I Need Some Advice, Tips, Tricks from More Experienced Moms-

Updated on March 25, 2011
J.B. asks from Denver, CO
38 answers

my 3 yo and 18 mo seem to behave pretty well in restaurants (as far as I'm concerned).
The problem is my MIL seems to think they should sit and be calm and quiet throughout
an entire meal. They usually make it halfway through. Restaurant visits typically last about
an hour, though sometimes longer.

At one point or another they both try to slide under the table to escape us. I'm sure they'd
love to wander the restaurant and make new friends, but this isn't possible. I need to figure
out a way to get them both to sit and "behave".

I have tried redirection, drawing, bringing an iPod loaded with shows, praising the behavior
when its desirable, etc. I'm stuck and frustrated right now because the aforementioned things
seldom work. Not sure if I'm not doing it right, but hoping there are other methods.

Neither will use a highchair (the tantrum is quite a sight), and I don't want to force them to sit
in boosters (don't feel they're safe), and like that both girls want to sit up proper like "big girls".

I do use a highchair as a threat when they start getting out of hand.

Please list out your tips and tricks and things that have worked for you in the past/currently.


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So What Happened?

additional info:

My kids are typically quiet and polite during meals out.
They just aren't happy sitting still all the way through a grown-up meal.
They are social and want to get up and go say hi to people.
We typically ask for a booth is available because it makes it easier to keep them "in".
My 18mo is fine not sitting in a highchair, and I won't force that issue. She wants to be a part
of the group and not be singled out. She is very independent. Not to mention- the tantrum she
throws when she gets forced into a highchair isn't worth it since she's capable of sitting at
the table with the rest of us. I pick my battles carefully- that's not one I'll engage in.
I do bring coloring books and other engrossing toys. Unfortunately their attention spans aren't
super big, yet.
I do follow through on consequences- always.

What things do you say to prepare your children for a restaurant experience?

Featured Answers


answers from Albany on

Gotta tell ya, you're already doing everything right. The only thing that will make them behave better than they already do is TIME.

I guess MIL forgot what it's like to lug around a couple squirmy toddlers?


6 moms found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Minneapolis on

I would never have expected my daughter (or my grandchildren) to sit for an hour in a restaurant at age 3. Your MIL is out of line here. If they are good for 1/2 hour, that is great! Take your MIL and kids to a faster restaurant and don't listen to any criticisms. You are doing a great job!

7 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I love eating out. I began bringing my son to restaurants when he was just an infant. Aahhhh....those were the days.

As he got older I realized I needed to bring an arsenal of stuff with me to entertain him. His behavior was pretty good. No tantrums. No yelling. It was nice.

This lasted until a couple of months after his 3rd birthday. That is when I realized that my bag of tricks just wasn't cutting it. He wanted to stand on the chair. He wanted to climb under the table. He wanted to empty out all the salt on the table. He wanted out of the restaurants.

That's when the "Great Restaurant Ban" began.

I simply stopped taking him out to eat with me. He couldn't handle it. It was stressing me out. Plus, I never really got to enjoy the food I just spent a bunch of money on and his usually sat there uneaten.

The "Ban" lasted until this past February. I took him out for a test run at a somewhat child friendly restaurant for lunch. I told him what I expected of him in advance and what the consequences would be if he acted up. We would get the food to go and leave.

He was great! He made it through the entire meal and we both ate most of our food.

He has since gone out to lunch with my husband and I a couple of more times, but to be honest, if I'm going to pay someone to cook my food I want to enjoy it without having to hide the salt and pepper shakers.


6 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Nothing frustrates me more than seeing a parent or guardian shopping or eating someplace with kids, and the kids, after quite a bit of time, start to get antsy and the adult gets MAD at the child! Seriously people - they are kids!

Kids cannot be expected to be lugged around a mall with mom shopping and be good the entire time. Mom needs to cut her shopping time down. Same idea here - they are doing well for their ages. So, if they cannot sit through the meal, maybe eating out has to wait till they're older. We cannot expect children to act like adults in a restaurant - we can expect them to behave, but it sounds as if they already are. If a child starts acting out in public, it is time to simply go home. This is one of the many sacrifices we make as parents - less "fun adult time". Your MIL should understand and should accomodate - ie - only eat at Kid Places, your house, leave right after eating and not visit, etc.

