Is there anything more terrifying than taking a toddler to a restaurant? Just leaving the house with a toddler is a daunting task because of the sheer unpredictability of the age and stage of life.
So, Why chance it?
You can’t stay at home all day. It’s not good for anyone. Personally, my preference is to hit up a playground or nearby park. I figure tantrums are much less prominent in nature.
If a toddler tantrums in a forest and nobody is around to hear it, did the tantrum even happen?
But you can’t stay in the forest forever. Sometimes your kitchen is being torn apart, and your house is a disaster. In that situation a meal at a restaurant, no matter how traumatic, sounds like a better experience than staying at home.
With the kitchen renovation in full swing, I faced down one of my least favourite family activities: eating out. And we checked out this great restaurant and I decided to tell you all about it.
We are definitely not strangers to taking the kids out for dinner. I consider the art of not cooking to be one of my favourite hobbies. However, with two tiny children, I find myself cooking more often. Or ordering takeout!
But back to that restaurant scene with toddlers, and not just one toddler, but two because I have two toddlers. Remember when I was getting out with 2 under 2? Well, those kids grew up and now they are 2 under 3 and leaving the house is just a hoot.
Disclosure: At this point in this blog post, I’m going to tell you some of the links below are commissioned links in which I’ll earn a referral income from should you make a purchase. Also my pictures are from this summer and our trip to Prince Rupert and travel to Barkerville.
How to Eat At A Restaurant with a Toddler
There’s going to be those parents who say just don’t do it. There are also those parents that say just leave when they misbehave. I’m neither of those parents. I’m the hot mess millennial mom who doesn’t really care about expectations but would rather just like to leave the restaurant with her still in a mom bun.
- Choose a Restaurant Your Comfortable At.
- Take your toddler(s) to whatever restaurant you want as long as you feel comfortable taking your kid there.
- If you’re thinking “Boy, I’d love to go XYZ tonight but it does not really kid friendly,” then skip it. Go to a restaurant you feel welcome at. There’s absolutely no point in making the experience worse than it needs to be by feeling constrained by “expectations.”
- Customer Service is also king. Restaurants that rock at customer service gave me a much better overall experience compared to the lacklustre mediocre counterparts. A great server can really make or break it with kids.
- We only have kids once in our lives, embrace the pirate paks and kid-friendly restaurants in your neighbourhood.
- Order a drink and snack ASAP!
- Check the menu before you go and know what you’re going to order before you sit down.
- The object of the game is to get the food to the table as fast as possible. The less time waiting for = less cranky kids.
- If you dont know what you want, order the kids a drink and a side of bread/fries/veggies/soup/milkshakes to make it to mealtime.
- Bring a special activity.
- GAME CHANGER! Stop bringing whatever toy you want to the restaurant and have just one special activity for eating out. The Mama Knows told me this.
- This activity only comes out at the restaurant and isn’t played with at home.
- Here are some ideas:
- Tegu Magnetic Blocks (Find them in Canada | Find them in the USA) — yes these are expensive, but they are fascinating, captivating, and easy enough to stash away for quiet time.
- Fancy Crayons & Markers – colouring is overrated, but it’s even more intriguing if you have a special set of colours for the restaurant. We’re currently obsessed with gel crayons right now.
- Doodle Boards – I haven’t tried this but I saw this today and thought they would be the perfect fit for my “waiting quietly” bag of tricks.
- Or really any other puzzle, or busy activity, but the key is to make it special and only come out when at restaurants. Toy rotation does wonder in keeping a child occupied with something “new”
- Shake the Fear
- Toddlers can smell fear a mile away, and they just know if you don’t got it, then its open season. So pull it together because you can do this. You can take however many young children you want out for a meal and it’ll be okay.
- Shake the expectations too because remember they are toddlers and toddlers don’t give two hoots about the rest of the world and how society thinks they should act.
- They will not sit for an entire meal.
- They will throw their food on the floor.
- They will knock over drinks.
- They will want to eat the salt and pepper shaker.
- They will not be interested in the meal you ordered them.
- They will want ice cream.
- Sometimes you will have to leave the restaurant.
- It will be okay. Don’t lose your cool, and just be the cool parent. Being the cool parent for 2 hours at a restaurant will save your tush.
It’s going to be okay. You can totally do this. Eating out with a toddler is manageable, and truth be told, the worst case scenario is a screaming child with an iPhone watching paw patrol. And you gotta do what you gotta do. #reallifemom
It’s never going to be perfect. Admitting that will help you rock the restaurant with kids and know it’s going to be okay. Eating at restaurants with kids is unavoidable when travelling. Truth be told there’s only so many drive thru’s and ordering in I can take before I just want to sit down to a nice meal.
Tell me your tricks in the comments below. I love learning new ideas for parenting toddlers.