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Dining Out with Kids – Are You Ready?

Getting back into the routine of packing school lunches, homework, and the parent taxi service is now in full swing. And, like many parents, you find yourself thinking a night out without having to deal with what’s in the freezer or those dreaded leftovers that will not go away is exactly what everyone needs. You have decided to take the family out for supper – to a restaurant, where the menu does not hang on the wall behind the cash register.
It is amazing how different a restaurant meal can be without the children and what a challenge it can easily turn into sometimes when our children join us. The arguments about where to sit, spilled drinks, wasted food, and the ever popular, “I don’t like anything here”, make eating out something parents want to avoid instead of a family treat that everyone can look forward to.
As parents we forget that eating out is a skill that our children need to learn – just like any other skill. Expecting young children to behave perfectly on their first visit to a restaurant is like expecting them to know how to play soccer without knowing all of the rules. It just make doesn’t make sense.
A few things that parents should try to keep in mind before you decide to go out for supper with the kids are:

  • Look for a restaurant that is kid friendly. Restaurants like this typically have activity sheets and crayons for the kids to play with while they are waiting for their meal.
  • Pack your own restaurant activity kit to take with you that includes quiet games, a favourite toy, or a box of crayons and a small pad of paper.
  • Does the restaurant have a children’s menu? Having a menu specifically for children will make your meal much more enjoyable. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to convince a child that spinach quiche sitting on their plate will taste as good as the burger and fries they were hoping for.
  • Review the rules together before you leave home for supper. Explain the consequences if they act up and be prepared to follow through with them.
  • As our children get older, and you become more confident that they will behave themselves, let them sit at a table on their own with a sibling or friend. Not only will this be fun for them, but it can feel like a night out for you at your now “table for two”.
  • Most importantly, remember to praise your children on a job well done at the restaurant if everything went okay. Tell them what you were proud of and give specific examples such as; “I really liked how you said please and thank you to our waiter” or “I am so pleased at how you were able to sit and wait for our food to arrive”.

Parenting can be one of the most challenging and rewarding jobs you will ever have. If you can simplify even one small part of your life with your children then it will greatly improve the quality and quantity of time that you will spend with them. Your job as mom or dad will become easier and a lot more fun. After all, isn’t that what raising children should be. Your investment in your children now will bring great rewards later!
If you would like more information on parenting or programs for children and youth please contact our Coordinator of Child & Youth Services at or call 902-765-5611.


Previous articles:

Back to School – Let the Morning Madness Begin!
Welcome to The Dad Club!​
Routines for Children
The Stress Stoplight: Helpful & Unhelpful Thoughts  
Parenting during COVID-19 – Feeling Good about Yourself
The Feelings Tree
Potential Behaviours of Children Experiencing Deployment