Good luck!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from La Crosse on

Walk into the restaurant, sit down, review the menu...give your order to the rest of the group for you and the kids as soon as possible...and walk outside or around the restaurant until the food arrives. Kids that age can't and shouldn't be expected to sit anywhere for that amount of time. Then once the food arrives that will buy you some time while they are eating. Once they finish...make it brief. At those ages...I think you are brave for even trying to have a meal in a restaurant.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Huntsville on

Your MIL is insane. I get wiggly after 30 mins. lol..

Seriously though it sounds like you are trying, but let's face it, restaurants are boring - especially when kiddos are expected to sit for the entire hour.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

If they can't behave the entire time then you may want to think twice about taking them out to a restaurant. An 18 month old should be in a high chair. If she throws a tantrum for that, then she's not ready for a restaurant. I'm sorry but I think I side with your MIL. I don't think she's the problem; when people go out to a restaurant they deserve to eat in relative peace and calm without having tantruming children interrupting their meal.

Try a faster paced restaurant that might be a little louder and more accommodating to children. We take our children to Buffalo Wild Wings frequently because, although they behave very well, there is still a lot of noise (to drown them out if necessary) and plenty of distraction. Red Robin is also a good choice. Order their meals first so that their food gets there quicker and you can cut up their food without having to deal with yours.

Sometimes taking them into the bathroom to have a one-on-one conversation about their behavior is necessary. If the behavior continues to be disruptive then leave. Pack up your food to go and get out of there. I'll never forget the time when I took my 3 year old out for pancakes for breakfast and he started throwing a fit the moment we sat down. I told him if he couldn't behave that we would leave. He didn't comply, we left. The entire way home he cried sadly because he wanted pancakes. It broke his heart but it sent a clear message. Bad behavior = no pancakes. PERIOD.

Be consistent with your behavioral message to your children. They should not get chance after chance to correct their behavior. If you threaten a consequence, mean it and follow through or they will have absolutely no reason to change their ways.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Harrisburg on

I believe if you practice at home sitting around a table, it would help when you get out. In the same light if they practice sitting still at a restaurant and in crowds, it will also help. You should also expect a little irritability but they should learn to sit still. Some tips I've used.

1. Choose a kid friendly restaurant.
2. Go when your kids will not be tired, irritated, etc
3. Stay short periods of time or get it to go
4. Sit toward the back of the restaraunt or in a secluded area
5. Plan ahead and stay away from busy periods for the restaurant.
6. Order your food with an intention to go if you have to and eat from the "box" per se.

I don't think one should expect to go to a 5 star restaurant and eat like an adult with kids in the mix unless they are older and have mastered the art of sitting still for an hour or so.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Your MIL either has a poor memory, or was a seriously intimidating mom, or had some kind of industrial-strength restraint system and heavy tranquilizers that worked for her children. Her expectations are not particularly realistic, although there is an occasional child who might be able to accomplish this miracle on a good day.

You'll save yourself (and your littles) a lot of grief by avoiding restaurants early and often until they've demonstrated that they're capable (some kids manage by around 4). But even then, there will be 'meltdown' days, based on all the young children I've ever known. And this includes "spanked" children, who can't always meet parental expectations, even if they know they'll get it.

What works pretty reliably is a babysitter, or Daddy at home while you get a girls' night out….

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

What we always did with ours was that we just PLANNED that someone would give the kids a break as soon as possible. What I mean is, if we had to wait for a table, someone held our place in line or seated in the waiting area, while the someone (usually my husband, but maybe grandad or nana) would take the kids OUTSIDE to walk around the sidewalk for a few extra minutes. Then, as soon as we were seated, we figured out orders. If the kids were potty trained, this is often when one of us would make a bathroom trip while the other placed our orders (or immediately after). Then, we'd draw on the paper napkin rings with a pen from my purse. THEN, we'd break out the smaller distractions you have mentioned: ipod, watches, hand held games, crayons, whatever. The food would arrive. We'd eat. Whomever was finished first would often take the kids for a quick stroll outside.

