We’ve worked quite closely with Kathryn from Nana’s Manners recently and we’re very happy to let you know that Nana’s Manners cutlery is currently in production and will be sent out soon. Read more here.
When we read one of her latest blogposts we loved it. Eating out with children is something a lot of parents dread but we’re convinced with Kathryn’s top tips and the help from Nana’s Manners products dinner out will just be that little bit calmer.
Kathryn kindly let us repost her ‘Evening eats and a few kiddie cheats’ post for our pocketnannies readers to enjoy.
Welcoming in the weekend feels like a special occasion as we fall back into the school routine whilst enjoying the last few weeks of summer weather. Our optimism and enthusiasm over dinner out usually starts around lunchtime on a Friday. This can very quickly block out the fact that in a few hours, when schools close for the day, the aspiration of relaxing and unwinding along one of London’s many stretches of river with cold alcoholic drinks and very tasty summer menus will be just that. Reality is a tired/hot 5yr old and a teenager demanding pizza or milkshakes at the mention of eating out together!
That said we always find a comprise somewhere between happily fed children and a moments reminder of our younger, simpler years! Even if we succumb to the guilt of feeding faster food to our children just the once. In the process of setting up Nana’s Manners and meeting lots of new people, I’ve recently found myself talking a lot about family focused dining and eating out.
Collecting my thoughts together, I decided to share a brief list of tips that, as a parent, I’ve found really useful over the years. Some ideas discovered, many picked up from like-minded parents – in that they also want to be able to get to the end of their meal in relative peace (remember – always relative).
Perhaps most importantly, Never forget to measure your expectations at meal times, like we all do in so many other areas of life when small people are involved!
1) Come prepared
Would you expect you child to sit at your kitchen/dining room table for two hours at home? Consider your kid’s attention span. A word search and some colouring will only get you so far. Pack a couple of small toys (I find Playmobil is great – I don’t pack Lego since spending a lot of time on a restaurant floor once – not a great view for the other diners).
2) Take advantage of being out;
Overfamiliarity means that at home we don’t always use “please and thank you’s”. Eating out is different – it’s nice to see our kids remembering their manners when ordering at the table. It’s a great chance to practice how you should behave in public places and consider others around you when you’re actually out there. Kids love getting involved – my son enjoys the responsibility of ordering everyone’s drinks! I love listening to a 5yr old order a glass of Rosé!
3) Choose your timing;
I can’t realistically expect a drawn out, stress free meal on a Friday evening at 8pm. Why make life more difficult? 6pm works for us – you know your children’s routine and how much they’ll flip if you bend it.
4) Choose your location
Restaurant – As a general rule, if they don’t have a kids menu, they’re probably not the safest bet unless you are really familiar with the place.
Table – ‘We’ll have the corner booth please!’ Not only can we lock our little one in, but any extra noise he makes may be contained, slightly.
5) Are you sitting comfortably?
I read recently that children in 17th century Britain were often sat using stools for tables and footstools for seats. A tad anti-social as it seems, it was interesting to see that even then it was recognised that children benefit from sitting with the table at the correct height and their feet firmly on the ground.
It was wonderful to eat at Jamie Oliver’s last week and be provided a Stokke Tripp Trapp chair. Ensuring my son is sat comfortably at the table is more difficult since we’re out the high chair stage. I haven’t found many restaurants that consider a child’s height and comfort. I personally am not going to lug a booster seat to a restaurant, but I do try to pick a higher chair if there’s a variation on offer.
6) Adults – be on your best behaviour remember – you’re on a hot date!
In our situation, it’s very easy for my husband and I to end up in a work conversation at the table. This is a sure route for things to go downhill! It’s so much better when we make the effort to pitch the conversation to everyone. This was my idea behind Nana’s Manners Conversation Cards. The ‘How’s your day been?’ conversation only takes you so far (my son refuses to even answer the question). Personally my most memorable meals out are ones where we’ve had great family discussions. Eating together is not all about the food. Enjoy yourselves!
This post was first featured on Nana’s Manners blog here.