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Dining Out With Your Kids

Make it an Enjoyable Experience For The Entire Family

Dining out with the entire family should be a relaxed and stress-free experience for both the children and the adults. Here are a few tips you can follow to make dining out as a family as stress free and as fun as possible.

Plan ahead:  

Being organized is key for starting out.  Making preparations ahead can make all the difference to a family when going out.  Consider the following:

  • Choose a restaurant that is family friendly where servers and management are welcoming to kids and families.  Don't force your kids into situations that are not welcoming to them. 
  • If you need a high chair or a booster seat, make sure the restaurant has what you'll need. 
  • Do your research and make sure the restaurant has kid-friendly foods as well.  Do they have a kid's menu or do they have the foods your kids will need if they have special dietary needs?  Don't assume anything.
  • You’ll feel a lot more comfortable dining with your children if the restaurant is somewhat informal and caters to families.  However, restaurants with fine dining can also accommodate families with children too and it's good for your kids to learn early how to enjoy an upscale restaurant, especially if that is what you prefer.
  • Like anywhere else you take your kids, it's important that they are trained and have their best behavior in place when going out.  Train your kids that it is not appropriate to run around the restaurant or leave the table unless it's necessary.
  • Consider the best time of day to take your kids out.  Is breakfast better than lunch since it may interfere with their nap time if they are younger?   Late dinners may not be good for smaller kids if being out is disruptive to their sleep schedule.  The timing needs to always be right.
  • Whenever possible, make a prior booking with the restaurant so that you do not have to wait unnecessarily.  Try to book at least a half an hour before your regular meal-time to ensure that there is time to order and prepare the food before the kids get restless.
  • Don’t necessarily wait until everyone is ready to order to have food brought to the kids.  Order the kids' meals first to satisfy them and keep them occupied so when your food arrives you can enjoy your meal as well.  Take a look at the menu before arrival if you're visiting a new restaurant to reduce the amount of time before the meals are served.

Be prepared: 

For small children bring along baby wipes for hands and mishaps.  These also work well for wiping down surfaces like high chair trays and table tops.  Bring smaller utensils that are easier for younger children to handle if needed.  Drink cups and bottles need to come with you if you're taking younger children out for a meal. It may seem odd but bring a few snacks just in case there is a problem with food being delivered on time.  This works great and can prevent fussiness and restlessness.

Keep the little ones busy:

Depending on how young your children are and how many you have in your party, you may look more like you're going on an overnight stay rather than visiting a restaurant, but it pays to have everything you need.  Bring along a small but variety of items for quiet activities like small reading books, coloring books, paper, pencils and small figurines.

Encourage social skills development: 

Eating out provides a wonderful opportunity for children to observe and use a range of good manners and social skills. Support your children with taking developmentally appropriate levels of responsibility for what to eat and drink, for ordering their meal and for making suitable requests from waitstaff.

We're fortunate to have many quality restaurants in the Charlotte market that take good care of families; however, we recommend two that happen to be our marketing partners with us.  Zinicola is more formal and is great for children who have been trained to dine out in a more sophisticated atmosphere.  Then, down Hwy 521 just across the state line, is That's Amore.  Both are Italian and have great food choices and atmospheres for kids.