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Archive for Monday, December 29, 2008

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Tricks for dining out with kids

December 29, 2008

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Keirn Kuhlman watches every move her mother, Kendra Kuhlman, makes.

Keirn Kuhlman watches every move her mother, Kendra Kuhlman, makes.

Kendra Kuhlman ends up holding 6-month-old Les as he finishes eating while daughter Keirn looks off into the small crowd of people with little interest in the rest of her meal. When the kids get to out of control, the parents pack up and head home.

Kendra Kuhlman ends up holding 6-month-old Les as he finishes eating while daughter Keirn looks off into the small crowd of people with little interest in the rest of her meal. When the kids get to out of control, the parents pack up and head home.

Kendra Kuhlman, along with her husband, Quinn, often take their children Les, 6 months old, and Keirn 20 months old, out to eat. Kendra has leaned to pack a few extra items to keep her children entertained.

Kendra Kuhlman, along with her husband, Quinn, often take their children Les, 6 months old, and Keirn 20 months old, out to eat. Kendra has leaned to pack a few extra items to keep her children entertained.

Many things change once you have children.

Gone are the days when you could leave the house on a moment’s notice. Uninterrupted sleep becomes a thing of the past. And those leisurely meals spent out with your spouse where you’d actually order the slow-cooking risotto or soufflé are just about over.

But that doesn’t mean it has to be homemade mac-and-cheese or happy meals every night. Going out to eat can be a pleasant outing for kids and parents alike, especially in the chilly winter months ahead, if you keep just a few things in mind.

1. Get out while you still can!

Kendra Kuhlman, parent of a 6- and 20-month-old, recommends going out to eat often before your child is 6 months old.

“They are so easy at this age, and you can just tote them right in their car seat. Six to 12 months is much more challenging,” Kuhlman says.

2. Watch the clock.

Plan mealtimes so that your child is ready to eat but not so hungry he is irritable. Also take naptimes and bedtimes into consideration.

“I have a 7-month-old, and she is ready to go to bed at 6:30, so going out to eat is pretty much out of the question, unless we go closer to 5ish, even 4:30,” says Monika Eichler, a mother and early-childhood Waldorf teacher.

Another benefit of early mealtime? You avoid the dinner rush.

3. Find an atmosphere that works for your family

Eichler prefers quiet restaurants without a lot of stimulation.

“I found that my child cried in noisy places because it was too much for her,” says Eichler, whose Lawrence favorites include WheatFields Bakery Café, Aladdin’s Café and India Palace.

Kuhlman, on the other hand, finds the stimuli at louder restaurants helps keep her little ones engaged.

“I look for a speedy restaurant with much background noise,” says Kuhlman, who recommends small toys, stickers and patience to make the dining-out experience more enjoyable.

4. Look at the kids’ menu

Sure, the cartoon characters and mazes are nice, but what kind of food is being offered? Michael Beard, a father and chef at Teller’s, recommends looking for kids’ menus that have healthy choices and not just fried food.

“Our kids’ menu is basically simple dinner menu options with smaller portions like salmon, chicken or ravioli,” he says.

Exposing children to a variety of foods is likely to encourage a more adventurous palate later in life, he says.

And if all else fails?

“Of course, you can still have those unpredictable moments,” Kuhlman says. “Be prepared to pack up your food and have a take-out picnic at home.”

Comments

BuffyloGal 5 years, 3 months ago

I find that talking to my kids and making them part of the conversation keeps them from boredom. Call me crazy, but I like my kids and want to teach them the right way to get along with the rest of the world. Luckily I can always point to a child who is throwing a tantrum or one who is running around and say "Do you really want to look like them???". Sometimes I can point to obnoxious adults too! Being a snob has its benefits.

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Eric Neuteboom 5 years, 3 months ago

Confrontation, WRT your last post, I would like to (loosely) quote the Blues Brothers:"You're gonna look pretty funny trying to eat corn on the cob with no - - - - - - - teeth!"Seriously, THANK GOD you're removed yourself (willingly or not) from the gene pool. One less person of your ilk makes the world a better place.You may now commence your ad hominem attack.

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rachaelisacancer 5 years, 3 months ago

Madmike, I thought we'd never agree on anything. Now we do.Parents: They're your kids, not mine. Keep them in line, in their seats, shut up and out of the way!

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madmike 5 years, 3 months ago

Confrontation, do what my wife did, she stated to a mother "I love children, but I can't eat a whole one!"

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Confrontation 5 years, 3 months ago

Oh, and don't expect me to be nice to your brats when you allow them to hang over into my booth.

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Confrontation 5 years, 3 months ago

When you and your screaming brats are done eating, then leave the restaurant. Don't wait around while your child annoys everyone else. If you don't want to be trapped at home with the demon you created, then that's your problem. Don't torture everyone else.

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Multidisciplinary 5 years, 3 months ago

Liberty One,1947 version of your suggestion:My family at restaurant. Dad, Mom, 3-4 yr old girl, and a baby boy. Girl throws tantrum. Dad picks her up, takes her to the car parked right their by the window,( where they could she her, and she could see THEM.), puts her in it and goes back into the restaurant.She never ever acted up again.Parenting was given more respect back then. A mother could smack a behind in the store if neccesary, and everyone thought it well done.

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tangential_reasoners_anonymous 5 years, 3 months ago

madmike, my kids are too old to run around restaurants, so I must relish the unbridled expression of the children of others.canyon_wren... I suppose you're right, and, after all, who wants their kids playing in a morgue ( sin eatery ) , anyway?,;-)

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canyon_wren 5 years, 3 months ago

The diners who eat at "quiet restaurants without a lot of stimulation" probably wouldn't appreciate your children's hyperactivity. Better to stick with the plastic fast food places if you can't get a babysitter!

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madmike 5 years, 3 months ago

Why tangential? Do you allow your kids to run around a restaurant? It takes a villiage to raise the villiage idiot!

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tangential_reasoners_anonymous 5 years, 3 months ago

( madmike and Liberty just killed my appetite. )

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Liberty_One 5 years, 3 months ago

When your kid acts up in the restaurant, have one parent take them out to the car and sit for five minutes; no radio, no talking, just sitting--and the five minutes only start when they are sitting quietly. It's a pain to do, but if they know you're serious they won't act up anymore and you'll only have to do it a couple times.

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tangential_reasoners_anonymous 5 years, 3 months ago

Hmm... I actually relish the running of children, roughshod,through restaurants. Better than dessert.

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1029 5 years, 3 months ago

Just give them some Ambien and you can leave them in the car. Just cover them with a blanket or something so that nosy passerbys don't try to start trouble. You'll probably be able to go to a movie or out to a bar and they'll still be sleeping right through it. Parenting is all about mastering these little tricks.

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madmike 5 years, 3 months ago

And don't let your kids run around the restaurant like a bunch of idiots! It is not my responsibility to put up with your nasty ill-mannered kids. If you can't control them, get a damned babysitter!

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