Tuesday, April 5, 2011
At Mama Henley's house, we love to take our children out to eat. We don't do it as often as I would like, but whenever we do visit local restaurants, we try to arrive prepared. The best thing you can do for your children in ANY situation is to explain what they should expect. Our conversations are similar to this:
Mama Henley: "Children, we are going to visit a restaurant tonight for dinner. This is a big treat as Daddy is going to treat us and Mama Henley will not have to cook. It is very expensive to go out to eat, so you need to be careful when you order so that you will eat every bite. In fact, you may want to split a meal with your brother or sister.
We are going to walk in the restaurant and it will probably be fairly quiet. Do you think we should walk in the restaurant and talk loudly?"
Children: "NO!!! We should use our quiet inside voices."
Mama Henley: "That's exactly right. Now a hostess is going to seat us at our table and she will give each of us a menu. What do you tell her when she gives you a menu?"
Children: "We will tell her, 'thank you'."
Mama Henley: "Good! If the server asks you what you would like to drink, you will respond, 'Water please'. I will happily give you something else to drink at home, but unless the child's meal comes with a drink, you will drink water."
Children: "Yes, m'am."
Mama Henley: "You may then read your menu to determine what you would like to eat. They probably have chicken fingers, salad, macaroni and cheese, pasta with red sauce, or a hot dog or hamburger. They may have pizza. How many of you would like chicken fingers? " (I then go through the menu and determine what everyone would like to order. We try to share plates because our 5 usually cannot eat an entire meal by themselves.
Mama Henley: "Once you have ordered, you may sit quietly while we wait for our food to be served. Remember to keep your napkin and hands in your lap. When you eat, use one hand to hold your fork and be sure to chew with your mouth closed. When I was a child, we were told to thank the server up to three times throughout the meal. You do not have to thank your server every time he brings you something, but you should smile politely."
I let the children know behavioral expectations in advance. I also inform them if they are allowed to have dessert. We rarely have dessert unless it is included. In fact, I rarely serve dessert at home.
Our dinners are usually better if I have clearly outlined my expectations. When children understand that eating out is special, they are more likely to respect it and behave accordingly:).
I also try to bring crayons and paper into a restaurant. We have bought Doodle Menus and I keep a case of markers, crayons, and colored pencils in my car. What do you do when you take your children out to eat?