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The topic of this week’s Foodie Friday post is eating out with your twin babies or toddlers. I feel a bit disinguenuous writing this, since my response to “How do you eat out with your 15 month old twins?” is “I don’t”. However, that is a post for another day. Just because I’m too tired intimidated to do it, doesn’t mean you should be! I asked the moms at HDYDI and many of them both eat out with their twin kiddos and had many great tips on how to do this successfully.
Prep your table
Your kids are, well, kids. Don’t provide them with temptations they won’t be able to handle. Clear the table of salt and pepper shakers or they may go nuts shaking salt and pepper everywhere….and then nuts again when you take them away.
Make sure to remember kid sized spoons and forks, if your kids still need these to eat. Bring wipes. Lots of wipes. They are good both for entertainment pre-meal (cleaning the table is fun!) and a good clean-up post meal. Bring sippy cups as well. Do you know how much of a mess toddlers can make with cups and straws? Believe us, when we say you don’t want to find out mid-meal. It’s impressive.
Time it right
Go early. It’s less busy, and your kids will probably be less tired. Know how long you have in a restaurant. One HDYDI mom of two year olds says that they have an hour. Another mom of 14 month olds says it’s more like 45 minutes for her kids. Plan accordingly. Ask for the check early. Can you call in your order before you get there? Even better! This works especially well for pizza, if you tell them not to keep it in the warmer. That way, it’s not too hot to be eaten when it arrives at your table. Be ready to make a quick exit if necessary. Do you have a second adult with you? You can leave him/her to pay the check and box up food while you and the kiddos make a run for it.
Choose your own meal wisely
As a smart HDYDI mom pointed out, it’s important to keep your hands clean and available and get food that can be eaten quickly. A huge, messy, delicious club sandwich—not a good choice. A neat, easily eaten chopped salad? Perfect!
Don’t fight over the kids eating their veggies when you’re out. If they eat chips for dinner, so be it. Can you eat outside so that your kids can run around while they wait for food to arrive? Great! Wait until another day to teach about sitting still and waiting. That’s hard stuff to learn!
Talk up the adventure to your little ones. Get them excited about it! If they know it’s a treat, they may be better behaved. Order two kids meals so that they can have a selection of yummy foods. Or order treats like chocolate milk that they don’t get at home. Another option is to bring along special toys to keep them busy.
Snack before hand?
The HDYDI moms were torn as to whether this was the right answer or not. One mom said that she alwayspicks places that have food on the table when you get there (Bertucci’s has rolls and most Mexican places have chips and salsa). If they go to a place without immediate snacks, she brings her own, usually treats that are not usually offered at home. Another HDYDI mom says they do no food before hand, and get all the meals at the same time, so that the kids do eat something and are busy eating so that the adults can eat too. Try out a couple different methods and see what works best for your kids, at their age.
Let’s be honest. No matter how much you try to clean up after your messy lovely kiddos, you are probably not the server’s easiest or neatest customers of the night. Tip big! One HDYDI mom aims for 25% and feels that this might make up for the minor (or major) chaos that can accompany their meal out.
Choose a different type of place
And here is advice after my own heart! One HDYDI mom says that they go out to delis and bagel shops where you can order and pay at the counter. All the better for a quick escape. And, I have to say that while I have avoided dinner outs, except as an adults-only adventure, we have taken the kids out to a local breakfast place. Big, friendly, full of kids—somehow it seesm easier to do breakfast than dinner. They’re more cheerful, we have more energy and no one is trying to have a nice, romantic breakfast out. I don’t think. Is there a local place with a toddler play area? Even better! You can eat while they play.
Check out what the moms of HDYDI say about eating out, in their own words. Krissy wrote about it here. Goddess in Progress wrote a review of local lunch places, from the point of view of eating there with 11 month olds. Check that post out here. Other recommendations for kid friendly places, straight from your favorite moms here at HDYDI—Red Robin, Bertucci’sor a Mexican place like our local Border Cafe. Some of these are local places, but if you have one around, check it out!
Do you have tricks up your sleeve for eating out successfully? What do you do? Share your ideas with the rest of us!