Kids at that age, no matter how well behaved and well mannered, just have a hard time physically sitting still for a long period of time like that. Even with handheld toys to keep their minds busy. They need physical motion. Give them small breaks of walking and it makes it easier for them to do what you need them to as far as staying seated.

We used this method, as needed, for as long as needed. Now we have very well mannered children (12 and 9) who order for themselves in restaurants and even know how (and when) to ask for special items (no sauce, potato instead of fries, refills, a to-go box, etc) and don't interrupt the server when she is taking an order from someone else - even at the same table/try to minimize the number of trips the server has to make, etc.

p.s. Since you mentioned that your kids are very social and like to "make friends" with the other diners, lol, you should tell them before going in to the restaurant that the other diners are busy with the people they are eating with. That they are having private conversations and eating and it would be rude to interrupt their meal. It's fine to smile, though. :)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I think you've done the best you can do. They are still awfully young to sit still and be quiet. I think if you can stay in a restuarant an hour for a meal that's great and you are doing extremely well.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

An hour is a LONG time for those age groups. I don't expect my kids to sit still that long. Things that help me.

- Getting a table in a corner. Sometimes there is room to let them stretch out.
- Take trips to the restroom/outside. Just like adults need smoke breaks (NOT!), kids need to stretch their legs too.
- Keep the food coming. Order an appetizer, or bring crackers, order a fun dessert.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

Do you and your MIL drive in the same car? If not, perhaps she could arrive early and get the table and decide what she wants to keep the dinners shorter. When my parents were visiting, I was fine with going out to dinner. What I didn't realize is how SLOW my dad is! We're all about sit down, order, eat and leave. And my daughters are now 5 and 6. I understand my dad wants to enjoy the meal etc but it's not worth the hassle. (My daughters are ok w/ an hour or so but they're older. Going on 2 hours w/ my dad is too long for them). My dad would study the menu for 20 min of course only after deciding which wine to order etc. I started to think he and my mother should just get a head start... So I think you've tried the right tricks and your MIL is being unreasonable. Many people can't even do a quick meal out w/ their 18 mo old. If you're kind of stuck w/ this routine though of all arriving at the same time, I think taking them for walks is the only answer.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

My son is 2 and for the most part, around 18 months, we stopped taking him out quite a bit. I am a realist on this topic that a toddler just isn't going to sit through adult conversation and a long meal, particularly if it's close to nap time or there are distractions-so we just avoid it. It's saves money and sanity!
If we do go out, we go early, we go to family friendly places, otherwise, we leave him with grandma.

When we are out, whether eating or in the shopping cart-here are my tricks:
-Plan it around nap schedules, ALWAYS-don't mix errands or eating with sleepy kids and crowds!
-I always bring a book of stickers (son loves them)
-I let him help, he helps push the cart, he helps bag produce, etc-he loves to help!
-I bring his leapfrog laptop, it's good in a pinch, can buy me 10-15 minutes
-Bring a toy car, 2-3 small picture books, and maybe a favorite character like a stuffed animal or something they really love
-I NEVER leave home without a snack and I am consistent about it. My son knows, if we go out to shop, he gets a juice box or a lemonade to have in the cart and a fun snack like animal crackers, a fruit bar, or pretzels
-If you're out and about, make time for them....squeeze in a stop at something fun. IE: I'll take my son to the kids area at the bookstore between the Target and grocery store stops, spend 30 minutes letting him do something he wants to do like play or look at toys, etc.

Mine doesn't like high chairs anymore, so we don't even bother, but he's told consistently to sit like a big boy and eat like a big boy. If it's gets to out of hand, you leave...simple as that, I don't believe in allowing my kid to be a menace to other paying customers. The easiest thing is to just be consistent in all that you do, the expectation, the where and when you go out and how you handle problems.

It has to be hard with two small ones so close in age! Just do your best and it will get easier!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Spokane on

I guess it depends on your idea 'behaving'. If you want your kids to sit still and quiet for a whole hour, take a picture and tape it to the chair.

For me, I'm happy if my kids stay in their seats and are not disruptive to other diners. Meaning, they are not yelling, throwing things, running around, etc. My girls are 4.5 and almost-3 (and 3 months, but she sleeps through everthing! lol) years and behave very well I think.

