I have always believed that children should be exposed to as much as possible from an early age. I remember with my eldest, laying him on a blanket asleep on a café table so I could enjoy coffee with a friend. He was 2 weeks old.
This exposure includes taking them to restaurants. I know the looks you get when you enter a restaurant. The sly “oh no here we go, our night is ruined from here on in” We are judged. You can see it in their eyes. My aim- To prove them wrong!
I like to think we buck the trend. I am in no way suggesting my children are angels, they are most definitely not. We have had the tantys and uncontrollable crying at times. We have had wrestling matches in highchairs that Hulk Hogan would be proud of! I just never wanted to be confined to my home, and that has meant exposing them. I hear too often of people wanting only children friendly venues to attend. My argument with this is how are they going to learn to behave in other environments if the only place they know can let them wander around and play with toys from the germ ridden tub in the corner? Don’t get me wrong, children friendly places can be a god send. But there is a time and a place for fun and a time and a place for a more civilised experience. I don’t want to always be eating something that resembles an 80’s throw back. I want new age and I want it now!
So we expose, we take them to restaurants that we want to go to. We make them eat food that doesn’t resemble a battered ear on a plate. (chicken nugget) There are no chips to fall back on.
So we venture out, carefully treading where most don’t want to go, and you know what? 90% of the time it’s successful. They have tried new food, or at least eaten a bowl of rice. They sit for the required length of time. Whether restrained or otherwise. It might be the most rushed dinner you have ever eaten, but success can be measured by the fact you have gone out and survived the looks!
DO choose a restaurant that you know will take an early booking. A. Feeding them when they are hungry and B. Avoiding the rush. Restaurants can be a sensory overload.
DO choose a venue based on their Menu. If you know there are at least a couple of things they will eat-go for it. Some places will adapt. IE My children will happily eat “Chicken on a stick” The claytons Chicken Satay (no sauce) with rice.
DO praise your children for behaving so nicely whilst out.
DON’T worry if you get looks. Everyone was young once.
DON’T worry if you leave the table looking like a riot has just taken place. Apologise and smile.
The best part of an evening out, are the comments from the happy diners around you. To hear from a complete stranger how well behaved your children are is a great feeling. Even if they have missed my hissed behind my hand “behave or we leave” remarks.
So be brave, go out and try it – get out and about with children. You might just be surprised and trust me your taste buds will also thank you.