Thursday, August 21, 2014

eating out with a munchkin

We don't eat out very often, I make most of our meals and we enjoy our meals at home. While it's nice to go out, we've just never been the type of people to go out to eat very often at all. Occasionally we'll go out to celebrate something exciting, for a birthday, when Landon's parents come to visit, or when we travel. After having a baby and moving to Illinois we go out even less [mostly because it's cheaper to eat at home and we need to save all we can]. But, when we do go out I know what helps make our meal out more enjoyable for everyone. 

- pack food for the munchkin, unless of course your little one eats 'real' food and you are able to order something off of the menu for them. In our case, Emerson really only eats fruit, cheese, and crackers, so I just pack a little lunch bag for him with food I know he likes to eat. 

- bring special yummy treats. I started bringing yummy treats out with us to buy us time. Emerson is a pretty good baby toddler but sometimes when he's done eating, he's done eating and he wants out of his seat. And sometimes the restaurant will take longer with an order for some reason, the treats help Emerson sit still a little bit longer and allow us to scarf down our food. Our treats are usually things like yogurt melts, Mum Mums, gram cracker cookies, or animal crackers. 

- bring a bib, spoon/fork, sippy cup, and placemat. The bib and spoon are fairly obvious -to help keep a tidy toddler. One thing I especially like having is a placemat for Emerson. I don't want to tote along a little plate for him and I don't want him eating right off of the table, thus the placemat. We love them. I love them for the cleanliness and disposability [if that's a word] factor and Emerson loves them for the fun picture factor, he especially likes the ones with Mickey. Win win. 

- have a few toys/books with you ... just in case your munchkin finishes eating before you, it's always good to have something for them to do/look at. One time we went out to eat and it took forever for our order to get to us. Typically we can order our food and be nearly done eating it by the time Emerson is finished -not this time. He was very finished eating lunch before our meal came out -and he wasn't being a speedy eater that day, the food just took that long. In the end he sat on the floor and unpacked and repacked his diaper bag a thousand times, read a few books, and played with a few toys packed away -and thankfully we were sitting in a corner so he was able to do that. and thankfully we got a discount on our meal for the long wait. But still, I'd rather pay full price for my food than have to entertain a toddler and make him stay in one little spot of the restaurant while trying to eat my food.

- Go out early [if it's dinner time]. If we're in a busy place [like at the beach in the middle of the summer] or it's a busy time of year, we call to make a reservation. It helps so much -you don't have to wait and if there is a crowd you can avoid it. 

- Include the toddler in your number of people. For example, when you go in the restaurant [or call in advance] and the hostess asks you how many people, say the number of people including your little one. Don't just say, four and a toddler if there are four adults and a toddler. Say five. The toddler is a person too and takes up just as much space at the table as a grown up does [sometimes more]. We learned this one the hard way. We made the mistake of saying sixteen and a toddler for a reservation one time. We were given a table with sixteen places and then the high chair was put off to the side. Not gonna work. The next time we just included Emerson in the people count and didn't say we had a toddler. ...though when we were out once after that and I said we have five, they looked at me as if I were crazy and said, "You mean four and a toddler?" "No. Five. And we'll need a high chair." Gotta get that right, ya know? 

- Order quickly. When the waiter comes around and asks for your drink order, try and have your food order ready then too. If not then, be ready by the time he comes back with your drinks. The quicker you get your order in, the quicker you can eat and leave, and the more everyone will enjoy their meal. This is not a long romantical dinner -you're eating out with a toddler. Even me, an incredibly indecisive person, has learned to choice very quickly! 

- Wait to give dinner to the munchkin. We like to try and wait until after we have placed our order and feel like our food will be coming out within ten minutes or so. Emerson does take his time eating so we can usually start him a little bit before us and he'll finish the same time we are. It's all in the timing. You have an idea of how long it takes your little one to eat, so just keep that in mind. 

Anyhow, those are my little tips for eating out with your little toddler. What are some things that you do to help you all have a enjoyable time out? 

What is your secret trick to eating out with your little one?  Check out the other mama's blogs for even more tips!  And be sure to link up with us below if you also have a post on this.  

July 10:  Keeping your marriage alive with a toddler
July 17:  Favorite summer toddler activities
July 24:  Helping Your Toddler to Communicate (Words, emotions, etc.)
July 31:  Dealing with Separation Anxiety
Aug 7:    Car Trip Necessities
Aug 14:  Deciding when the time is right for baby #2 (and/or how to handle these questions)
Aug 21:  Tricks for eating out with your toddler
Aug 28:  Feeling confident as a mom (How to feel this way, Your struggle with, etc.)


Meghan said...

One of my biggest pet peeves when they try to squeeze the high chair in and don't count the toddler as a person. I too have stopped asking for a high chair ahead of time and including him in the count and I get confused looks all the time! We went to a dog friendly restaurant and they gave a couple with a dog a bigger table than they gave us (a family of three)!!!

Lauren said...

great post! we eat out quite a bit with just us and also with family...but there was a period of time where it was just NOT fun. And for any "large party" meals now we try and just have dinner at someone's's so much easier when the kiddos can just be down playing until dinner is ready!

Danielle said...

All great advice. When we're done eating my husband or I take our daughter outside to walk around while the other person stays behind and takes care of the bill.

Courtney B said...

A placemat! Genius idea!! And I keep forgetting the bib lately, ugh! She's definitely not out of that stage and still needs one, yet I keep thinking she IS out of that stage. I mean, good grief! *I* still need a bib, ha ha!
LOVE your tips!