5 Tips for Dining Out With Kids


Do you take your kids out to eat at restaurants? For some, the mere thought of getting out the door with kids and eating in public — where everyone is a bit out of their comfort zone — is entirely too stressful. And, believe me, I get that. I used to feel that way, but over time with my two little ones, I’ve grown really excited and happy to bring my kids out to experience new meals in new environments. I recently made a list that I swear by to ensure your dining out experience with toddlers is totally doable (and enjoyable).

Below are 5 of my tips for dining out with kids:

1| Scope out family-friendly places

With a little research beforehand, you can find plenty of kid-friendly restaurants that’ll suit your family’s needs for a meal out. Sure, it may not be the fine dining backdrop you might want or offer an adult ambiance, but that’s for another time.

Some cafes have books, kids’ corners, or even games. If you’re part of any online groups like Central Mass Mom Community Chat or Worcester Eats, drop your question and answers will flood in. Locals have a lot of answers. Lean on your community!

Here are some local restaurants that our family loves to visit:

Root & Press (Worcester) – book corner

Olo Pizza (Worcester) – bocce area in the back

Pinecroft (West Boylston) – games, puzzles, coloring books

Seven Saws Brewery (Holden) – large backyard area to run around/live music

2| Set the tone with your kids

First, tell your children what to expect before leaving. Don’t we all like to know that anyway? 

Where are they going?
Where will they sit?
What kinds of foods can they order?
How long will they be there?

Keep it simple. By filling them in on the experience ahead they can mentally prepare, just as an adult would.

3| Timing is everything

If you’re just getting started with dining out with kids, I suggest going out for breakfast first. Since most kids get up pretty early give them a light snack (like fruit or yogurt) to hold them over and be on your way. Breakfast out is typically quick and a bit louder, which is ideal with kids. Many times there are other children out at this time, which can reduce stress.

Also, I would highly recommend ordering your child’s meal ASAP. When the server comes over, place their order first so they can start eating before your meal comes out. Trust me on this one!

4| Bring things to do/play with at the table

Although many parents rely on tablets when they’re out for their kids, we love to look at mealtime as family bonding time. We love to chat, laugh, play games, and talk about our food or things going on in the restaurant. It’s not always chill (believe me), but we try to make the most of it!

For our family, we bring a small bag of little toys for the kids, with race cars, small coloring books and crayons, fidget toys, and small board books. As soon as we’re seated, the bag comes out and they are immediately entertained.

5| Let go of your expectations

Dining out with kids isn’t super relaxing. Just know that. You’re going to have to get up and walk around with them. There may be a diaper change in a small bathroom, crumbs and forks falling to the ground, and there could be a tantrum.

Remember, this isn’t a date night or girl’s brunch. Keep it real with yourself.  Before you even step in, tell yourself, “I’ve got this. This is one meal. Let’s have some fun.”

You can go out to eat with your kids. I just know it. Trust yourself. You’re a great mom and can DO this.

Now, set a plan, get excited, and hit the road.


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