Eating Out With Children

contributed by Julie

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My husband and I enjoy a good dinner at a "real" restaurant. You know, those restaurants with menus handed to you rather than on a board behind the counter. With the cost of babysitting in our area, it's not always practical to hire a sitter, and our family lives away. Thankfully, our three children love to dine out and are generally very well behaved. To make the evening affordable, and enjoyable, we follow these general guidelines:

  1. When possible, use coupons. We buy an Entertainment book from our local high school band each year. This offers a number of two-for-one dining coupons at some fairly upscale places. We have found some hidden gems with this book!
  2. We scout the weekly newspapers and free papers that are distributed around town. These generally contain coupons for heavy discounts on two-for-one dinners.
  3. Our children either split an adult entree or appetizer, or the little ones get an extra plate and eat some of our dinner. This has also made our children really enjoy a diverse selection of food. They rarely will eat the fries/chicken fingers selection because they were introduced to the really good stuff at age one!
  4. Go early. Even the nicer restaurants don't care if you bring children if you are there when the place is relatively empty, plus they give you all of their attention! The couples wanting a quiet evening away from children tend to dine later, so you are not likely to offend anyone eating at 5 p.m. If you question taking children to a particular restaurant, call and talk with the manager. They will be honest!
  5. Have the kids split a drink or drink water. Their full sodas or milks generally do not get consumed anyway.
  6. Enjoy and realize you are getting a great meal and teaching your children skills that they will carry with them forever. Your teaching them how to act and how to save money!

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