Easier Outings with your Toddler

easier outings with your toddler

Toddler at a restaurant

Ever wonder if you could go out as much as you did before kids? In this tough economy you have probably already cut down on spending, which includes both outings and babysitters. With careful planning, however, you can still have a pleasant night out and if it’s not too late, bring your tots. Here are a few tips for easier dinner outings with your toddler.

Go Earlier

Arriving before the usual crowds will make it easier to find a table where you like and leave before it gets busy (and overwhelming for most kids). With fewer visitors, your waiter will have the time to offer you more attention and the kitchen will be able to whip up the food faster. Plus, your early riser probably enjoys earlier meals. Expect some savings too, since many restaurants offer special meal deals before 6 pm.

Bring Entertainment

As a Mom I am appalled when there is no changing table in the bathroom or no kids’ offerings on the menu. I forget that not every restaurant is attuned to your needs. If kids’ activities are available (coloring books, crayons, playdough), definitely grab them, but be prepared and bring your own in case they don’t. Some options include puzzles, printable bingo cards for kids, small books, playdough, paper and crayons. Check out these shopping picks:

Have a Snack

Even if you go to dinner early enough, it may take some time before your meal is ready and someone may lose his patience. So make sure he gets a snack before you leave or as soon as you get there. This will buy you some time before dinner arrives. It should be something small (to make sure your toddler eats dinner) and nutritious. A good snack example is a small yogurt (such as gogurt), a piece of string cheese, a wheat cracker or a slice of fruit. Avoid filling him up on juice which adds a lot of sugar, and hyperactive is not fun at night. Start with water and dilute the juice when you order it.

Order Smart

Most child-friendly restaurants will have a special children’s menu. However, you don’t have to stick with the traditional grilled cheeses and chicken nuggets. Why not order a meal you and your little one both would like and split it; add an extra small salad for yourself and it’s perfect. Or, stick with the kids’ options but outsmart the place with the beverage. Bring a sippy cup with his favorite juice and you won’t have to go with the lemonade. Whatever you order, ask the waiter to bring the kid’s order first (if you are not splitting) and request some bread or crackers if dinner takes longer.

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