Saturday, October 15, 2011

Dining Out with Kids

I was amazed when an acquaintance once told me that they avoid going to restaurants when the kids are with them. Ooops, what does it mean? The kids are 3 and 5 years old at that time. She explained further that it is just an exercise in futility, as they won't even get to enjoy the food and the kids would only be distracting the people around. Worse, that they would only get hurt by running around or be reprimanded to silence by the proprietor and fellow diners. Thus, the only restaurants the kids know are the branches of fastfood restaurants such as McDonald's.

I mentioned that to my husband who replied 'then they dont need children.' I mean, of course eating with a small child in a restaurant would be a big challenge, but so does eating at home. I cannot follow the logic really. We always bring our kids wherever we go, and eating out are one of the special bonding times we have -- either at fast food restaurants or fine dining halls.

Especially since most of the restaurants offer a high chair, if you are big on safety. Some restaurants even offer gifts of toys or activities to keep the kids busy and not bored to tears. In In Germany, I know a lot of restaurants who have kid's corners -- where they arrange small tables and chairs, with loads of crayons and papers or even books -- sometimes even a box of assorted toys to choose from.

And one restaurant in Austria became our kids' favorite. They have an extra room that serves as a playroom -- complete with legos, building blocks, table games, doll houses, etc. -- and a carpet big enough to really let loose. The set up also includes a kiddie table for dining and even high chairs. The door of the playroom can remain closed, in case the other diners would deemed the kids to be a distraction. What's more, the children's menu (which serves also as a coloring pad) comes with a surprise gift. They really spoil the kids in there, at the end of our more than two weeks vacation, the kids are calling it 'their restaurant.'

I hear nobody complaining there. It is really a big hit with vacationers with kids. And to be frank, this is our first vacation wherein we have really dined! No need to hurry, no tempers flaring -- a real vacation! That the food is good was just luck. The thing is, as long as the kids eat and leave us in peace long enough to enjoy our food, then everybody's all happy.

And another favorite, one Greek restaurant near our home, especially during summertime, they have a playground complete with seesaws, slides and a sandbox with big boxes of toys.

Of course, you can find such offers in club resorts, with animators to drag the kids from one activity to another, even dining with them together. But that would be another story.

Important, too, we make sure that we would be in the restaurant before five pm. The kids are not yet so hungry, thus still in a good mood; and the dining places are not yet full, thus, we can choose a comfortable place for us.

Another thing, everytime we order our food, we make sure that the kids' choices would arrive a little earlier. Thus, we, parents can focus on helping them out, if needed. And they would be almost (if not already) full and satisfied when it is our turn to dine. The kids would then have a choice - to stay and play on the table or go to the kids's corner. Make sure that they know the golden rule: that playing on the table meant a silent game or drawing time. If they cannot abide, then they must go to the kids' corner, if there's any.

But what happens if you cannot find a kid-friendly restaurant? Then stuff your mama bag with pens and pencils, small card games, their favorite toys, even books. In some cases, the kids even found games between stacks of paper bottle mats/saucers in restaurants.

You know what we usually do? We always call to ask if there's kids' corner in the restaurant we wanted to visit. When on a holiday, we check out the internet or arriving at the place, the brochures or simply, we go in and have a look. When there's something for the kids', then we stay. Because as long as they get busy, then dining out is just another child's play.


anney said...

Dito rin sa Pinas medyo marami na ding restaurants na nagbibigay sila ng pagkakalibangan ng mga kids habang inaantay ang food gaya ng coloring pages, puzzles etc.

raqgold said...

oo nga, anney, nakakalibang. pero meron kaming pinupuntahan na isang resto dyan sa pinas na kapag nagamit na yung papel, may bayad na daw yung pangalawa :-D

doon po sa amin said...

ahaha! kami rin po sa pamilya ay sobrang masaya pag kakain sa labas na may kasamang maliliit na bata. pag gano'n, halos lahat ng adults, gustong sumama...

malaki ho kaming pamilya so, isang baranggay lagi ang mga lakaran, lols!

ang pi-pretty ng kids nyo... :)