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Rebecca Eckler’s Guide To Family Dining

Posted By Rebecca Eckler on November 28, 2011

Tagged: Rant, Rave, Rebecca Eckler

Most people I know love to go out to eat. A full menu of food to choose from, having someone wait on you – and the best part, not having to do any dishes. But this relaxing experience does change when you throw a couple kids into the mix.

For one, kids don’t have the attention span to sit during an entire meal, so that in itself can cause some frustration. Kids can also be quite picky when it comes to food, and what kind of mother would I be if I let my daughter order only dessert? And with really young ones, there is the embarrassing mess (for the life of me I can’t wrap my head around how one person can cause such a disaster). Lastly, eating out costs a lot of money, and pleasing a fickle child can really add to the bill.

So how do you bring the kids out to dine with you and keep your sanity at the same time?

For one, choose a child-friendly restaurant. Don’t bring them to a fine dining place because they won’t know what to do with themselves. And do you really want to order a $25 entrée for someone who probably won’t even finish it? No. Find a place that is more family oriented – they usually have a kids menu that is a lot less expensive.

And when it comes to money, think about using credit cards that can earn you money back or spend already earned money on those dinners out. Credit cards like the TrueEarnings Card from Costco and American Express are great for this. You can charge your meal to the Card and make money back from the purchase, or cash in your earnings in January for another dinner out. They offer 3% cash back on your spend at restaurants, so this will surely make dining out a lot more affordable.

One of the best things I’ve learned works to help minimize tantrums or any kind of what-to-eat-conflict is choosing the food before you get there. Most restaurants have online menus so sit with your kid before you go and decide what it’s going to be. This way you aren’t wasting time (or getting into an argument) at the restaurant. If there is something to argue about at least you can do it in the privacy of your own home and save yourself from gawking strangers and disapproving looks.

Another important thing to remember is bringing something along to keep them entertained. When it was just me and my daughter I found bringing a book she loves or having her colour was a good way to get through the meal. Now that she has company (my boyfriend’s two daughters) I find they need less attention because they keep themselves occupied, but, it’s always good to bring something for them just in case.

The most crucial element to a dinner out with the kids is to remember they are just that – children! You can’t hope that they will sit there like perfect angels because that won’t happen. Just be clear about what your expectations are before you get there, be stern when you need to be and just enjoy yourselves.

Happy dining!

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