Heading out to eat with kids in tow can often cause headaches for us parents. There are lots of things we need to consider and careful planning is often needed when eating out with kids.
We worry they won’t sit still so we pre-plan and prepare, packing colouring, small toys and distractions should they be needed.
Timing is optimal, eat too early and they aren’t hungry, eat too late and they are over hungry (hangry even) passed wanting food and the wait for food to arrive is never going to be an easy one for anyone.
Choices need to be thought out carefully – will they eat that curry if you head to your favourite Indian, is there something on the menu they will eat?
Then when you think you finally have everything perfectly aligned, the kids aren’t being devils, they are happy to head out and sitting nicely at the table, using their amazing manners – it can happen sometimes, and you may have all agreed on what you want to eat….Just when you think everything is perfect something outside of your control can happen to throw your happy medium off balance.
This happened to me and the kids over the summer holidays.
I treated the kids to an end of summer lunch in a local café. I chose one we hadn’t been in before, a Greek cafe, firstly checking the kids were happy with the menu. They chose spaghetti Bolognese and we happily headed for the garden seated area.
All going well, the kids playing with their new toys they had been treated to on the market for being good all week – Emmy playing with kinetic sand and Harry with his cars. We placed our order and the owner asks how old Harry was. Harry says 4 and he leaves, only to return 5 minutes later with his son in tow.
He places his son at my table along with his lunch and an iPad telling him to share and let his new friends watch too then disappears only to return with a young child in a buggy who he wheels to my table with his lunch, positions towards the tablet and leaves.
By now I am too gobsmacked to actually say anything. I was a Nanny for 14 years so guess my caring nature is noticeable. We all eat lunch together, I chat with the children, help them eat their lunch and then take them back into the café when it is time to leave and pay. I am thanked gratefully by the children’s Mumm who is cooking in the kitchen and I guess at the end of the summer holidays she was feeling the strain of being a busy working mum with 2 young kids at home just like I am.
It’s in that moment I no longer mind and am glad I could help her out a little and relieve the pressure.
I did turn to friends after this event though to ask if anything strange has ever happened while they were out dining with their kids.
Maria and her family were on the way home from lunch at Wings and her Mum had to drive her car behind an aeroplane which certainly isn’t an everyday occurrence.
Nikki says: “I had lunch with a friend at Betty’s in York (very nice tearooms). I had my son who was around a year old in a highchair next to me. The couple on the next table chatted to me and my son and then gave him £1 when they left. I don’t know why they gave him money – I think they thought he was well behaved – but I didn’t know what to make of it! (I thanked them profusely of course!).”
Karina tells a hilarious tale of dining with her daughter:
My daughter created a ham face mask while we were having lunch at Eureka, she was 3 at the time. It took us a while to notice, much longer than I would like to admit. Other children saw and copied, before we knew it there were 8 children wearing sandwich fillings on their faces.
Lianne was out having lunch her two and three year olds who were being quite good actually when a couple were being sitted next to them – they took one look at the kids and said quite loudly “oh no we don’t want to sit by them!”
Naomi tells a terrifying tale from a while ago:
My sister once got stuck in the toilet of a Greek restaurant when we were on holiday. She was about 11 and had locked herself in and the key got stuck. After about 10 minutes of panicking, our tour guide got the chef who brought in a massive meat cleaver, preparing to chop the toilet door down. Fortunately at that moment she managed to unlock the door and get out, to our great relief!
And if eating out weren’t hard enough, Kate retells a story of when her daughter was younger and was upset by a chain curtain in a restaurant. They ordered hoping the upset would pass and the owner told her she should be ashamed of her daughters behaviour as she was upsetting other customers – her daughter is on the Autistic spectrum but why should you have to make that known every time you eat out? Her parents were finding the situation hard enough as it was without being made to feel singled out. That said, Jen who also has an Autistic son and has always struggled when it comes to eating out, retells so happily of a recent trip when her son coped so well and was amazing and someone actually came to tell her that her son was a true credit and she must be so proud. Of course she is always proud of her son but having someone tell you they are great is always amazing.
What strange encounters have you come across when dining with your children?