Some things that we do to 'help' them behave is
1) we only go to family-friendly restaurants.
2) we order their food as soon as possible and let them eat when it arrives 3) we often eat before the dinner rush, so around 4pm. Yes it's early, but the wait staff are more patient and able to give the kids a little extra attention (yes, we tip well) and there aren't many other diners.
4) we bring a few distractions for them to play with, but nothing that will rile them up more.

I think it sounds like your kids are GREAT in a restaurant! Don't stress about it and enjoy your dinners out :o)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

This is tough. I've been able to get my son, since he was 2, to sit through an hour long meal on multiple occassions thanks to lots of different toys, from cars, to puzzles, to coloring, to even playing iwth the salt and pepper shaker, to giving lollipops. I'm not always successful and sometimes we do go for walks while waiting for the entree or desert, but for hte most part the games/distractions work well. Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Cincinnati on

loading an Ipod with shows??? wow I can say I have never heard of that or seen it.

what works for me is barbies, Play dough and suckers. I start with the barbies, then play dough (Before the food comes out)..once the food comes, its time to eat..once they are finished (about a minute later LOL) thats when I tell them they get a sucker but need to sit and eat the sucker and play with the barbie/playdough.
Good luck. I only have 1, not sure if I could handle 2. :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

I haven't read through all of the responses, so I may be repeating things. I think to a certain degree that just comes with the territory with kids of those ages, especially the 18 month old. I have kids exactly the same ages and we are always working on the going out experiences. When my 18 month old is done, he is DONE. The only suggestions I have are to choose restaurants where you can be done with a meal relatively quickly. Places like Chipotle, Noodles and Co. etc...where you order and then sit down help to speed things up. Sometimes we look at a menu online and choose (or at least narrow down) what we want ahead of time so we don't waste good behavior time on the ordering process and then have to wrangle them when we want to be enjoying the food. We have one restaurant that actually lets us order ahead of time, so the food is ready when we get there and we can just enjoy the meal and then leave :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Fort Wayne on

If they don't use a highchair and everyone is ok with that, then what's the big deal? My kids needed high chairs because they were (and still are) little, so there's no way sitting in a regular chair was even an option.

Take a TON of toys and just pull them out one at a time.
Order their food first and have it come out before yours.
Explain to them that it's not polite to be climbing all around the table and restaurant. You're 3 year old should get it, your 18 month old won't.

Here's my real advice though. Don't go out to dinner with you MIL. Seriously. Invite her to your house or go out to dinner with out the kids.
Most of the time dinner at a restaurant takes at LEAST an hour. That's a LONG time for a toddler to sit still, even if they're watching shows. Yeah, some of that time should be taken up by eating, but not that much! And if your girls are like mine, they're too distracted in restaurants to eat anything!

We've always taken our girls out to eat. Sometimes they're good as gold, other times...not so much :) I think as long as they aren't screaming, throwing food, or running away then they're doing pretty good! LOL!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Developmentally it is not realistic to expect a 3 year old and an 18 month old to sit through an hour plus meal.

I think you need to readjust your expectations (more likely your MIL's expectations) and shorten the time period for your meal.

That said - to keep them busy for a period of time, I usually do the following with my kids:
Bring snacks so they can eat something as soon as they sit down
Ask for their food to be brought out first so you can get it started for them before your food arrives
plan to serve them dessert so they have something they will still want to be eating while you finish yours

And finally - try to do it all as quickly as possible so you can leave before they get bored.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

First and foremost, do not let your MIL intimidate you. Your kids are VERY young yet and expecting them to sit through a dinner perfectly behaved is ridiculous. I have four kids and my first one was pretty much the one that sat there perfectly throughout a meal, but even then he only lasted about an hour before he got squirmy. Since my 2nd was born 5 years ago, my husband and I know that 45 minute meals is the limit before everyone starts getting worked up and heaven for bid start behaving like the children that they are.

All that being said here are some of our tricks:

- I do not sweat the small stuff, if they want to eat the jelly at the table I let them eat it with a spoon. Same with the cream, flipping through menus, etc.

- I make sure I have crayons and paper on hand.

