Going Out to Eat with Kids (8 TIPS!)

Going out to eat with kids does not have to be stressful, it's just one of those things that takes some practice over time. If you're feeling nervous about going out to a restaurant with your small children, here are 8 things to consider and help put your mind at ease!

Out to Eat with Kids

Going Out to Eat with Kids:

Last year one of our New Year's goals was to go out to a restaurant with the kids once per month. We didn't exactly hit the once-per-month goal, but we did go out to eat quite a bit and it helped refine the skills we wanted to work on with our children. There were some things we learned along the way to make this process easier, so hopefully some of these ideas will work for you as well!

Bring a Jacket in Case the Restaurant is Cold:

This is a new one we learned this summer, but has been a game changer. They keep restaurants so cold in the summer, and oftentimes we wouldn't have a jacket with us because we were just outside doing something. The kids would complain nonstop about how cold they were. Solution? Now I keep jackets in my bag for the kids and if they get cold I can bust them out at a moment's notice.

Be Flexible:

The things you think are a big deal are not a big deal at all. Turns out everyone else in a restaurant is so focused on what's happening at their table that no one is really worried about what is going on at yours. Kinsley recently dumped a bunch of parmesan cheese on her plate and was licking it up face first. She was content and happy, we did make her stop eventually, but if I got bent out of shape about that, I would have made a much bigger scene than she was.

out to eat with kids

Have Your Kids Order Their Food:

We started this "project" because we wanted the kids to learn social skills and how to interact with other people when out in public. So from the beginning, we've always made the kids tell the waiter what they wanted to eat instead of Derek and I doing it for them. They were shy at first, and Derek and I would have to repeat what they said for the waiter, but it's something they're getting better at over time.

No Phones Except...

We have a hard no-phone rule, as in Derek and I aren't allowed to scroll while at the table with the kids. Phones are okay if we're taking a picture, or if we're trying to show the kids something that will enhance the overall dinner conversation, otherwise the phones are gone.

Make it Special:

Make it special for your kids. We always tell them that this is, "Family Date Night". They know that means we're going into a restaurant, and that the kids are the primary focus of the night, not Derek and I. We are dating our kids at this moment, not trying to have a date with each other, and then micromanaging the kids when they're interrupting us. The focus is on them. Talk to them, and play it up that this night is about connecting with them and getting to know what's going on in their lives right now.

out to eat with kids

Go Early:

We always try to get to the restaurant right at 5 pm. It's never our goal to wait for 20+ minutes for a table (A goal we could work on but one we're not eager about at the moment). We want to get in and out relatively quickly while spirits are high, and avoiding peak busy times is one way we try to do that.

Ask for the Check When the Waiter Brings Your Meals:

The second the waiter brings our food I immediately ask for the check. I don't want to have to wait around for another 20 minutes after we've eaten our food waiting for it since that seems to be the time when the kids start to pick at each other the most. Usually by the time we're done eating the meal is already paid for and we can split while spirits are still high.

Don't Micromanage Food Choices:

Family date night is not the time I'm trying to make sure my kids have eaten their broccoli and I'm concerned about them hitting all their nutritional needs for the night. I let them order whatever they want from the kid's menu, and they get to decide how much or how little they eat. There are other skills we're working on when we go out to eat, and vegetables are a skill to work on at home, not in public.

out to eat with kids

These are all my best tips for going out to eat with your kids. If there is something your family does that I didn't mention, let me know in the comments below! 

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