There comes a time when you want to take the kids out for something other than fast food. However, doing so can be a challenge. How do you keep the kids entertained? Do you have snacks prepared? If so, are they yummy enough to keep them wanting more?
All this and more will be explained below in my comprehensive guide to eating out with small children.
Rule #1: Do not, under any circumstances, take small children to a sit down restaurant!
That's it. There's only one rule. If you wish to keep your blood pressure in check, and your embarrassment level to a minimum, avoid restaurants. I know you're thinking, it isn't that bad, my kids behave pretty well. I'll never be those parents... the ones with the unruly kids that they can't keep in line and are always disrupting the dinner conversation.
I too was once so naive. I remember it like it was yesterday, probably because my wife and I recently made the mistake of breaking rule #1.
The day started out well enough. The the kids were locked and loaded in the car for a post-church lunch. In our bag of tricks my wife had planned for every scenario. Our inventory looked something like this:
- Full bag of Cheerios
- Full bag of Animal Crackers
- No less than 3 gallons of water
- Roughly 1/2 gallon of juice
- 12oz. of milk
- Barbies x2
- Super special stripey blanket for Princess P
- Special K's blanket
- Beads on a string
- Toy rings (to attach to beads, etc. so that Special K couldn't throw them on the floor)
- Rattle and assorted other baby toys
- Spare diaper
- Spare clothes for Special K
We were prepared for anything that came our way. If either kid needed nourishment, clothing, or entertainment we had it covered. However, there were two needs we didn't prepare for.
The need to break open a can of discipline
Princess P had been behaving well enough, and then it happened... Special K managed to grab hold of a few of Princess P's golden locks. Princess P decided this was just the type of thing that required her to lose her mind, start crying, shrieking, and being inconsolable. After giving her ample time to calm down, she was removed from the situation, and shown the err of her ways. However, mere moments later she decided it would be best if she lose it in front of everyone again. It was awesome.
The need for a muzzle
Special K yips like a little dog. She will let out piercing screams, followed by an immediate return to being her jovial self. If I didn't know better I'd say that she has baby tourette's syndrome. Fortunately, our waitress was able to hear enough of our order through the screams that we were able to get some food. Unfortunately, Special K didn't stop yipping the entire time we were at the restaurant.
Take this as a cautionary tale, and don't forget rule #1. Do not, under any circumstances, take small children to a sit down restaurant (unless it's Red Robin.... I love that place, and it's so noisy it doesn't matter if the kids scream)!