- I get them something from the waitress right away for them to snack on. this will occupy them a bit before the food comes.

- I make sure I decide what I want to get for them before I get to the restaurant so there is no delay in ordering (this is how we force the 45 minute meal thing)

- We choose very loud restaurants so if the kids are loud, no one cares (Texas Roadhouse is great!)

- Here is a big one! We are very selective in who we even attempt dinner with. We do not go with critical people, the stress is not worth it. Once in a while we do big family dinners for birthdays and indeed I have an aunt that believes children should keep their place. I am just always sure not to sit by her or have my younger kids in her line of sight. I also make sure everyone else in the family is in on the plan so only my two oldest and my brother's boy are by her since they are old enough to behave properly in a restaurant.

- None of my kids ever did the highchair thing, it does cause a problem and we do not do boosters either. With this I have found that if the restaurant has booths they work better than chairs, something about being able to move around a bit so they aren't so confined and I can sit at the end so they can't get out.

- As a last resort, I choose a lot of times to serve dinner at home, especially to the MILs of the world. Then if my kids are off a bit, I can at least still enjoy my meal and not stress over the evil-eye watching and judging my kid's every move.

I am not sure if this helps, but it works a bit for us. In short, I am sure your kids are fine and your MIL is just one of those people. My MIL is like that too. Just remember, the more you go with the flow, the more you can enjoy and the better your kids will be - and keep it short. I don't know very many kids that can make it more than 45 minutes and that is still asking a lot!

Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I think your kids sound like they are doing very good, given their ages! Just keep it up...remind them that others are trying to eat and visit and its time to be still and as quiet as we can be.

~I let my kids stack the creamer and jams, if there are any on the table...sometimes we play a mock card game with the coasters...or if need be I get them going on a game of eye spy (mine are a bit older than yours)...I always allow them either chocolate milk or even a sprite or root beer while we are there too, this usually keeps them occupied for longer because it is a treat. I am a stickler for them being quiet and not disrupting others around us, BUT I have been known to let them (once or twice) change sides of the booth by going underneath, they think that is SO COOL, so I use it to my advantage and let them do it if they have been good! It also helps to try to keep them as involved in the conversation as you can.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

We usually order the kids foods first (like when the appetizers come) so they are fed and happy while we eat our meals.

Then once they start getting antsy again, we start talking to them and including them in our conversation. We also play, I Spy and do colors, shapes, ABC.

We use the coloring pages for the first part of the meal (while they wait for their food).

Also - we let them know once they start acting up "Is this how we are supposed to act" or "Didn't we want dessert when we get home? Do you think this is good behavior to earn dessert?" (we don't always have dessert but on the occasion we use that line).

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

More than an hour is too long for children this age. I would suggest 45 minutes if you want them to sit throughout the meal. They are too young to ask for anymore than that. It just isn't age appropriate for them to still quietly for an hour or more.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

I agree with everyone here except the ones that agree with your MIL, which is not that many, thank goodness. otherwise nobody would be allowed to have kids or restaurants would have a sign that says adults only. Families with kids are condemned to stay home! I've had people leave when one of my kids was screaming in a restaurant, and of course I had to take her outside till she was calm, but those people who act like that were never kids themselves, their parents NEVER took them to restaurants. They are INSANE and disfunctional!!
but one thing that might help is love and logic and they instruct you to practice with your kids at home, so they would learn to behave while at
dinner or face consequences, just like they would in a restaurant. Your home is your teaching ground.
but again things can happen with your kids when you're out, and you can't always control them. Some people want to beat you up for that, because they know better!!They should be ignored. or make faces at them!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

My husband and I take turns walking the children around the restaurant and outside usually until the food comes. Then when we're eating and they're already done, the coloring and other toys come out and they're not bored with it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

When our kids act up at a restaurant, someone takes them outside to run for a minute or two and/or hold them until they calm down and we bring them back to the table.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chattanooga on

Have you tried bringing a coloring book for them? lots of restaurants provide color pages and crayons... I think it would work better for them because it actively engages them instead of hoping a show keeps their attention.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

