Now here’s a question: are you so confident that your little darlings will sit still in strange restaurants with stranger foods when you are looking for a romantic and relaxing dinner out, on your much needed family holiday?
Here are some ideas to make dining out a pleasure for everybody:
- Why not before you leave, have a couple of weeks training: play “restaurant” for example. Toddlers can pretend to take orders and carry things to the table one time and other times pretend they are being served in the posh restaurant – napkins (kitchen paper?) and all. Just so’s they know what’s expected of them later on and rules are set down in advance.
- Do you have the kit? Not all restaurants abroad have highchairs on hand – perhaps something like Totseat would be handy to pop under the pushchair or in your handbag to keep little wrigglers at bay.
- If you are planning to eat out later than usual, make sure your pushchair reclines right back – so littlies who just can’t stay awake can catch some zeds. Choose a corner table with nobody passing by all the time so you are not too disturbed. If possible walk to and from the restaurant from your villa. That way, you never know they might drop off before you get there or on the way home. Dress them in something light, so they can just be lifted into the cot when you get back (and if they are not their pyjamas, you are on holiday, just this once in t-shirt and nappy won’t hurt!)
- Have a “going to a restaurant bag”: fill with little tiny pots of play-doh, little animals, bubbles, cars, little toys saved from the Christmas crackers (we have tiny watercolour paints would you believe) – dot to dot books and colouring stuff. Those travel Aquadraw kits are really good and there is always water on the dining table for refills!
- Choose the right restaurant – ask your gite owner or caretaker what’s worked for previous visitors, check the house guide for recommendations.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff, if your little one really just wants to eat chips and ice cream – well, it’s not everyday and everybody needs to relax sometime!
- Expectations: keep yours in check too. Don’t think you are going to be chatting leisurely over a coffee and Cognac with a two year old in tow. Eat earlier and perhaps keep it to two courses and a bottle of rose.
- And if all else fails why not book a family villa or child-friendly gite with qualified English babysitters.