Eating out has become a fun event for our little family, and it also seems to be a good way to document Nicholas’ (and my own) growth. Of course there have been challenges in taking him out in public, but overall we really have enjoyed the experience.
I’ll start with Spur, because it seems to have the most history for me.
During university in Grahamstown at Rhodes I used to drink bottomless coffee and chocolate brownies with fellow students. Ah, those were the days.
I even worked at the Spur for three months at home in PE. I hated the job, to be honest, but at least I got a free Spur burger. (Still love that taste!)
The first time I got off the plane to meet DH in person we went to the Spur. And we had a few dates there afterwards too.
Nicky first went there as a baby. I actually got up the guts to breastfeed him in public the third time we went.
Later on when he moved to solids, I brought bananas with. Then his pouches.
You can see in this picture he is sitting on my lap. But there are other seating options. These days he seems more comfy out of his seat, but we used to put him in a chair that attaches to the table. From there (before he was interested in food) we would give him something to play with (like a truck). Of course he loves the balloon too. What’s nice about this seat (if he is suitably occupied) is that it keeps him more secure and he won’t fall out.
Spur also have a super kiddie section. At Brightwater Commons it is a separate room upstairs. Nicky liked to ride in a toy car they had there. But I kind of didn’t feel okay leaving him there alone since he is still so young.
I guess we will always be Spur people.
Recently we have also been going to the Wimpy. Wimpy also has crayons and balloons. I had even starting ordering his own meal for him. We tried the toast and egg as well as the chips and fish fingers. Nicky did not seem to eat much of the fish fingers but I did manage to get him to eat some toast and egg. Previously he would never eat it at home on weekends but now he is gradually showing some interest.
What I also love about the kiddies meal is the free toy. They get a Mr Men / Little Miss toy which has a button that lights up. This was a big hit with Nicky. I like it because we can then read the book that goes with it, which is often very entertaining. We can talk about how Mr Strong eats lots of eggs to be strong (to encourage him to eat eggs), how Little Miss Giggles laughs (hee hee hee) and how poor Mr Bump kept hurting himself but he found a way to take advantage of the situation. You see, it’s educational!
Of course Nicky likes to use the toy as a ball so sometimes we have to hide it till we go home!
Nicky also likes playing with crayons but unfortunately he also likes flinging them on the floor. At home he likes to put them behind the couch and finds it very amusing when we move the couch back and forth to get them out.
In conclusion, if you are thinking of taking your little one out to eat, you may want to heed the following tips:
1) Make sure they are well rested before. If you are going out in the evening, make sure they had a nice afternoon nap. Tantrums are less likely if the kid doesn’t need to sleep.
2) Leave the balloon to the end unless you want to be repeatedly hit with it, run up and down catching it as he hit it, or get your food all over it.
3) Make sure you have something to keep him (or her) busy if he isn’t into food yet (cars will do for boys).
4) Free toys and crayons need to be managed. If it looks like they are just going to be thrown, you might want to have that nappy bag handy to hide them in. Or else you are going to be crawling on the floor a lot to pick them up.
5) Sometimes you will have to bail. If the toddler cannot keep still you will have to take him outside to provide necessary distraction. I remember one time when Nicky was grumpy at Brightwater Commons my father and DH basically had the meal to themselves while I walked outside with Nicky showing him the water. Last time when he got cranky waiting for desert at Cresta DH took him to play with the blocks.
Eating out can be a great time to have family fun. But I also want to mention that all restaurants that cater for kids, although winning in entertainment, free toys and balloons, can still work a lot of improvement into their meals to make them more nutritious. Natasha Clark of Raising Men has written a great post on this.
But we still love the fun of going out.
I’d like to know your experiences of eating out with a toddler and if you have any tips to share?