Let the kids run wild, get lots of energy out before you go to a resturaunt and then they will be ready to sit for a while. Go to resuraunts that are fairly quick to serve the food and do not go at busy times (week day around 5 is good). The three year old should be able to sit and eat and be good for at least 30 to 45 minutes and should be expected of them. The 18 month old is at a hard age to get to sit still so I just don't go out a lot at this age and all you can really is try to keep them entertained. Really it's a hard age to go out and with time will get better but start making good standards at home now.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

But.. you said "They just aren't happy sitting still all the way through a grown-up meal. " mmhmm, a "Grown-up meal". If you have to take kids that young out to dinner, you have to realize their limitations. That's why you don't take them out to a grown-up meal. By all means, take them out as much as you want to age-appropriate restaurants and meals..but if you want a grown-up meal, leave the kids at home!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pocatello on

my daughter is in between your two kids in age and she does "ok". My advice is to pick the restaurant wisely. Anything quiet and "refined" just wont work for toddlers! the best places might be loud sports grills or places with game rooms, or pizza joints, or other kid-friendly restaurants.

My daughter gets the fussiest when she is ignored for too long. Adult conversation is PAINFULLY boring to toddlers who don't get it. No, you don't have to spend every second talking to your kids either... but when they start to fuss make sure to look over and give them a minute or two of time in the spotlight. Also, take advantage of at least one "potty" break, even if the 18 mo old isn't there yet! A short trip to and from the restroom could give them enough of a break to be able to sit a little longer.

If they really are done... politely ask for your check and duck out *ideally* before any tantrums are thrown. If your MIL cannot appreciate that you are doing YOUR BEST.... well she can just stick it in her craw. (just kidding)!

Good Luck!



answers from Denver on

It sounds like you are doing the best you can do with two little ones---your MIL's expectations are WAY TOO HIGH!! Little kids get antsy. One thing that helped for me is to get them up before the meal and take them back to the kitchen to watch people cook (if the restaurant allows it). We also did car races back and forth across the table. And letting them sit from lap to lap.
Honestly, though, it sounds like they are just typical kids :-)



answers from Denver on

Hi J. - gosh did you ever get a lot of responses! Sorry I didnt read through them all. I want to read through them - I dont know anyone who doesnt have this "problem". I hope my input will help you.

First off, it sounds like you have reasonable expectations but that your MIL maybe doesnt remember what it was like to have young kids. I think going to a restaurant should be fun for everyone - even the kids. When we're faced with a situation of going to dinner with someone with a low kid tolerance - even my MIL - or we are going to a quiet restaurant where the kids will find the environment challenging, we try to get a babysitter or use drop-in day care. We have more fun and the kids do too. Depending on the circumstance, there were also times we put the youngest in childcare and just took the older child.

Also, I think your girls "table tolerance" of 30-45 minutes is pretty age appropriate for 18mo and 3yo. If you are comfortable with it, you might consider allowing your older child to stand next to you at the table rather than sit when she starts getting antsy. My boys are 4 and 8 and so they are finally getting the hang of going to a restaurant as long as it's a casual one. They are rewarded with some ice cream for dessert if their behavior warrants it and that is a good motivator. We also use a lot of "car games" to keep the conversation at the table going in the right direction and my husband and I takes turns at keeping the kids interested.

Also when your kids are older and they can understand it better - just explain to them what you want them to do at a restaurant and discuss some strategies with them about what to do when they get bored. Allow them to come up with some of the ideas too. We've actually had some really fun times at restaurants just playing the game "good manners - bad manners". "wiping your mouth with a napkin is . . . good manners. Putting your spoon in your brother's ear is . . . bad manners"

The one thing we hate we to see when we go out to dinner is when the kids are completely disengaged from the rest of the family. Kids are playing games on their DS or they have earbuds in, etc. I think part of that comes from the idea that kids need to be quiet and otherwise busy and allow the adults to visit and enjoy their dinner. Just food for thought about the whole idea about taking kids out to a restaurant. I think they should be an active part of the party.

Have fun and enjoy those little wonders!




answers from Salt Lake City on

You've already kind of nailed it : their attention span isn't long enough for a "grown-up" meal in a restaurant. And really, it's unfair to expect any more of them - sounds like they are doing great for their age.

