You know exactly what we’re talking about. It’s 5 p.m. and the kids are hungry. A home-cooked meal isn’t on the agenda and rolling through the drive-thru nixed off the list. You want a nice meal – whipped up by someone else, with actual silverware and a nice glass of wine to boot.
But, the mere thought of taking your small children to a restaurant – especially one where the wine doesn’t come in a box – makes your blood run cold.
You could eat at home until they head off to university. But, being major foodies and, well, relatively uninterested in cooking by about 4 p.m. here at OBE, we instead recommend that you put on your combat gear, prepare properly for the mission and head out onto the front lines of fine dining (or just dining out) with tiny people in tow.
It’s fun. Really. We mean it.
We have the tips to prove it:
5. #1 tip, never to be trifled with: NEVER take a tired toddler out for a sit-down meal. You will, indeed, have to get your food to go and spend the next two hours wishing the wine came in a to-go cup as well. It is bad.
4. Always bring or ask for entertainment. Crayons, paper, small books, wee toys, all very valuable in the distraction department. Pack a “dining out” bag and throw it in the back of the car. Worth it.
3. Order the kids food with the drinks. We go in to restaurants with one thing in mind – get the kids eating ASAP. The longer the wait, the more likely they are to flip a nice evening on its head.
2. Insist on manners, but understand that kids need to be in motion. There comes a point where no matter what you want, the kids need to get up and walk. Be flexible while still insisting they not run screaming like banshees through the restaurant.
1. Practice. Practice. Practice. The more kids eat out, the better they get at it. It may be a gong show the first few times until everyone gets used to the social structure of public dining. Keep plugging away. It gets better. Before you know it they are ordering sushi and sake waiting for you to stop screwing around with the menu