Growing up I loved eating at restaurants, but we didn’t do it very often. When I knew that we were going out, I’d start pre-planning what I wanted to eat, and I’d count down the minutes to getting this vision into my belly. I’m a female, so getting ready was a big, long process and would help with taking my mind off watching the clock. My getting to eat out somewhere was a little bit of a big deal.
The Then and Now of Eating at Restaurants
Cut to the 4 babies I’ve had, with every minute of my life being spoken for and you get a woman who has zero motivation to cook, so I’ve suggested that we eat elsewhere pretty often. After dance/football practice, and games, it became way easier to pick up a quick bite at one of our go-to restaurants.
I hate drive-thrus, though. I’ve gone on and off diets for years, and knew that nothing good would ever get accomplished by that kind of food to choose from.
What I did learn from eating out with my rugrats, who are picky (and pretty damn moody sometimes, too) is:
You’ve gotta be smart when you pick your restaurants.
Choosing a place with a sandbox, or a playground, is best for everyone.
There’s much more to choose from now – on our fourth child – than there was 21 years ago, on our first. Having bean and cheese tacos or cheeseburgers for the little ones is a must. The go-to for us has been the Leon Springs Las Palapas.
My husband’s kind of obsessed with Mexican food, so he’s in absolute heaven with eating here whenever. There’s a good-sized sand area on the patio, too.
When I draw the line and demand having a burger, it’s the (again) Leon Springs Willie’s Grill and Icehouse. The whole family is typically happy with either: casual, and yummy.
Make sure they’ve snacked a little bit prior to heading there.
If it’s an event that’s been planned ahead of time, I try to make sure that the youngest has had a piece of fruit or something, to minimize the inevitable whining. Trust me, nobody else eating there wants to deal with this either. “Um Miss, can you ask your daughter to stop licking the picture on the menu, please?”
Make them wait for their meal along with everyone else.
This is one that took me longer to realize, because I thought I was being smart by getting our Little Pest’s plate on the table, so that she wouldn’t irritate the rest of the establishment while we were waiting.
When I begin to eat my meal though, she’s rushing me to take her to the bathroom and to leave. If her endgame is over, she’s a little more prone to start doing a little “duck duck goose” all around the seats. I’ve got a much better shot with distracting her, if we’re ALL listening to the sounds of our stomach growling together.
Don’t be so rigid about what activities are allowed.
Normally, the restaurants our family picks to visit are going to have something for the little one to do.
I’m one of those moms that avoids the use of any electronics when we’re sitting together to eat, which is why I normally wouldn’t make this suggestion…However, occasionally, you need to change things up! I wouldn’t make them all engage in conversation while for however long it takes me to whip up their food.
It’s a different story though, if (and we never will be) we’re in some dimly lit restaurant where people are likely having their date night at (to get AWAY from their kids and the sounds that come with them). Use your considerate judgement!
It would probably be the last resort, however it’s one I’m certainly willing to utilize for making it to the end of our time out together. And I’m totally cool with this!
Treat the staff like family (the ones you like).
They’re going to end up cleaning the spills, and making a kajillion runs for our refill requests.
It doesn’t matter if you’re at freaking Chuck E. Cheese’s, they probably still hate having young children seated in their section. Even though I know how precious she can be..believe it or not..they likely think she’s Satan’s spawn. Wait. Wha?? I know. I know, it’s crazy talk.
When my husband and I show our manners,and engaging in conversations with them however, I know it must be a weight off of their shoulders and they usually will go over and above trying to please Miss Thang. So, be chill.
Words of Wisdom
Maybe my words of wisdom will be of some use to y’all, in making the best of your time out together during this season of life. Hey, if I can get just a minute of peace, I’m in heaven! So, I’m willing to try almost anything.
C’mon folks! Ain’t nothing like an ice cold margarita in these parts of Texas. Because let’s be honest, that’s why we really go out! Right, moms?
**(UPDATE: I had an issue with my website for a couple of weeks, so I’m resharing this post, as it was one I lost during the maintenance I was doing.)