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Remember before you had kids? Your entire family unit
the two of
could dine out anywhere.. Now its the five of you. Sometimes you
get a sitter and go out as a couple, but its also nice to dine out as a
family. Its time to try something a step up from the usual pizza place.
Taking the children to a restaurant can either be a fun adventure or a
complete disaster. How do you make it work?
- Ask your friends where their
families eat out. Check out the restaurant in advance. Drop by before
committing yourself to a family evening there.
- Know your children. Some quiet,
attentive kids can sit still and use good table manners in almost any
restaurant. Some active, impulsive kids may not tolerate a restaurant
with slow service or low noise levels. Some children cannot tolerate
noisy places and prefer a calmer, quieter restaurant.
- Prepare the children in advance.
Explain the expectations, and motivate them to rise to the challenge.
- Match the meal to your childrens
tastes. Does your child like to be adventurous and try new flavors, or
does he prefer to stick to familiar foods? Is desert a good motivator
for polite behavior?
- Decide whether to take all of your
children at once. If parents have two children, they can play one on
one. With three or more, its more like zone defense.
- Children often do well at a
buffet. They see the actual food, serve themselves quickly and make
choices. Buffet food tends to be less exotica plus for
- Some family-run ethnic restaurants
are more tolerant of children. Their own children may have been hanging
around the kitchen for years. (Do not assume that all ethnic restaurants
are this way.)
- If the restaurant does not own a
high chair, they are telling you something.
- Try not to take them out to eat
when they are tired.
- Tip well, especially if
your children have been noisy or messy. If you get a good waiter, ask
for his table again next time. Attentive staff can make a meal more
enjoyable. If they remember you, your family may get superior service.
- Pay the check before you actually
intend to leave. If your children begin to get frazzled, you can make a
Carol E. Watkins, M.D.
and Whine: Dining Out With Children
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