Eating out as a family is a wonderful way to spend time together, celebrate a special occasion, or just enjoy a night off cooking and washing up. But when our children are young, eating out can be stressful. If your kids are fussy or they struggle to sit at a table, you might have had off-putting experiences eating in restaurants in the past. But that doesn’t mean that you should avoid it together. Eating out can be fun, relaxing, a great chance to chat away from distractions, and an effective way to introduce your children to new foods. Here are some tips to help you to enjoy successful family meals in your favourite restaurants.
Pack Familiar Tableware
Young children like familiarity and routine. They are comfortable when things are the same and can be overwhelmed by change. This can affect their behaviour and will certainly make it harder to eat. Children can also find it hard to eat in some restaurants as they don’t provide smaller cutlery or tableware to make things easier. Taking their favourite cup, plate and cutlery can help them to feel settled and make it easier for them to eat independently.
Before we have children, many of us are guilty of making judgements. We think we’ll never let our kids play on tablets or phones in restaurants, but really, how much different is it to our parents packing colouring books and pens to keep us occupied? Whether you choose electronics, or games and colouring books, it’s a good idea to pack a few things to keep them entertained.
Check The Menu Before You Go
Most restaurants, such as urban-tandoor.com offer a chance to look at menus online before you visit. Doing this gives you a chance to make sure there are foods that your children are familiar with and enjoy. It also means you can plan what they’ll eat, and prepare them beforehand, which can make the trip seem less overwhelming.
Get Food On The Table Quickly
Children get hungrier faster than adults and they aren’t as good at dealing with it. So, if possible, order their food to come first, or order starters that they can pick at while they wait.
Try Different Things
You might want to start with familiar foods that you know they’ll enjoy, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with chicken nuggets and chips once in a while. But try to add different options, perhaps as sides and extras, or by encouraging your children to try your meals as well. Praise them for trying new things, even if they don’t like them.
Make Even Simple Meals An Occasion
If you are going out for dinner, even to your local family pub, make it special. Let your children wear their favourite clothes and choose their own food. When they are a little older, consider letting them invite a friend.
Family meals out can be a wonderful thing but take it slowly. Start with familiar restaurants and foods, before gradually introducing new flavours, settings, and cuisines. This is a great way to make sure your children have healthy relationships with food and great social skills which will serve them well as they grow.