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Eating out with children

As the weekend approaches, the menu from that wonderful restaurant down the street begins calling your name. You pack up the children for a few moments of great food, family time and BAM.....someone decides to lose their mind in the middle of dinner! It's okay, it happens to the best of us. I can remember when my youngest daughter was about one and a half, we decided to meet some friends for a bite out and right in the middle of being served she lost it! Like complete MELT DOWN lost it! I can assure you during that very moment I wanted to crawl under the chair and out of the restaurant as fast as I could. We survived and seventeen years later she could dine at the finest establishments so just know, you'll get there, but in the meantime.....

Here are some tips for going out to dinner with young children:

1. Ease into dining out. Research children & parent friendly establishments in your area. If you are in the Lexington, Ky. area we have a perfect place-best of both worlds; Poppy & Olive.

2. Don't wait until bedtime to head out; plan to eat early. Scheduling dinner an hour or two before normal meal time gives you plenty of time to be enjoy your meal with some wiggle room.

3. Pack distractions.. Poppy & Olive offers homemade playdough, conversation cards and we love these reusable, silicone educational mats from Amazon.

4. Always communicate expectations with your child. Children are smarter than we sometimes give them credit for being. Sit down and explain where you are going, and what you expect from them.

5. Check out the menu prior to arrival. RESEARCH so you don't spend the first 20 minutes deciding on what everyone is eating.

6. Order a dish you know your child will eat. It's great to try new foods from mom/dads plate but this is not the time to spring new dishes on your child!

7. Eat with a purpose. Order a light appetizer for the table to share.

8. Be considerate of others. Chef Cole from Poppy & Olive has a wonderful idea; ask for the check when the food arrives so you aren't hunting your server down in the event of a melt down.

9. Gratitude. If your server has gone above and beyond the average service please be sure to TIP beyond what you normally tip!

10. The earlier you start the easier it will come.

Our elementary class instruction begins in Kindergarten so it is important to establish basic table etiquette as soon as your child is able to hold a spoon.

As you try to navigate your way through table and dining etiquette with little ones I have a few basic etiquette tips to help.

1. Come to the table with clean hands and face.

2. As soon as seated, place napkin in lap. (even if paper)

3. Keep your elbows and other body parts off table.

4. Begin eating once everyone is served or when you've be given the okay to begin.

5. Say “Please pass the...." instead of reaching over others.

5. Try a small bite of everything. (This is a great way to introduce new foods)

6. Do not speak poorly of the food.

7. Ask permission when you need to be excused.

8. Offer to help clear the table.

9. Don’t made rude noises or talk over others.

10. Include everyone in the conversation.

11. Chew with your mouth closed and don’t talk until your food has been swallowed.

12. Sit up straight and remain seated.

13. Don't forget to thank whomever prepared your meal.

I hope these tips will help in making dining with your child a little less stressful and a lot more enjoyable.

"It's fun to get together and have something good to eat at least once a day. That's what human life is all about-enjoying things." - Julia Childs

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