Do you enjoy a nice meal out? Do you want to expose your toddler to a real restaurant? I do! I love a really good meal, and I want my toddler to experience those things with me. My hope is that he’ll continue to be an adventurous eater. My hope is that he’ll continue to be able to sit through a meal without an epic tantrum. I hope that exposure is the defining factor in how he lives his life and how he behaves as he gets older. Secretly, I hope it’ll make it easier for sister as she gets older as well. Also, I don’t want to give up things I love just because I’m a mom. I deserve a nice meal without ALWAYS have to pay a babysitter. Do you want to know something? You do too!
You won’t have an amazing experience EVERY time, but you can manage to do pretty well most of the time with a few tips and patience.
- Stay away from right before nap or bedtime.
- Make a reservation for an off peak hour. This will minimize distractions and over stimulation.
- Choose a time not too long after the child’s last meal/snack. They eat frequently and you don’t want them to be starving
- Order their meal when you first sit down.
- Pick a place that has food they will enjoy or pack your own for them.
- Choose food that is easily reheated at home.
- Make sure it isn’t too noisy and there is an easy escape route in case of a tantrum.
- Talk to your child about the menu/their choices.
- Bring it for the wait. We use educational apps and videos during this time.
- Pack your child’s favorite toy for them to play with at the table. Tayo the Little Bus goes EVERYWHERE we go.
- Set your expectations low the first few times.
- Keep your tone calm and be very patient
I follow all these rules EVERY time we eat out! This doesn’t mean you’ll never have a meltdown. We handle those by taking our child outside and away from the situation since these meltdowns are often related to overstimulation or tiredness (which happens sometimes no matter how much you plan!). Most of the time, we are able to bring our toddler back to the table as if it never happened, but you should always have an escape route planned.
- Decide who will stay at the table and who will take your child outside.
- Communicate with each other about whether or not your toddler can rejoin the party
- The parent who stays gets the bill and boxes for the meals if the order has been placed.
Now you are fully prepared for an awesome meal out with your toddler. Where are you going to go?