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!

Tips:

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.

  • My kids went everywhere with me. We only went to family friendly events though so we didn’t experience ‘those looks’ from people who thought we shouldn’t be somewhere with our kids

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  • Your children need to learn to stay at the table at home first so they understand
    If we are going out with friends and we are likely to sit there for awhile if the restruant is very quiet(not many people there) I take a couple of colouring in books and pencils. When the staff have cleared their dishes I allow them to have them. Apart from needing to go to the toilet (they are not allowed to go alone) they know they have to sit there, not run a riot. Recently a staff member had to speak to one Mum because on two occasions her son ran across and the staff just missed bumping into him with hot food. Later he was playing next to the entry/exit door. One of her friends got up and got him. His Mum wasn’t even watching him. Ggrrrrr!!!!!

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  • long time, no writey lol

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  • This is interesting! Thank you for sharing this!

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  • When we were kids my parents and their friends would always take us out to dinner with them and when we were sleepy they would lay blankets under the table for us to lie on. We have taken our baby out to dinner in a stroller and she has been great, so far. We intend to continue this as it means they get to learn sleeping in different environments.

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  • I mostly agree with you but if your children are behaving badly do you leave?
    I have had a wonderful evening out that I had been anticipating for some time ruined by noisy rude children and parents that have no self discipline let alone can discipline their children.
    I mean, not everyone can afford to eat out all the time, so when we do it’s a special occasion.
    So some places should definitely be a NO go area for kids.

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  • i remember the first time we took the kids out and there was the biggest mess! we apologised but they were just really happy that the kids enjoyed themselves and we have been back there many times because they make us feel welcome. places that advertise being family friendly are the best ones

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  • Thanks for sharing this interesting article. It is important for kids to get out and about, otherwise how do they learn.

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  • I agree that parents should take their kids out to dinner – and the more who do, the more acceptable it might become to others, like it is in many other countries – however I must say I find it utterly exhausting!

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  • Yes! Children need to have civilised experiences as well as kiddy friendly ones. We aren’t doing anyone a favour if we let children think every place is for running or climbing. I love it how my grandchildren become paragons of virtue when they see another child not being civilised. “Nana, we came out to have a nice time and they are spoiling it!” . I have to turn my face to hide my amusement at how pleased they are to point out somebody else’s faults. Oh their manners become impeccable too.

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  • Few things are more irritating, and guaranteed to upset people when they’re out, than other people’s children who are let run wild by their parents. By all means take the kids with you when you go out and about, be please do have consideration for others, and if your child is willfully misbehaving and causing a disturbance that is affecting other people’s enjoyment of their time out, then it is up to you to take charge. Simply smiling and saying “Oh now don’t be a naughty boy” and promptly ignoring your child who continues to misbehave, can test the patience and temper of even the most forgiving person.

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  • I took my little one out from when he was very little and think more mothers should do that.

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  • thank you for the article,recently my daughter just always good when eating out, normally all disaster for us.

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  • I have never liked travelling with the kids, and do prefer to stay at home when I can, its just too much pain if the trip is not needed

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  • Thanks for this article – really helpful! definitely agree with getting an early booking

    Reply

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