Waiting for the food is the most stressful part. Then once the food arrives it feels like I can't dish it out fast enough, etc.
The good thing is, the few times we have gone out to eat with the kids, I get at least one compliment on how well behaved our kids are.
Here are my tips:
- Before we enter the restaurant, I tell the kids what my expectations are.
- I take advantage of anything the restaurant has to offer to entertain the kids - coloring, crayons, etc.
- The last time we went to a restaurant it had no crayons, etc. It was breakfast time so they had packets of jelly out on the table. Each boy took a turn counting all of the orange jellies, or the purple ones, etc. Then we lined up the jelly packets and made a jelly train. We made a jelly "bed", tucked in the spoon with a napkin and sang Twinkle Twinkle.
- Look at the decor and make conversation about it. "Do we have a rolling pin at home?" "How many flowers are in this vase?" And so forth.
- Save the paper from the straws. I always end up doing random things that crack the boys up like I weaved a wrapper through a fork's tines and pretended it was a giant spagetti noodle trying to attack Brant's mouth.
- Lately my boys pretend it's someone's birthday or that they are Santa Claus. They take a small toy and cover it with a napkin. They give it to me and I "unwrap" it and act all excited. We did this in the restaurant with one of their napkins (we wrapped up a jelly packet, a creamer, whatever we could find) and it bought us some time.
- Praise when they are eating well, using manners, etc.