Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Eating out with small children

A few years before having children I once had a twitter conversation on why I thought children should eat out in child friendly places, those geared up to cater to families, leaving 'proper' restaurants for grown ups. I didn't like the noise, or mess, I was trying to enjoy my meal, if I wanted child chaos I'd be in my nearest McDonald's.

Now I have my own little people, has my opinion changed?

No.

Although I'm more tolerant of children now, and I understand that noisy, wailing children aren't misbehaving because they're brats, with rubbish parents - it's because they're hungry/tired/bored... But if I go to eat out on an evening then I still prefer there to be no under 5s me. So I can enjoy my meal in peace, undisturbed.

I've mellowed slightly on lunchtimes and early evening - but only really in places that cater to children. 

I often feel that eating out with our kids anywhere can be a waste of money - they don't eat the food, I don't get to eat mine, it's completely stressful trying to keep them entertained before the food comes, a drink is ALWAYS knocked over the table. I don't find it enjoyable at all!  On the rare occasion we've been to somewhere I'd class as not child friendly I've felt very out of place, and quite stressed, worrying we're disrupting other diners.

I understand the argument that children need to learn to behave in different social settings, and learn 'the rules' of eating out, but I don't think they need to do it somewhere that isn't geared up for them. I don't think it's fair to the other diners to inflict my noisy, grumpy, impatient children on them.

I'd like Daisy and Phoebe to eat out with us, but I don't feel like we can go anywhere 'nice' that the pre-child me would have been irritated by children being there, ruining my meal.

So what's the answer, stick to Pizza Hut until they're 7, or rarely eat out? 

In my perfect world, restaurants would have family nights, from 4-8pm, a couple of times each month, where we can go knowing there will only be other families, where people will be tolerant if one of my children has a meltdown when their food hasn't arrived quick enough - or if they have a little wander about. Where it isn't the end of the world if most of it ends up on the floor - and nobody looks at me like I'm a crazy person for picking all the food up myself, on my hands and knees. (I really wish I had a mini dustpan and brush for my handbag).

Oh, and I would like the children's food to arrive lukewarm, so they can eat it straight away, and my food isn't left to go cold while I break apart pieces of theirs, frantically blowing on it, to cool it to a reasonable temperature. I've never understood why places send children's food out with it being as hot as the sun?!

I'd like there to be enough high chairs, I'd like there to be baby changing, and I'd like mini portions of the adult menu, not chicken nuggets!

But it's just a dream, and I'll be eating in Pizza Hut for the next ten years....

I must add that I do have a friend who has eaten out with her little one, and has never felt the need to go a child friendly chain, has never used a children's menu, and her son eats anything and behaves beautifully. So maybe that's the answer? To perseve, never giving in to going to the child friendly chains? To go often enough they learn the 'rules' of eating out from a very early age? 

What do you think?

Would you take an under 5 out to dinner to a 'proper' restaurant?