Advice on Taking Your Little Ones to Restaurants

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.
My Advice

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.)

Hey Mom, Remember

Lately its turned into that hot, disgusting kind of Texas summer, when it’s nearly impossible to remember the joy in taking my children to do anything outdoors – whether it’s in the backyard for any great length of time or just taking the dogs on a decent length walk to get a breather from being inside all day. By late afternoon, we’re going crazy with boredom, which causes me to be that cranky mom. When dad gets home, in his efforts to give me a break, he offers (or I nominate) to take the youngest on a walk, or takes them all up to the playground/basketball court across the highway. 

Outside Activities

They haven’t been able to do a lot of that, in regards to my son getting to go play basketball, because it seems as if the surrounding areas where he usually plays, all have some kind of issue with the hoop, or the court itself. My daughter’s thrilled to be out of the house and to do anything for whatever length of time by this point in the day, which is usually close to the sun starting to go down, so that gives them a tad more opportunity to enjoy themself without ending up panting from the humidity.

Now, of course, this just happens to be the time when my sister-in-law and my nephew are staying with us, until we close on their home in the next week or so – my brother’s in the military, and out of the country for a short-while longer. So, with this being the first that we’ve all lived in the same city in adulthood, I can imagine the first impression that they’re getting, particularly of their niece, being the youngest.

She has some major meltdowns occasionally, if I’m being honest. I get pretty embarrassed though, as she has one of her bossy moments, that may be pretty standard for our crew to deal with but to others can be fairly appalling.

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Hopefully they’re not going to judge me, but I don’t know if that’s true when I can hear them practically counting the minutes to make it out of our driveway. Ha. Pretty sure most people would be doing that. 

On the weekends, we’ve fought the weather in our attempt to go to this or that event around town (which is outside, obvi), and we’ll stay for an hour or two, until we feel like we’re going to pass out. A 5-year-old in the midst of the steam room we call our city, with hundreds of others present, will inevitably be the first to lose it!

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THAT’S MY GIRL, HURLING herself at our legs. But you know what, I feel her tantrum, I respect it even.

Though it ends up making me have one of those “guilty mother” moments, for even thinking it was a good idea to take them out there. We don’t want to go to McDonald’s, since we practically live there during the week.

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The alternative seems to be dressing in the most weather appropriate attire, and then hoping for the best. We’re usually pretty excited to get out.

The kids are happy for us to all be together and do something, plus, if we’d done any of the regular, boring activities done inside, which are typically the defaults, she’d have still melted down at some point anyway. Then, it would’ve been the sign needed for us to wrap things up – no biggie, right? However, in these moments – of our hitting 100-degrees easy in the summer, after grasping at straws trying to make the weekend enjoyable for us all, that’s when it causes my ego to feel a bit bruised. Then the self-criticism kicks in, while I’m looking around at all the others, to observe if they’re having any success, while questioning my own ability to ever give my kids some memories to remember when we’re all relaxed and smiling. 

Here We Are

So, here we are: Twenty-eight days into the summer, juggling being a mother and a Realtor; a trillion days into ornery, bored babies; a kajillion days into being the expert multi-tasker that I am. Like always, my list of things to do each day starts by getting the little one out and about, in the cooler part of the day. After that, it’s not unusual for my daughter to bring up how she’s missing her friends from school, or her teacher (one of the subjects that breaks my heart to talk about), then she starts anticipating the new year to begin in August, the same month of her birthday…My hope is that she’ll have another sweet person to spend her school days with. Let me correct myself – my plea is, her first grade teacher will be yet another gentle soul, because every single prayer got answered with the teacher we received in her Kindergarten year. 

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Here we are, in the dead of summer, stuck inside and my son would love for the school year to quite frankly never return (all of a sudden, those dreaded days are here for HIM), and my little girl just wants to jump back into the routine. But for me, my spirit’s kinda numb, and I’m not 100% sure WHY.

There’s not really anything that’s CAUSING it. But I can assure you, there’s gotta be a cause. 

Quit That!

When my thoughts try interjecting with my heart to cease feeling so much, my question is “why not just let everything that will be, be?” Are my concerns about being able to provide a happy life for the kids really something to get myself worked up over? My negativity about my being this kind of person – an emotional, silly woman – now takes over. How come I just CAN’T seem get it together?? is what runs through my mind.

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Obviously, there’s way more to it than whether I’m a good mother. If someone’s not coping very well, with whatever they’ve got going on at the time; when they’re emotional because life’s just going by at lightening speed, the tiniest thing will cause them to be pushed right to the edge. 

Right then, the lightbulb went off: while I was encouraging myself to go to McDonald’s for one of them new Rollo McFlurry’s I’d seen, so I could inhale it, while figuring out when my buyers would be able to close on their new home, and what new marketing I could put out for my sellers…Wham!, a verse from the Bible came to me (most definitely God knocking some sense into me), echoing ‘But you who follows the true way have come to the light. Then the light will show that whatever you’ve done was done through God’ (John 3:21). Well that did it, yep..easy peasy.

I felt the tears welling up in my eyes, however my heart, all of a sudden, felt very full. Partly because of the Rollo McFlurry.

But more so about remembering who it is that I am – while curling up on the couch, eating the ice cream for whatever quiet time I was being given; overlooking the messy floor, the piles of clothes needing to be put away, I was being provided what it was that I yearned for the most, a mental shutdown. By this, it halted that process of giving myself another guilt-trip. 

To Summarize

Ladies, this is the deal: Sometimes everyone is going to treat us like caca, our children are going to piss and moan about every little thing and people will judge us for this when we’re out in public, there’s no one who we can think of to listen to our own bitching and moaning, and we become fairly certain we’re the biggest reject to ever walk the earth. Sometimes we’re going to set some pretty unrealistic goals that we’ll actually try to accomplish..rearrange the entire house, be a better wife, get fit by day 30 (remember, it’s already day 28) of summer.

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Sometimes we’re not going to want to get out of bed, we’ll be a bitch, lose our shit, cry, isolate and be depressed – and yes, it’ll all be done together, in one day, some of the time. Sometimes, we’ll be pushed really close to the edge, and not be able to quite put our finger on why. 

Remember, though, God’s got our back. 

How hard it is to remember this little nugget of truth sometimes, though. However, our ice cream, the get fit in less than a week fantasy, that extra-large margarita, massage, texting someone who loves us and is willing to listen, curling up for a soap opera marathon, WHATEVER it is that brings us peace – it’s what’s going to change our course. It’s dire for us to remember and take care of ourselves once in awhile, whether it’s just for 10 minutes, or for two glorious hours. We must pay attention to the verses that jump into our heads, that helps us to remember to breathe, to be at peace. 

Ain’t Life Grand?

Then, when we have those times where we’re at our best, and we can’t imagine living a better life than the one we’ve been’s dire that we then be that source of peace for someone else. By providing a smile towards someone who appears to be stressed out, or providing some words of wisdom to that mother we see, who’s at her wit’s end – I mean, what better way to show another person the light. 

Remember, we’ve been shown the way. We must also remember to show it to those who are still in the dark. Just remember to also get an extra McFlurry.

But you who follows the true way have come to the light. Then the light will show that whatever you’ve done was done through God. John 3:21

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