One of my favorite activities with my family is enjoying a meal out. Sitting together on a restaurant patio, having conversation and enjoying good food…dreamy. The reality is, many parents struggle with taking their children out to eat. They worry they will make a scene, that their child will misbehave, or they will end up putting a screen in front of their child to distract them. Today I’d like to share an excerpt from my upcoming book about food and family. (Stay tuned for a release date).
Here are a few of my best tips to help you prepare for a meal out with your young children:
- Practice: Having sit-down dinners at home is a preparation for eating at a restaurant. Each time you sit down as a family for a meal at home, you are practicing for your next meal out as a family.
- Bring a set of dishes: It may be helpful to bring your child-size plate, glass, and flatware that your child uses at home. Restaurants do not often have these items available, making it difficult for your child to fully participate in the meal.
- Invite your child to be a part of the process: Take the opportunity to introduce pictures on the menu or new words. Discuss options with your child and then give him two to choose from. Even pre-verbal children can suggest preferences with facial expressions and hand gestures.
- Choose your seating wisely: Make sure to be seated in a way that your child can see people or look outside., Check that he won’t get overwhelmed and that he is not facing a screen.
- Ask for your meals to be served together: Many restaurants assume that children should be served first. The difficulty with this is, when a child finishes eating just as the parents’ meals arrive, the child is ready to move onto the next activity and the parent hasn’t eaten. This often results in one parent taking the child outside while the other eats alone. This is no fun. A purpose of a family meal out is to eat together, therefore, everyone should be served at the same time.
In order to maximize the possibility of an enjoyable family meal out, keep in mind the time of day—is your child usually getting ready for sleep at this time? Consider his activity of the day—has it been a full day of activity (this might just be too much to ask)? What about his level of hunger? Is your child hungry enough for food to keep his attention, or is he over-hungry and asking him to wait is not going to work? All of these will factor into his ability to sit and enjoy a meal while out.
Over lunch this week, a friend asked, “How is work going?” I responded, “It’s busy. It’s Potty Learning season.” We both laughed at the term, and she asked why would there be a season for such a thing. The truth is, summer is such a perfect time to start the potty learning process. First, it is a time of year you can let your child go bare-bottomed. This often makes the process move more quickly, as a child without pants and underwear (or diaper) can more easily feel a trickle down his leg, and is less hindered when he actually makes it to the potty. Secondly, many parents are trying to get a jump start before school is in session in the fall. Many schools now have the requirement that children be potty trained, or well on their way. So, I formally am declaring summer: Potty Learning Season 😉 (although I strongly believe potty learning should start any time of year that your find yourself ready)
If you need support figuring out when and how to start your Potty Learning routine, contact us at Studio June. We offer Potty Learning Camp, Private Potty Learning Support in your home, and Potty Learning Phone Consultations. You can also get started by ordering our Potty Learning Guide; Toilet Awareness.
In the children’s section of our local bookstore, I found a fun little book; Shh! We Have A Plan by Chris Haughton (Candlewick Press). This is such a little gem and I laughed out loud as I read it for the first time. There are 5 elements that drew me to this book:
- Simple and cleaver illustrations. These illustration are clear yet creative. At first glance, it is easy to see the story they tell, but with a second look there are little details that hold a child’s interest; like the tiny little tulips, a details in the stocking caps and shadows of the trees.
- Based on reality. This story is about a small group of people working together toward a common goal (except for one ;))
- Repetition in words. Children like rhythmic language and are drawn to the cadence as we read. Keep your little one connected to this story through the beat of the repeated words.
- Onomatopoeia. This is a word that makes the sound it represents. Children enjoy all the different sounds that are a part of their language and this is no exception.
- Relatable story. Children feel a natural connection to nature and other creatures. This story tells the story of the smallest person in the group having the closest connection to another living creature.
- A fun twist at the end. So fun!
Who knew you could get all this from a simple board book with a total of 31 different words!
In this delightful little book, we experience the fun of repetition, the thrill of the chase, and the relief of a generous heart. Check out My other early reading recommendations.
Check out the new Infant-Parent resource sets in the shop! If you’re running an Infant-Parent class (or even a Parent-Infant class ;-)) these are great reproducibles for your files. They are heavyweight card stock masters that you can use for years! Don’t be selfish; share this post!