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Eating Out With Kids

Potty-Breaks, Spills, Crawling Under Other Diners' Tables - How Would You Handle These Situations?

kids and family eating out

I remember when I was young just being horrid whenever my parents ever tried to take me and my other siblings out to eat. However, when I finally had a child of my own, I realized that the way she acted at restaurants was a probably karma punishing me for fashioning spit ball cannons out of straws and the paper they come wrapped in to use on my brothers. I tell you, having your own kids is the only way you will ever truly appreciate how hard your parents had to work.

Anyway, after a few failed attempts at getting my usually quite well mannered daughter to do anything remotely civilized while at a restaurant, I realized that it was going to take more than coaxing and threats. I tried to remember what my mom had done to keep us in line, but as I recall, she’d either just smile helplessly at the other diners or else she just wouldn’t take us out. Neither of these were good options for me, because for one, I can’t stand other people’s judgmental looks, and two, I really enjoy eating at nice restaurants every so often. So what was I to do?

I asked some of my other parent friends what they did in situations like this, and here are their awesome tips that have made my life so much easier and probably made the lives of all the other people in the restaurants that I visit much easier, as well.

Give them the "pep talk"

This is the "talk" you give them before you even leave home. Tell them you are going to a restaurant and tell them how you expect them to behave. This way if they misbehave, you can remind them of what you told them before without having to get into a lengthy explanation at the restaurant.

Choose your time carefully Going a little earlier than the normal meal time is actually a good idea, as it means that there will be less people at the restaurant, and also your child will be better behaved if she isn’t starving waiting for food and if you don’t stay too long to where it’s already close to her bed time. Hunger and sleepiness are two of the major precursors to crankiness, so if you can avoid these to things, you’ll have a much happier dining experience.

Teach manners at home

Some parents (myself not excluded) allow their children to eat like little piggies at home, but when they take them to a nice restaurant, they expect that they will automatically start eating like little ladies and gentlemen. Children don’t do this on their own, they need to be taught, and the home is the best place to do this. Also, good manners and saying "please" and "thank you" will go a long way to help the others in the restaurant keep their “If these were MY children …" comments to themselves.

dining out with your family saving on eating out

Be prepared for a mess

Bring LOTS of wet wipes. Whether your drink spills, your daughter throws her spaghetti, or your baby chokes and ends up vomiting all over you, you can make things much easier on yourself and on the waiters and waitresses if you bring your own wipes. And I mean, like… in BULK! These are also super helpful for bathroom trips (of course).


Kids aren’t perfect. They’re going to make messes and misbehave from time to time. The best we can do is minimize this. Keeping a cool, collected attitude while you are dining out will rub off on your kids and keeping an easy going attitude about meal times can even help prevent children from developing eating disorders later on in life (visit the Viamedic blog for more information on this)

These are a few of the things that can help make eating out with kids much more enjoyable. Another good tip – tip well! This will ensure that you get good service next time you visit your favorite restaurant, rather than having the serving staff roll their eyes every time they see you.

Stacey Cavalari is a creative writer who has published hundreds of articles online and in print, covering everything from sexual health to parenting to beauty, fashion, entertainment and more., a safe online medical facilitator provides comprehensive research, such as the Erectile Dysfunction Resource Center.

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