An outing to a restaurant, what a great way to relax! And yet… Having to deal with rambunctious children in a public place can, on the contrary, be a great source of stress!
It all starts at home
Before the age of two, it is impossible to have control over your child's behavior in a public place: every day therefore brings its share of surprises, and no one is safe of a small crisis, on occasion. Nevertheless, it is excellent to accustom your young child to the hustle and bustle of the restaurant, to the noise, to the new faces.
Afterwards, it's a question of education and preparation. The best thing is still to teach the child the golden rules of the table as quickly as possible. If the child succeeds in assimilating these precepts well at home, the outing to the restaurant should go well. The child must therefore learn to sit calmly, wait to be served, be polite… A visit to the restaurant also allows us to see how he behaves in public, and if he adapts well to a new environment. All these skills will soon be essential for the child who will join the school benches!
Choose the right onerestaurant
In an article published on the Châtelaine blog last fall, host and actress Bianca Gervais lamented the fact that many establishments are not “baby friendly”. Are we indeed condemned to eat in the restaurants of the big chains as soon as we become mothers? No. But you have to expect to receive, from time to time, a few murderous looks from the staff, or even from other customers. However, some children behave remarkably well in the restaurant!
Nevertheless, depending on your child's age and temperament, try to choose a restaurant that he will like: it will make your job a lot easier! Indeed, when they are younger, children do not have the ability to wait very long before being served. It is therefore best to avoid restaurants that offer several services. In short, choose a restaurant that will appeal to everyone, and where you will not be uncomfortable if your child has a few behavioral differences.
Choose your moment
We sometimes want to go to a restaurant when we are tired, thus avoiding having to make supper, for example. However, tired children will be more rambunctious and more difficult to "control", especially if they are young. So, we try to go there earlier: we start with breakfasts, brunches, dinners and, finally, dinners. If possible, try to avoid peak times.
How can we make sure that the children listen to us, once at the restaurant? The best thing is to determine our expectations before arriving. Explain to the children how you want them to behave once they are at the table. Repeat the instructions: we remain seated, we eat, we are polite, we do not shout… Yes: We organize a small family meeting. Remind them that they will have to wait before eating: it's part of the "game" at the restaurant!
When they are small, try to choose a table near the toilets, since you will probably have to make several visits there. And at the table, also choose the places: the children near the wall, while you sit on the side of the aisle. In a bench, the child in the background. Some children tend to tug or bicker if they are side by side, so it is best to place them near an adult.
Speeding up the process
We don't take too long to order, and we ask for the bill once the coffees and desserts have been served. Under the age of 10, it is difficult for children to stay in place for very long: 45 minutes to 60 minutes is already good.
Take a break
Don't hesitate to take a break with your child, between the main meal and dessert, for example. If the weather and the season allow it, go outside for 5 minutes. Some restaurants even offer play areas. The simple act of getting upcan help the child to wait better afterwards.
Prepare a survival kit
Toys, notebooks, pencil: a survival kit is essential! Vary the content: modeling clay, puzzles, books, memory game… You can also carry a few snacks (crackers, celery) to keep the little ones waiting for the meal. Of course, bring a bib and a washcloth for children under 3 years old.
And electronic games? Yes, when you're at your wit's end, Mom's iPad or phone can save the day. No: no one likes giving their phone to their child, and you immediately feel like you are being judged by all the other customers. But they will judge you much more harshly if your little storms spoil their supper! That being said, we try to continue the conversation with the child, even if he is playing. Indeed, dining should always remain a social experience.
No survival kit with you?
You have to improvise! A napkin turns into a “peekaboo” game, we point at objects to learn the colors, we draw on the placemat, we play memory games with the objects on the table… We can also take the opportunity to tell each other stories. The important thing is to include the child in the discussions.
Nothing helps? Your children do not listen, shout, run: always be ready to leave the restaurant. Yes it'sexceedingly regrettable. But sometimes it is necessary. And your children will learn a lot from this lesson! Wait, before returning to the restaurant: they must be able to prove to you that they will know how to behave properly.
Baby has a seizure: we take it, and we retire outside, if the temperature allows it, or to the bathroom, while the shower passes. Nothing helps: we ask for take-out food. Next time will be better!