We love the Mexican restaurant in our hood. The food is decent, the service is good and it is ridiculously kid-friendly. (I can’t use the word ridiculous anymore without thinking of my brother who suddenly started saying, “It was so diculous, it was RI-diculous.” Cracks me up in an I-must-have-been-a-14-year-old-boy-in-another-life sort of way)
We often leave our table with a 3-foot blast radius of red rice and pinto beans and they still act like we’re their best friends (and this doesn’t include the mess Dan and I make, although most of mine usually lands on my convenient nursing shelf).
“NiÃ±a!” they shout as Laylee walks through the door. Throughout the meal she is repeatedly rubbed on the head, grinned at and called NiÃ±a. (That is not her name, but we don’t want to make them feel bad.)
Some restaurants are not so good on the kid-friendliness. I love it when an 11-year-old heavily pierced waitress hands Magoo a box of crayons (for food?) and brings Laylee one of those tiny wooden highchairs. Technically, I’m sure I could squeeze her patoot into the 10 inch opening but then “technically” she would go mental and clear out the joint. So, we graciously decline the offer. She’s a BIGIRL! Do you hear me?
My main tip for maintaining sanity while dining out with kids is – SPOONS.
Yes, mi amigos. We ask for a large order of spoons with our drink order. We hand one to Magoo. He sucks on it until he gags himself and then throws it overboard. 2 seconds later, we hand him a clean one. The sucking, the gagging, the tossing. Periodically, he bangs it charmingly on the table. Everyone at the surrounding tables loves that trick. It is a fabulous game that has gotten us through many meals without baby mind-lossage.
I’m sure you all have good suggestions, maybe even as good as SPOONS (although I’m skeptical) that will work to occupy a baby during dinner. But how about older kids? What’s your plan? How is it executed? I want to see blueprints.
This Tip Tuesday suggestion is brought to you by Karen.
iPods and Gameboys…
Good call blackbird. And how about the not so thrilling “never go out to eat.” or the slightly more popular “order in”.
Kim C. says
Fear. When you have a whole vanload of kids, you have to be efficient, and fear goes ’round nicely.
OK, I’m kidding. But with older kids, they know the more peaceful the meal and the more compliments we get on behavior, the more likely we’ll go out again in the foreseeable future. So Fear Of Never Again Setting Foot In A Restaurant really works.
With little ones, we go through a lot of those saltine cracker packs. And we let them spend 10 minutes trying to open each pack themselves. With just 4 packs of crackers, that will buy you a cool 40 minutes.
We love spoons too! The waiters always look at us like we’re weird. Especially at Mexican restaurants where we also ask for ketchup for the kids instead of salsa to dip their chips in.
Nina (with the little accent) means “little girl” in Spanish- Nino means little boy. In case you didn’t know. Sarcasm is harder to catch over the net….
I also bring snacks to give out before the meal arrives so we’re not already mad at our mom when the fun really begins.
Our younger one – about six months at the time – fell in love with restaurant napkins. The game goes like this: put the napkin over your child’s head (or have the child do it themselves), say “Where’s [insert child’s name here]?” (in an exaggerated voice, of course), and then when the child takes the napkin off say excitedly “There he/she is!” This had our son rolling in his high chair.
For our two-year-old, we make sure to ask for a kid cup of water (the plastic cup with a lid and cool semi-bendy straw). He actually likes to bring them home, so we’re amassing quite the collection! And he also likes the sugar packets. We let him have one and try to open it. This usually keeps him busy for awhile.
For kids of all ages, snacks go a long way. Bread and chips don’t often cut it for our two, so we bring snacks from home, preferably special ones that they’re not used to having every day.
Oh, and you take requests?! I’ve been wondering about that. I’d love to see a Tip Day Tuesday about what other stay-at-homes do with their kids for the long hours of 8-5 (or whatever combination fits). I know you did a rainy day activities tip day awhile ago, but I’d like all ideas — inside, outside, rain or shine. I’ve gotten way to comfortable just sticking on a DVD. Can you help me, DYM?
Regina Clare Jane says
Omigosh- that picture of all the spoons lying underneath the highchair! Hilarious! What, do you take a camera with you everywhere you go?!
