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These will help you get through those first few years when your toddlers are still young and your preschooler’s attention spans aren’t QUITE their yet.   As your kids get older (four-years-old and on…) it gets easier and even more enjoyable… if you teach them the proper way to go out to eat when they are younger.A silver spoon with a knife and fork and text above them.

We love to go out to eat, but it is often hard to do, with our children being the ages that they are.   We have a grade-schooler, preschooler, toddler, and an infant.  These ages making eating out more stressful than fun, at times.  We still enjoy it and our older kids love to eat out.  Plus, we don’t eat out often, which makes it even more special when we do go out!  I am going to share with you some tips for taking your young children out to eat.
Before I begin, be sure to check out my money-saving tips for eating out– it will give you so many great tips to save money (on eating out and beyond!).


When we do go out, we have found these tips to be incredibly helpful:

1-Call ahead & order your meal and they will have it ready for you (at your table!)

We don’t do this often, but I have several friends that do this every time that they eat out. Call ahead, order your meal & it will be ready when you get there.  You can still EAT THERE, but you won’t have to wait for your meal.

2- Bring a pen

Play tic tac toe or hangman with your kids.  Play the game where you make dots to make squares (the dot-to-dot game, we call it).   Play the dictionary.  If you go to somewhere kid-friendly like Buffalo Wings & Rings, you can even play games while watching real sports games on TV.  
Our kids do this with my husband…  so “I say the next team to score is the Steelers.  If they score, you have to make a silly face.  If the Panthers score, I have to make a silly face.”  It is a fun game that the kids LOVE!


3-  ALWAYS have some sort of treat in my purse… 

It could be a special marker that they love to use.  
It could be a page of stickers.
 It could even be a piece of candy.
I usually give our kids a little treat after their meal- it keeps them busy, quiet, and lets us enjoy our time out as a family just a little bit longer.   Lollipops are key in our house.   I especially love them when we have a visit to the Doctor’s office. They last long & everyone likes them.

When I take them in my purse to go out to eat, I save these for the last few minutes of our meal, when the kids are getting restless and they are waiting for the grown-ups to finish eating.

The rule in our family, when eating lollipops while we are out at a restaurant: You may only eat it AFTER your meal and while you are SITTING in your seat.  They can not get up.  They can not move to another seat.  They have to be seated and using good manners.

4- Electronics (WHAT?!)

I never wanted to be one of those moms that brought DVD players or tablets or phones to the table… but desperate times call for desperate measures! I now always keep one in my purse for when we are out. It’s not our older kids that need it, but if our toddler or baby gets upset, it is best to have something on hand, just to get us through the meal.

We usually make it for about 20-40 minutes and that’s when our toddler starts to get antsy, so I surprise her with my phone ( I put on The Letter Factory & he is good for twenty more minutes while we finish eating.

5- “What am I?”

Give hints about what you are and have the kids guess.  (Example:  “I have four legs, black & white stripes… what am I?”)
You could even play the game “WHERE am I?”  We do this and use restaurants & stores as our example…

6- Play “What’s your favorite _____”

(Movie, drink, food, shirt, vacation spot).   We go around the table and give our answer.  We are all engaged in conversation & keeping to ourselves.  Our kids love this game!  They love to tell everyone their answer and they love to hear our answers, as well.

Here are a few more conversation starters. 

7- Color their pictures of THEMSELVES with this  DIY photo book. 

Kids drawing on pictures of themselves.

8- Go somewhere family-friendly!

We love it because it is family-friendly.  Plus, we have three boys and they love sports, so this is the perfect place for them!  My husband suggests it every time that we eat out after our son’s game. 


Do you want more tips?
Check out how I teach our kids to behave at the grocery store! 


Hi there!

I’m Becky, a former elementary school teacher turned certified child development therapist and blogger. I work at home with my husband and together we are raising (and partially homeschooling) our four children in the Carolinas. I love diet coke, ice cream, and spending time with my family.

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  1. When we were kids, our parents had a very good plan. They used to challenge we kids to finish meals and eat in such a way that we should not show our teeth! And it always used to work 🙂

  2. I did not know that you could call some restaurants and preorder. That is very convenient.

  3. Those are fantastic tips! I would love to take my kids out to eat more often. These would help. And that Buffalo Wings and Rings restaurant is my kind of place! Man, that food looks amazing! #client