Eating out can be an exercise in frustration for all involved, you, your young children, the staff and fellow patrons. But before you give up all together, there are things you can do to help the experience go smoothly, or at the very least smoother than the time before.
When your dinner guest needs to use a booster seat to see you over the salt and pepper shakers, you need put a few things into practice;
Choose Wisely. Pick the restaurant not according to how many stars it has receive or how white the table cloths are, in fact it is wise to run from those establishments if you want to enjoy your meal. Look for family restaurants, the ones with visible high chairs and booster seats, place mats and kid’s menus. If you have had bad trips in the past, ease back in by going at off-peak hours. The staff will have more time and you will have a smaller audience in case something goes wrong.
Dress Appropriately. Restaurants can be drafty, stuffy or anywhere in between depending upon where you are seated. Dress the child in layers and bring a jacket just in case. As for you, wear clothing that is stain resistant if at all possible. A crying, messy child can quickly transfer great quantities of food to your outfit.
Prepare. Hungry children can be hard to handle. Consider placing your order ahead of time so that your wait will be cut short. You can also bring a small snack that takes a long time to eat, like a plastic container of dry cereal. Bring your own collection of clean-up supplies as well; a warm washcloth in a baggie, wet wipes, soft dry washcloths. Save your waiter the frustration and responsibility of bringing a never ending supply of napkins.
Distract. Bring small toys, board books, crayons, action figures or an easy game to distract your child from the fact they are sitting still waiting for food. Keep something new up your sleeve in case all the regulars fail to do their job. A small dollar store surprise may make or break your meal.
Sight-see. Another strategy when dining with a group of people, is to place your order and then take your child for a walk. On a nice day this could be a short stroll outside, or a walk around a nearby store.
Stay Calm. Focus on maintaining control of your emotions. Smile and talk calmly to a stressed out child. If you are on edge and just waiting for something to go wrong, you won’t have to wait long! No matter how carefully prepared you are though, there will most likely be something to remember from your dining adventures.
Bail. If your child melts down and from previous experience you know they have passed the point of no return, then by all means bail out. Ask the wait staff to box up your meals and say adieu.