with your meal
This is a good idea in case things begin to unravel and you need to make a hasty exit. You can scrape your still hot food into the boxes, pay your bill and high tail it out of there. Then maybe later after the kiddos are in bed, you and your spouse can have that nice dinner, albeit a little soggy.
Another reason for ordering to go boxes with your meal is you can put half of your portion in the box right away saving calories. I know when I eat out, I want to scrape my plate clean even if I get full half way through the meal, because after all, I’m paying for this food! So I like to put half of my large portioned, delicious meals away for calorie savings and to give me another meal the next day. If everyone does this, you won’t have to cook the next day’s dinner! Yea!
Ask for some crackers or bread when they bring the drinks
This is a must to help keep your starving toddler under control till the main course comes, especially if you weren’t able to give them a little snack earlier.
Always ask for extra napkins and utensils when you order
Trust me, you will need the extra utensils to replace the ones your child drops on the floor. And what extra napkins you don’t use you can stash in your purse for future messes.
Bring new activities with you
Some restaurants provide crayons and a menu to color, but that doesn’t always satisfy every toddler longer than 30 seconds so bring a new toy or activity with you. This would be something they either haven’t seen before or at least in a long while. A new toy car, doll or puzzle will mesmerize your child until the food comes.
Bring your own straws
Most restaurants do not provide those great bendy straws, so bring your own. My toddler always used to spill his drink as he tipped his cup trying to sip out of straight straws. So I bought a cheap travel toothbrush holder like you see here:
and placed my own bendy straws inside. They fit perfectly and I can stash it in my purse.
Taste your child’s drink and food
There have been incidents where a young child was accidently served an alcoholic beverage. So be sure to test that water or apple juice to make sure it’s what you ordered as well as the food to make sure it was cooked thoroughly.
Let your child sample your meal
Try and encourage your child to sample your meal. Introducing them to new foods might be easier in a restaurant as everything is new and they are more curious. If they like the meal, you can always go online to get the recipe. Here’s a link to restaurant recipes if you’re interested: Free eCookbook - 17 New Top Secret Restaurant Copycat Recipes Free eCookbook Click Here
Double check you have everything before you go
Make sure you do a quick check on chairs, booths and on the floor for any dropped favorite toys and your purse. Forgetting something is easily done when you are trying to unstick your legs from the booth seat and your toddler is already half way out to the parking lot.
Leave a nice tip
Waiters and waitresses work hard and most will draw straws to try and avoid getting the table with the little kids. They know they will have to make more trips and clean up more messes. Since eating out is usually a treat, go ahead and thank your server with at least a 25% tip and more if they went out their way to help you have a more enjoyable time. Chances are they have little ones too, and know what you’re going through!
Remember to relax and have a good time
Come prepared, don’t expect perfection and you will have a great time. And if things all fall apart and you find yourself running for the door with your screaming and kicking toddler under one arm while dodging dinner rolls being thrown at you from the other patrons, chances are they won’t remember you in a month or so.
~If you are a stay-at-home mom who has ever struggled to make ends meet, or a working mother who would like to transition to a business that allows you to spend more time with your family, then Project MAHMA is for you!
Project MAHMA(Moms at Home Making A Difference…and a Lot of Money!) is a global coalition of moms (and dads) who are earning an income from home and giving themselves the gift of freedom— including more time with their families—while at the same time offering others the gift of better health and a better life.
Visit us on the Web at: Project MAHMA