My best advice - when you go out with kids, go to very family-friendly, quicker service places. I think of Denny's or Village Inn as such. If you want to go somewhere nicer, that you expect will take longer than they can tolerate, try to arrange a baby-sitter. That way everyone can enjoy themselves, and the kids aren't being given unrealistic expectations. That's what we did (and still do, to an extent, since our boys, 7 & 10, are still very active and wiggly).But they do grow into longer patience spans.



answers from Pocatello on

My first piece of advice is don't go out to dinner with your MIL if she is expecting perfect behavior from such young children! Maybe invite her to your home to eat or a fast food joint with a play area. Or get a babysitter and leave the kids at home! BUT, I have gone to many sit-down restaraunts with little kids and it is do-able. What you are already doing is great, you can also take the kids for a little walk after you order and before the food arrives. I have had to tell my husband what to order for me a couple of times so that I could take an antsy toddler on a walk outside. If it is too cold outside the restaraunt then just a walk to the bathroom and back is sometimes enough, take the longest route possible. And point out all the interesting sights along the way, many restaraunts have interesting decor that kids might want to stop and look at, just as long as they are not staring at the other diners! You can also bring your own "appetizers" for your kids, a few well-timed crackers or Cheerios can do wonders, and the waitstaff will not care. Another important consideration is where you eat, the very nicest 5 star places are NOT for kids! Most mid-priced chain restaraunts are family friendly though and people eating there know to expect kids to be there. Like Applebees, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Texas Roadhouse, Outback Steakhouse, etc. Just stay away from Trendy-Fine-Dining-Asian-French-Fusion-Costs-a-Week's-Salary type places, save those for date night! Good luck!



answers from Provo on

we like to get take out and eat it at home!



answers from Philadelphia on

well sorry to tell you this but i agree with your mil. i have 3 kids of my own so i dont want to sound out of touch. one of my pet peeves is a screaming child in a public place. why should other people be forced to have to deal with that. they are paying for a relaxing meal and should not have to day with someone elses child screaming.

it could be more time then your child is able to that well behaved. your kids might be behaving really good and they just take it another second. so go to a quick place like a pizza place or get a sitter.
i know easier said then down i realize that. its not a relaxing situation for you your husband, kids or anyone else with ear range when a child is screaming.
your mil in is probably embrassed that her grandchild are making a fuss.
my children are not perfect..realize your kids limits if this is a common occurence they are telling you its too much. or be more consistent with discipline.also if your going to use the highchair as a threat you need to follow up but not in the restauraunt. follow up at home so your kids know you mean business. good luck...being a mom is not easy.


answers from Salt Lake City on

I agree with Tiffany W. and all her ideas. We do pretty much all of those things.

We have taken our kids out to eat since they were born. BUT, we only go out 2-3 times a month. It is a special treat. The kids know that. We also make it very clear that if they act up, throw tantrums, get down under the table, etc., then that treat will be taken away. There have been a few instances that right in the middle of dinner, my kids acted up. I very kindly & quickly asked for our check & some boxes to pack up our food, even though our meal wasn't even half over. I explained to our server that the food & service was fabulous, but that our children had broken the rules & that our "special treat" (aka dinner out) was over. My husband then very calmly & rationally took the children out to the car & waited while I payed the check & boxed up our food. They sat in their car seats until I came out, then we came home, got in jammies, brushed teeth, said prayers, & they went straight to bed. They understood that it was unacceptable for them to break our "rules" for special dinners out. This has only happened 3 times. My kids are 5 & 2 1/2. This happened once 2 years ago, and twice last year. I don't think that it is unreasonable to expect your children to behave for 45 min-1 hour (depending on the circumstances). We don't take our children to fancy quiet restaurants. We go to family friendly places. I don't agree with your MIL that they need to be quiet the whole time, but they do need to behave. My children are VERY well behaved, because that is what we expect of them. I am a firm believer that once you have established the boundaries, the kids will push the limits of those boundaries until they see that the boundaries are set & won't budge, then the kids will "back off" so to speak. We have gotten many compliments from other diners at restaurants about how well behaved they are.

It sounds like you are doing the right things. Don't set your expectations too hight right off the bat. Work up to it at home. Be consistent. Good luck!


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