As I have no children I can’t offer any tips, but I always thought it would be a good idea to bring the kids food out first- and as fast as can be done- so the kids aren’t squirming. I know there’s a flaw in that logic somewhere, but like I said, I ain’t go no kids…;)
This is the second time I’ve commented on it, which leads me to believe I have a thing for Bald Baby-Heads. The rounder and balder, the better. I bet he’s got the cutest face, too!
I found your blog through the BOB awards page. I usually lurk for quite a bit before I comment but I just had to go ahead and comment. And now I’m commenting twice in one day, but I thought of a game that my husband plays with our six year old. He lays the sugar packets out on the table like a checkerboard and they play “sugar packet” chess. They’re basically just hopping packets around the table and somehow my daughter always wins!
OK, well I think that’s all I have. I love your blog so I’ll be back!
We give our daughter a beading kit — pipe cleaners and beads in ziploc bag that she can string into bracelets, necklaces, etc. Also, the greatest invention KNOWN TO MAN:
Barb Szyszkiewicz, sfo says
Some favorite tableside games with any child old enough to be verbal:
“Categories” (like name the color)
“I Spy with My Little Eye” (even teenagers will get into this if you pretend not to notice that they are into it!)
Bringing your own memo pad and pen or crayons is always great. School-age kids can be occupied for quite a while with “the dot game.” Tic-Tac-Toe is good too, if you can manage to keep them from killing each other in the process. No paper? No problem. Build your own TTT board with four straws and several sugar and “artificial sweetener” packs.
I order a drink. Right away. For me, not the kids. But then I don’t mind the kids so much!
And I’m with Jessica–DYM, tell us what to do with these kids ALL DAY LONG! Because I have eight more months before they’re both in school full-time, and that may be too long. I need tips! Quick!
I always gave my toothless babies unopened packages of saltines. No fuss, no muss. They never could bite through the plastic.
The Daring One says
Thanks for all the great tips so far. I did know about the Nina thing. I was going to put after that sentance: (Just kidding) but I figured it would be just as funny if you didn’t think I knew what I was talking about.
I love the “fear” idea. Hee hee hee.
And yes, I definitely like suggestions for tip days. I might need tips for something I don’t even know I need tips for. That would be the best kind of Tip Tuesday.
We give my daughter the lemon from the ice tea I (always) order. She loves it, but she makes that funny pucker-face that keeps the OTHER three kids entertained.
for older kids: the greatest invention known the man–the aquadoodle mini mats… tote those babies everywhere.
for younger kids: yeah, pretty much the spoon thing. tho i never thought to ask for a bunch of them. good thing i’ve got a new kid to try your tip out on.
No suggestions here, DYM.
But I do have one question – how did you type the “enye” in nina, do you have a spanish computer???
The Daring One says
I couldn’t figure out how to get the Spanish symbols on my keyboard so I copied and pasted the word from a spanish site.
Not very tech-savvy but it worked.
Okay, you take a napkin and squeeze it in the middle so it looks like a bow. You put it over your upper lip like a mustache and say gruffly, “But you must pay the rent!” Then put it on your hair and say femininely, “But I can’t pay the rent!” Repeat several times. Then put the napkin bo won your neck like a bow tie and say in a heroic manly voice, “I’ll pay the rent!”
My kids love this. My mom used to do this at restaurants until we were in jr. high probably…
DYM, my husband started a game with our grandson, with the paper from straws. If you push the straw paper off of the straw while it is standing up on end, it makes it very crinkly. Then you put the paper on the table put just a drop or two of water on the paper from the end of your straw, and — what do you know, you have a worm, that keeps growing. They are great for teasing each other with!!!! It has worked well for 3 years! (David Riley is 4.) Also, I wanted to let you know, I’ve added you to my list of blogs. I really enjoy your site!
pop & suckers & grandparents & not paying attention to her or what others think. Often grandparents aren’t around so we just do the other things. I have become the parent I used to judge b/c I think: I really don’t care anymore if you think my child shouldn’t be doing that. If you don’t like it, you can leave the restaurant. I didn’t see the ‘no children’ sign on the door. (this only works if the restaurant thinks she’s cute, which they usually do)
oh my gosh, stephanie, the napkin melodrama, that’s the coolest thing i’ve ever heard…. must do that next time….
baby sleep pattern says
Hey, this is where I got it from! 🙂 Great informative blog. I shall link back appropriately!
baby sleep pattern