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September 02, 2004

Comments

AGK

We really don't go out that often. We find we'd rather spend that money on other things. But when we go, we make the best of it, desserts and all :) Alone? Hmmm...I dunno know!

Melissa S

We go out to eat a lot (both with and without kids at least once a week), which explains our budget issues!

Each of our kids has a little lunchbox and we have them put some small toys of their choice in the lunchbox before we leave.

There is a brewpub near our house we love to go to and so do a lot of families in our area. We refer to it as 'Romper Room Brewpub'.

Marcia

We eat dinner out as a family at least once per weekend (usually Saturday night), with occasional breakfasts and lunches out too. We've taken the girls (ages 3 & 5) to restaurants form the beginning and have taught them how to act while there.

As mentioned, being prepared is key. Depending where we're going, we may bring them a snack and/or some kind of quiet activity.

Oftentimes other customers come up to us and tell us how well behaved the kids are. I'm not saying they're perfect, but they generally do very well, mostly because we don't accept any other kind of behavior.

Philip

I share sprout's philosophy: the only way children learn to act properly in restaurants is to experience them. I take my three kids, ages 5, 2, and 10 months to breakfast four or five days a week (it's a second breakfast for them, since they eat oatmeal etc. right when they get up). I let them draw, explore the newspaper (they love the map of the weather, comic pages, looking for cool pictures), and learn how to eat fun, easy food like pancakes, omelets, etc. I get to read the front section of the paper, and drink coffee. I take the older two to all manners of restaurants--I actually prefer nicer places, because it's not so raucous and I insist that my kids show exemplary behavior. An appetizer will serve as a meal at such places, and they love getting "dressed up."

As far as waiting goes--I don't like to wait even if I don't have the kids--if you go early then there's usually no wait involved. And nicer places are usually not full during the week.

If your kids don't like to wait for food (I infer that they get ancy without anything to do?) I suggest you ask for crackers, bread, something that is premade like a side salad as soon as they come to take your drink order (or bring it yourself), or bring a big fat coloring book with plenty of crayons and/or pens. Keep involved with them and show them how it is fun to be out.

Pizza places are fun, too, because it's usually a relaxed atmosphere and if you go often enough, some places will let your kids "build their own pizza" with some dough, a ramekin of sauce and a ramekin of cheese. Then they get to watch it slide into the brick oven and cook.

I'd say the more social settings you can get your kids into at a young age, the better prepared they're going to be later on for all the interaction they're going to face, the more fun you and your spouse will have (escaping the routine of the house, feeling like a part of the world, etc.), and the better behaved they will be in all situations (each time, they will get better and better...).

daddydaycare

About 3 times a week for us with three kids under 3. Insane, you say? Well, it's easier to have someone serve you than to cook in a kitchen with ankle-biters all over the place and we don't have to clean up! Target sells small crayola backpacks that we fill with crayons and toys and we can usually last through a 50 minute meal. We've found that the more we venture out, the easier it is. Of course, living in a major metropolis area gives you many more choices. Good restaurants for kids -- pizza parlors, obviously. Red Lobster is very kid friendly. One other tip -- save costs by feeding the kids (kids meals) and then split an entree between the two of you. It's SO romantic that way! (grin)

emily

We are so blessed to have not one,but two great restaurants that have a kids area.Complete with several people that are employed to watch them while mommy and daddy enjoy a quiet meal and a drink.We go there as often as we can.They both overlook the beach and are so relaxing.We try to go out without them about once a month.

sprout

Our belief is that the only way children learn to act properly in restaurants is to experience them so we've been taking our daughters out about once a week since they were each a week old. That said, we don't do fine dining but do go to places such as TGIFridays and the like where there is a wait for our meals. Our 3.5 year old has been ordering her own dinners since she was about 2.5 years old. We don't stick around if the girls misbehave or act out and occasionally we will walk around out in a waiting area with the younger one (2yrs minus 9 days old)if she is having a hard time sitting in her seat but other than that they are expected to sit and draw or read books while we wait or we talk or play I Spy.

Lei

We hardly ever go out for dinner anymore because its prime meltdown time for our toddler. He's ok at home during in the evenings but with the many restrictions when eating out, he can't handle it. He does do relatively fun for lunches as long as we start eating around 11:30 or sooner. Any later and it starts getting closer to naptime. So I know exactly how you feel! My husband would like for us to dine out without him sometime, but we haven't managed to do that yet.

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