I have to mention that I am a little bit weary of fast food and I told my kids a couple of years ago that fast food is very unhealthy, not to mention dangerous. This has come back to bite me more than a few times as my children will not take even a nibble of any instant food and there is no such thing as grabbing take-outs in our house. So we frequent real restaurants that serve real food to real people. Well frequent might be too strong a word here – because it does not happen that frequently and is definitely a special event!
This post is for those of you who are nervous to take the step into what looks like an adult eatery, think people eatery and you are half-way there! Eating out is one of those things a child can only learn by experience any pretense at great restaurant behavior at home is just that: pretense…
So here we go: I have se7en pet hates about eating out and se7en expectations…
Se7en pet hates:
- I have a personal loathing for chain-restaurants geared for children – you know, where you sit at plastic covered tables, music blares and you are expected to want to eat artificial nuggets. Not to mention bottomless soda’s – like No-Thank-You… a couple of them are going home to sleep in my bed, if you don’t mind!!! Firstly they won’t sleep on the caffeine high and secondly if they do, there could well be a flood – now that could really spoil a night out.
- I loath clutter. Many restaurants provide all sorts of entertainment for kids like crayons and little toys and so on – I hate this – it is just clutter at the table – the point of going out for a meal is to eat and spend time together. And no I do not want a house full of little plastic toys that I would never choose to buy, but now are too special to part with. And if you were at home your child probably wouldn’t draw pictures while eating so why in the world would you let them do it when they are out at a restaurant?
- I hate adults that look pained when kids arrive at an adjoining table and then they behave worse than toddlers themselves… somehow kids have to behave perfectly in an adult setting but it is okay for an adult to fuss and carry on – euch!
- Why in the world do some restaurants assume kids can’t behave without entertainment – have you ever tried to eat while leaping around on a jumping castle… how many items on the kids menu have met their demise on said castle – oh hideous thought!!! And I can’t even venture into the world of a darkened room off to the side with computer or video games – just no.
- Tables with not enough room – no a table that seats four adults will not be suitable to seat se7en kids, they have the same plate and glass and cutlery to cope with as the adults – oh hang on!!! Kids are people too…
- Why do restaurants offer kids menus with no real food on them. Why not just serve smaller adult servings… No I am not taking my kids out for dinner so that they can eat a hot-dog… kids like to try new things and if you don’t teach them the fun of experimenting with food they are unlikely to take the step. The worst that will happen is they will eat from the bread basket and you will get an exotic serving of something to take home.
- My absolute worst nightmare – did I say WORST – is balloons, how is any child supposed to eat a meal with a balloon tied to their wrist – who invented this stupid idea, someone’s balloon always pops on the way home – not to mention the squabbles the morning after when the gas in the balloon has gone down unevenly and someone’s balloon is higher than someone else’s… In the past I would pop all balloons while the little creatures were sleeping, but now if I see a restaurant has balloons I just don’t eat there.
- I want peace and a little bit more finesse than the surroundings we eat in at home. You know, a table cloth, cloth napkins – raise the game and kids will rise to the occasion.
- I find if we engage our kids and keep them in the conversation, then they stay tuned in and focused on the job at hand, however if I get distracted in conversation with another adult and behave as if they are not there – guess what, it quickly degenerates and they behave as if I am not there. Banish the mobile phone – you could seriously have anarchy on your hands if you lose contact with the little people in the name of a quick chat.
- I love waiters that talk to kids like they are people, not through a parent. If they ask the kids what they would like… and then get them what they ask for. As apposed to what they think they would like – that is just wonderful. A little respect goes a really long way, and your tip goes up!
- I love restaurants that serve good, real food to kids. If we go out for breakfast I do not want to pay for toast with marmite. French Toast with bacon and banana; anything with berries – Yes, real food. Salads with interesting things to pick and taste from the table – Yes, real food.
- I love restaurants that provide water for the table and don’t assume that your kids are from another planet because they don’t want soda. Or restaurants that have real desserts like creme brulee (aaahhh) or actual fresh gelato as opposed to mass produced ice-cream sprinkled with whatever sugary stuff that comes to hand.
- I love restaurants where the restrooms are spotless and I don’t have to think twice or three times about letting my kids go there… actually I would rather they never used public restrooms – but should they absolutely have to use them, then please, please may it be clean.
- And the absolute best thing about eating out with se7en is not that I don’t have to clear the table – I can throw dishes into a dishwasher with the best of them… It is that I don’t have to sweep under the table again. Years ago, in my previous life before kids, a friend told me her boys swept the kitchen floor everyday – I audibly gasped, we had no kids and we swept and mopped the floor once a week and the job was done – and I remember thinking why in the world would anyone ever, ever need to sweep the floor daily. WAHAHHAHHAHA – I am so laughing out loud as I sweep under the table, before and after every single meal – even though I make my kids eat outside at every oppertunity – you know fresh air is good for those little mites!!!
That’s it eating out with se7en is fun – Just do it!