Inside: Skip the babysitter! Here’s why you should go out to eat WITH kids instead of leaving them at home. (And why restaurants banning kids are out of line!)
This is a sign that now greets diners at a Tampa Bay bar and grill.
Why Restaurants Are Banning Kids
I recently stumbled across an article in Food & Wine Magazine entitled, “Why Restaurants Are Banning Kids” and it hit me all sorts of wrong.
The article discussed a growing trend of banning kids from restaurants — one of the establishments mentioned is even here in Houston.
I understand that no one wants to eat dinner with wild kids running around between the tables, but why is there a need to ban kids altogether?
6 Reasons We Go Out to Eat with Kids at Fancy Restaurants
We almost always take our kids out to eat at restaurants with us and they often receive compliments from staff or other diners. That’s not intended to be a brag, but to emphasize that kids are totally capable of eating out at restaurants successfully.
It’s all about setting expectations and enforcing standards. There are so many positive benefits to going out to eat with kids – those benefits will last for the rest of their lives!
Here’s why we always take our kids with us when we go out to eat:
1. They are part of the family too.
Yes, my husband and I do occasionally go out on grown-ups-only date nights. However, for family dinners we bring the whole family.
We are fortunate that our extended family also values time spent with the little ones, and always makes an effort to include them. This often means that we eat dinner a little early to accommodate bedtimes, but it is worth it to build a relationship with the girls’ grandparents, aunts, and uncles.
With everyone’s different work schedules, dinners out are one of the main ways that the girls get to see their extended family. We definitely don’t want them to miss out on that!
2. It’s tradition.
In my family we have a tradition that on your birthday you get to pick any restaurant for your birthday dinner. The whole family goes out for a big meal to celebrate — it’s all about the birthday experience versus little gifts and trinkets.
Even through ups and downs (every family has them, am I right?) we still make it a priority to get together on birthdays. It is not always easy, but we make it happen!
This is a tradition that I treasure and one that I hope to pass down to my girls too.
3. Experience is the best teacher.
How will kids learn to behave at nice restaurants if they never get to go to them?
On a day to day basis, my husband cooks (lucky me!!) and we eat at home. It’s definitely a lot more budget-friendly and easier than loading up the car and heading to a restaurant with three kids.
However, I think it is important for kids to experience dining at a restaurant so we bring them along whenever possible.
4. Babysitters are expensive!
On the practical side, hiring a babysitter often costs as much as the actual meal out does! According to a 2017 survey, the going rate for a babysitter is about $16 per hour. That adds up quickly!
We are blessed to live within 30 miles of all of the girls’ grandparents, and they enjoy babysitting on occasion.
However, when it is a family meal that the grandparents will be attending, that means that either the girls go with us, or we have to hire someone to watch them.
The girls love to go to dinner with their family and they are well-behaved, so why pay someone to babysit them when they can go with us and have that memorable experience?
5. These are important life skills.
It really doesn’t matter what type of restaurant you visit. Whether it’s fast food or fine dining, the most important thing is that kids experience dining outside of the house.
Those interactions and skills are important down the road — whether it’s dining with a friend’s family when they’re a teenager, or attending a work function as an adult.
The younger you can start teaching positive habits and life skills, the better!
But what if they misbehave?
Let’s face it — kids are kids, not robots. Some days are better than others when it comes to behavior.
Temper tantrums happen to all of us!
Just because your kids aren’t perfect all the time doesn’t mean that they are not capable of dining out successfully at a nice restaurant.
We always plan ahead, bringing snacks and sometimes activities like books or coloring supplies to have on hand in a pinch. We also include the kids in the conversation, so they aren’t sitting there by themselves getting bored.
However, if it’s one of “those days,” and one of our girls starts to cause a disturbance, we do remove them from the situation. It’s a courtesy to the establishment and other diners. Plus, this teaches kids that they only get to enjoy the grown-up experience if they use grown-up manners.
Usually time out in the car with mom or dad is enough to settle them down so we can all return to our meals.
Taking kids out to a restaurant for dinner is a bit more work, but it is worth it in the long run. They learn a lot of important skills, build memories with their family, and YOU actually gain something from it too!
Read this next: Success Plan for Dining Out With Kids
Your turn: Do you take our kids out to eat with you? Why or why not? Feel free to share your tips and experiences in the comments below!